Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

I love my Uncle Howard.  He is a friend, a mentor and a golf buddy.  I cannot imagine my life without him.   Like many of us, Uncle Howard and his buddies like to share stuff from the Internet with each other.  He used to share a lot of these exchanges, most of them right wing rants about politics, with me.  He was pretty active during the Clinton administration until I guess he got tired of me returning fire, which routinely required him to apologize to his friends on the distibution list.  Typically, it would go something like, "Well, my nephew is a good boy but he's a liberal."

Howard was pretty quiet during W's administration.  The e-mail traffic during those halcyon years of peace and prosperity were mostly about golf and family.  But now that the Oval Office is occupied by a Muslim from Kenya, it is Katie bar the door.

Yesterday, "H" as he is known in the family, disseminated to the family and some of his friends an e-mail that purported to be an eyewitness account of a talk given by the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer at the Center for the American Experiment in 2009 in which he criticized the policies of the Obama Administration.

Of course, as with many other offerings from the Internet, the supposedly accurate account was anything but as a quick trip to proved.  You can read the story on snopes here:

As I have said before, I view these as teachable moments.  I sent H the article, along with what I view as a rule of thumb regarding stuff like this.  Anytime you receive from the Internet a supposedly eyewitness account of an event and it doesn't include backup documentation, it is invariably false. Especially when the author purports to describe a talk that occurred over 2 years ago.  Indeed, even Krauthammer repudiated the mischaracterization of his remarks.

Didn't matter. 

"Whether K's comments are true or not they could not be more correct," was his response.

Now last time I looked this was a free country.  You can vote any way you see fit for whatever reason you  want.  And I am not naive.  As the old saying goes, "politics ain't bean-bag."  It is a dirty game with plenty of spinning and parsing from both sides of the isle.

But there is a difference between having an opinion and telling a lie.  You're entitled to your own opinion.  You're not entitled to your own facts.  The author of the e-mail about Dr. Krauthammer told a flat-out lie.  It got passed all around the country.  Undoubtedly many people accepted it on face value.  And I don't think these things are always just cooked up by nuts.  This particular offering was pretty damn clever the more thought of it.

Think about it.  The author knew that Krauthammer was invited to speak at an event that was not open to the general public.  So, there wouldn't be much documentation regarding his remarks.  That and it gives an aura of "inside information."  Secondly, the author prefaced the account by describing Krauthammer's history as a public intellectual.  He's a Harvard trained psychiatrist and award winning author.  So he's really smart.  That and the author probably suspected that some background was needed since many of the downstream recipients of this screed probably have never frigging heard of Charles Krauthammer. 

And the fact that that his remarks at the event were mischaracterized in the e-mail obviously means very little to some people.  And most recipients would accept it at face value in the first place.   

My love and admiration for Uncle Howard is not remotely impacted by his political views.  And vice-versa.  At least I hope.  Oh.  Friday's explanation to his friends on the e-mail list was a semi-exasperated " As you can see my nephew's way out there on the left."  What H does not know is that Friday I was busy with 2 different investigative agencies.  The rest of the day was spent doing debt collection. Some flaming communist I am.

Like I said, I love my Uncle Howard.  And it is for this reason that I am going to give him some George Orwell for Christmas.  Who would have been amazed at political discourse in the present age.

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