Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Politics of Shame

I wanted to follow up on my first blog from way back in May. Since those who fear Barack Obama have chosen to try and lend credibility to a faux report about his religion and schooling, I thought I would post some facts.

The first part comes courtesy of John Kerry's mailing list and the second part from my good union brother from Seattle, Paul Cox.

Here's a link to Paul's blog . He also writes here:

Dear Anthony,

I support Barack Obama because he doesn't seek to perfect the politics of Swiftboating -- he seeks to end it.

This is personal for me, and for a whole lot of Americans who lived through the 2004 election.

As a veteran, it disgusts me that the Swift Boats we loved while we were in uniform on the Mekong Delta have been rendered, in Karl Rove's twisted politics, an ugly verb meaning to lie about someone's character just to win an election. But as someone who cares about winning this election and changing the country I love, I know it's not enough to complain about a past we can't change when our challenge is to win the future -- which is why we must stop the Swiftboating, stop the push-polling, stop the front groups, and stop the email chain smears.

The truth matters, but how you fight the lies matters even more. We must be determined never again to lose any election to a lie.

This year, the attacks are already starting. Some of you may have heard about the disgusting lies about Barack Obama that are being circulated by email. These attacks smear Barack's Christian faith and deep patriotism, and they distort his record of more than two decades of public service. They are nothing short of "Swiftboat" style anonymous attacks.

These are the same tactics the right has used again and again, and as we've learned, these attacks, no matter how bogus, can spread and take root if they go unchecked.

But not this time -- we're fighting back.

And when I say "we," I mean that literally. I know Barack is committed to fighting every smear every time. He'll fight hard and stand up for the truth. But he can't do it alone.

We need you to email the truth to your address books. Print it out and post it at work. Talk to your neighbors. Call your local radio station. Write a letter to the editor. If lies can be spread virally, let's prove to the cynics that the truth can be every bit as persuasive as it is powerful.
The Obama campaign has created a place where you can find the truth you'll need to push back on these smears and a way to spread the truth to all of your address book.

Take action here:

So when your inbox fills up with trash and the emails of smear and fear, find the facts, and help defeat the lies.

Barack Obama is committed to bringing our country together to meet the challenges we face, but he knows that power gives up nothing without a struggle -- and to win the chance to change America, we must first defeat the hateful tactics that have been used to tear us apart for too long.

With your help, we can turn the page on an era of small, divisive politics -- but only if next time you hear these attacks on Barack, you take action immediately:

The fight is just heating up -- we won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions.

Thank you,

John Kerry

From Paul Cox:

The email in question contains lies and distortions. First and foremost, it claims that it checked with "", but you can read's page about the claims of this email for yourself- and you should. The main thrust of this email seems to be that Obama is a Muslim, and Snopes says the email is NOT true:

More important is that you think about religion. Is religion something you are born to, or is it something that adult Americans get to choose for themselves? A long time ago, before getting into politics, Obama chose to be a Christian. His mom was atheist and his father (and stepfather) was Muslim- does that make him an atheist Muslim? Of course not.

In fact, Barack Obama's mom (despite being agnostic/atheist) insisted that he grow up with an understanding and appreciation for ALL religions.

She sent him to schools that had religious teaching (both Muslim and Catholic), and took him to churches and houses of worship of several faiths- Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Shinto, native Hawaiian religion. She felt that he could grow up and decide for himself, which is everyone's right as an American. In that sense, Obama is probably more "American" than many of us are!

Also, pay attention to the way the email distorts things or uses hype and buzzwords. It claims that Obama's father was a "radical", but his father actually had more or less quit practicing as a Muslim and was never a "radical".

When Obama lived in Indonesia, he went to a school that had a lot of Muslim students. This is not a surprise- Indonesia's population is majority Muslim. But he also went to Catholic schools while in Indonesia, which is something the email does not tell us. This is probably because the email wants to make him look bad, don't you think?

CNN visited the school that Obama attended for a few years in Indonesia. Their reporting- actually going out and examining the facts to get the real news- discovered a school that does not focus on religion, with children in western-style clothing. The kids belong to many different religions and the school is a public school, not a violence-preaching "Madrassa".

Finally, the claim that he used a Koran to be sworn into office is an outright lie. There is a black politician who did so, but it wasn't Obama- it was a guy named Keith Ellison, a member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota.

Here is a video of Obama directly addressing some of these claims:

You can choose to vote for whoever you want. I suspect that many of the people who forward the lying email are NOT going to vote for Obama based on politics, not religion. That's fine.
But in America, it is wrong for us to blatantly lie about someone and it's even more wrong to try and win elections based on lies like that. If you don't want to vote for Obama because you don't like his proposals for political problems, that's fine- it's your choice.

All I'm asking is that you not be a part of the mud-slinging, lying, distorting type of politics that hurt our nation. When you see this email, challenge it. Don't forward it along.

And do stop to think for a minute- even if a politician WERE a Muslim, so what? There are millions of Muslims who are good, hardworking Americans. They pay their taxes, send their kids to public schools, love the United States and their freedom to choose religion just like the rest of us, whether we are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or agnostic. The vast majority of Muslims are not the problem; it's only the nutjob terrorists who are ruining things for everyone else.

Thank you for your time."

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