Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell

The rabid right wing likes to refresh its Big Fat Lies about Barack Obama on a weekly basis or so.

About two weeks ago, the Big Fat Lie of the moment was Obama is a Terrorist.

Last week, the Big Fat Lie was Obama is a Socialist.

And this week, bless their shriveled little hearts, the Big Fat Lie is Obama is not really an American.

And underlying all of these Big Fat Lies are the basic, foundational Big Fat Lies: Obama is Bad for Israel; Obama is being supported by Arabs; or its variation -- Obama is a Muslim; and, most potently Obama agrees 100 percent with everything Reverend Jeremiah Wright said in his most radical sermons in fact, Obama might just as well be Reverend Jeremiah Wright, that scary and dangerous black guy who hates Jews and Americans.

Based on these terrifying claims, I guess that if I was really gullible or stupid or illiterate or deaf and blind and a hermit and lived under a rock and didn't have access to any news venues or pundits or other people, I'd be freaked out about the prospect of such a person serving as our president, too.

These Big Fat Lies are spread many ways, but primarily through viral marketing, such as the forwarding of chain emails, which in turn link to hate-blogs and sites.

Fox News, of course, does its share, giving airtime to the very people who have made up these Big Fat Lies in the first place.

Depressingly, most of the senders of the emails that reach me are people whom I actually know.

And until I recently let some of them know what I thought of their hate and fear-mongering missives by sending my response as a Reply to All, they obviously thought they were doing me a Great Big Favor by including me on their send-lists.

With my views made known, I magically disappeared from a couple of such lists, though last week, one relative thoughtfully forwarded me a gem from the Howard Stern show that PROVED that black people are only voting for Barack Obama because he is black and then challenged me to listen to it as if by listening to Howard Stern's brilliant, irrefutable research, I would immediately side with him.

(Just to contextualize, this same person also refers to Barack Obama as belonging to the Axis of Evil.)

The day that educated people think that Howard Stern is a pundit whose POV is worth quoting is a sad day indeed.

The lying liars just won't quit. With the end of Simchat Torah, my Inbox brought me the latest Big Fat Lie: that Barack Obama is not really an American citizen and there is a lawsuit and omigod, here are the names of news anchors you have to write to and yes, his victory can be railroaded so pass this on to everyone you know!!!

This latest Big Fat Lie is so completely and utterly desperate that I can hardly get upset at it...simply marvel that forwarding it after Yom Tov ended was a priority for the person who sent it to me, who happens to be an observant Jew.

Wanna see the "proof?" for the case that Obama is not an American? Go to the lunatic rantings found on the website of Philip J. Berg at That site is a portal to conspiracy theory America, a dark and murky place where fears proliferate like mushrooms. Want further "proof?" Check out Now there's a respectable website, a cyber-address that all red-blooded Americans should feel proud to call their own!

Just two days ago, on the eve of the holiday, I had skyped Big Babe, who is living in Berlin, to share my despair about the culture of lies bred by the McCain-Palin campaign. I was especially despondent that this virus has spread to some quarters of the Jewish community, I told my son.

Because he is living in a land where Obama is a rock star, Big Babe is protected from the beliefs and behaviors I was reporting. And in truth, living on Manhattan's Upper West Side, I, too, am relatively cocooned from the worst of it. Still, not a day passes without a Big Fat Lie about Barack Obama making its way onto my radar screen.

And though I am desperately trying to hold onto my belief that this anti-Obama sickness is borne of fear, not racism, I am beginning to fear that mistrust of the Black Man is at the root of these ever-morphing Big Fat Lies about Barack Obama. The shape-shifting quality of the smear campaign indicates to me a baseless hatred rather than a conviction borne of ideals or facts.

Here's a question: is it racist for me to expect more from my fellow Jews? Because when yahoos from the allegedly more pro-American parts of America say ignorant and ugly things about Obama, I don't care but when my own landsmen and landswomen capitulate to propaganda (were we not also, as a people, victimized by Great Lies?), I am left with the feeling of walking through a nightmarish landscape where souls and brains are being snatched by some unseen evil entity.

In this nightmarish world, formerly analytical, fair-minded people who were raised on the principles of compassion and social justice and tzedakah and tikkun olam have become so mind-poisoned that when a Big Fat Lie reaches their Inbox, instead of pausing to wonder whether it is true or even plausible, they hit Forward, choose 20 friends and press Send.

In this creepy realm, the descendents of the People Who Dwell Apart have become one with the mindless followers of a political Baal. Lie by Big Fat Lie, they are looking more and more to me like the hypnotized congregants of John Hagee than the freethinking farbrent Jews who helped to make America a great and diverse nation.

In case you forgot, John Hagee was John McCain's problem pastor, a fundamentalist Evangelical who has made outrageous claims about Jews in the recent past (such as that the Holocaust was God’s plan for us) yet who is embraced by the right-wing Jewish community as a savior based on his End of Days-fueled support for Israel.

In an effort to keep abreast of what fundamentalist Christian America is thinking during these pre-election days, I turned on cable TV to Hagee's church service this past Monday morning and saw the good pastor subverting Biblical verse to make his political case: that the McCain-Palin ticket has earned the God Housekeeping Seal of Approval while the Obama-Biden ticket is an instrument of the devil.

Not by mentioning them by name, of course. Just through heavy-handed rabble-rousing inference, the kind capable of serving as a catalyst to a lynching.

Hear O Israel: our safety, security and liberty as Jews depends on a Democratic America.

Landsmen and landswomen! Do not be willing accomplices to the destruction of an America where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights for all citizens, where freedom of religion is guaranteed and where truth-telling is a basic value we can agree on.

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