Bill Moyers: America Can't Deal With Reality -- We Must Be Exposed to the Truth, Even If It Hurts
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No wonder many people still believe Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, as his birth certificate shows; or that he is a Muslim, when in fact he is a Christian; or that he is a socialist when day by day he shows an eager solicitude for corporate capitalism. Partisans in particular - and the audiences for Murdoch's Fox News and talk radio - are particularly susceptible to such scurrilous disinformation. In a Harris survey last spring, 67 percent of Republicans said Obama is a socialist; 57 percent believed him to be a Muslim; 45 percent refused to believe he was born in America; and 24 percent said he "may be the antichrist."
The bigger the smear, the more it sticks. And there is no shortage of smear artists. Last year, Forbes Magazine, obviously bent on mischief, allowed the right-wing fantasist Dinesh D'Souza to tar Obama with a toxic brew so odious it triggered memories of racist babble - a perverted combination of half-baked psychology, biology and sociology - that marked the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan. Seizing upon the anti-colonial views of Obama's Kenyan father, who had deserted the family when the boy was two years old and whose absence from his life Obama meditated upon in his best-selling book "Dreams of My Father," D'Souza wrote that, "Incredibly, the US is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son."
In a sane political world, you might think at least a few Republican notables would have denounced such hogwash by their own kind for what it was. But no. Newt Gingrich, once their speaker of the House, whose own fantasies include succeeding Obama in the White House, set the tone by praising D'Souza's claptrap as the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama." D'Souza, said Gingrich, has made a "stunning insight" and had unlocked the mystery of Obama. I could find only one conservative who stood up against this trash. David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote on his blog: "The argument that Obama is an infiltrating alien, a deceiving foreigner - and not just any kind of alien, but specifically a Third World alien - has been absorbed to the very core of the Republican platform for November 2010." Once again, the right-wing media machine had popularized a false narrative and made of it a destructive political weapon.
Disinformation is not unique to the right, of course. Like other journalists, I have been the object of malevolent assaults from the "9/11 truthers" for not reporting their airtight case proving that the Bush administration conspired to bring about the attacks on the World Trade Center. How did they discover this conspiracy? As the independent journalist Robert Parry has written, "the truthers" threw out all the evidence of al-Qaeda's involvement, from contemporaneous calls from hijack victims on the planes to confessions from al-Qaeda leaders both in and out of captivity that they had indeed done it. Then, recycling some of the right's sophistry techniques, such as using long lists of supposed evidence to overcome the lack of any real evidence, the "truthers" cherry-picked a few supposed "anomalies" to build an "inside-job" story line. Fortunately, this Big Lie never took hold in the public mind. These truthers on the left, if that is where GPS can find them on the political map, are outgunned, outmatched and outshouted by the media apparatus on the right that pounds the public like drone missiles loaded with conspiracy theories and disinformation and accompanied by armadas of outright lies.