One of the most frustrating things in this election campaign has been the constant stream of totally false smears against Obama. Even more frustrating is when those smears end up being believed by members of your own own family.
My mother has forwarded several e-mails to me about Obama, including the one claiming that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance (which is laughable, seeing as he has led the pledge in the Senate several times), and others claiming he is Muslim and a "Manchurian candidate." On each occasion, I have presented the facts and refuted the lies.
Last night, she forwarded this e-mail to me:
Chris,Please check this out and let me know if he really did vote against the live abortion birth bill.MomTo: "Ancil Roberson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 10:32 AM
I urge you to view this and pass it on. Pray for America. God Bless
The video accuses Obama of supporting "infanticide" because of votes he cast as an Illinois state senator. The woman in the video is Jill Stanek, a nurse in the Chicago area who was a main proponent of the federal "born alive" measure and writes an anti-abortion blog. She is also the person who claimed that babies born alive in botched abortions were being thrown into a "soiled utility closet" and left to die at the hospital where she worked.
To me, this is the worst smear that has been levied against Obama, or any presidential candidate in any election in the history of the country. Karl Rove's disgusting "John McCain fathered an illegitimate black baby" smear can't even compare to this. Not even close.
I love my mom. She is a decent, kind human being and a good mother who has overcome more than her share of hardships. I was happy to see that instead of believing this nonsense right away, she wrote to me in the hope that I might be able to find out the truth behind the smear.
But I suspect that many of us are in the position of having to refute the lies that members of our families have been told. It's a difficult thing to do when there are so many lies out there, and the same lies are repeated by so many different sources. Most of the time, their belief that the lies are true isn't really even due to any fault of their own, because they are backed up by plenty of falsified "evidence," like the picture of Barack Obama in a turban, or standing on a stage without his hand over his heart. What can we do to defeat these despicable lies by unprincipled, and many times racist rumor mongers without alienating the people we love, and know to be good people, but who have been fed a steady diet of internet lies and mainstream "news" falsehoods?
Below is my letter to my mother:
It's just another baseless smear by the same people that still insist that he's Muslim; that he was born in another country; that his birth certificate is a forgery; that he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance; that he hates the American flag; that he hates Americans and America itself, and he even hates Americans who hate America because Americans hate the American flag -- in America.
Here's what really happened:
When Obama was an Illinois state senator, a bill was introduced by Republicans that included language protecting infants who were "born alive." Of course Obama believes, just like you and I, that those infants should be protected. But the bill went further than that, and included other restrictions that would seriously undermine Roe v. Wade.
There were many Illinois state legislators who opposed the bill because "the legislation amounted to an illegal end run around Roe v. Wade." Even the Illinois State Medical society opposed the bill, as reported by the New York Times:
The Illinois State Medical Society, which also fought the legislation and was cited by Mr. Obama on Saturday in his defense of his position, said in a statement that it opposed the package of bills, first introduced in 2001, “because they interfered negatively with the physician-patient relationship, attempted to dictate the practice of medicine for neonatal care and greatly expanded civil liability for physicians.”