I’m in the middle of reading the new book “Game Change”, by distinguished political writers Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. It’s a unique look deep into the last presidential election, loaded with great inside information from the candidates’ closest staff members and friends. I read very few books about politics, but I’m glad I bought this one.
For me, the 2008 election will always elicit the memory of a warm October afternoon in Minnesota, at a John McCain rally, when a grandmotherly woman who had the mike said to McCain about Obama “he’s an Arab”….and the Senator took the mike from the woman and said “no, he’s not. He’s a decent man”. In the background, you can hear people yelling “liar!” and “terrorist!”, referring to Barack Obama. The video is still up on YouTube.
For some people, Barack Obama is and always will be an Arab, not an American; he was not born in the U.S. and therefore is not the legitimate President; he’s a terrorist who hates capitalism or a socialist or an anarchist or an anti-Christ or the devil incarnate.
Founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin said time and again that a well-informed citizenry is the foundation of a democratic society, and the first protection under the Bill of Rights is free speech and a free press. But facts apparently aren’t what they used to be.
I read a paragraph the other day written by Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for commentary. It says “To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper’s online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all the information that does not validate what we wish to believe.”
This guy really knows how to write.
That senior citizen in Minnesota was not convinced by her candidate, John McCain, that Obama is not an “Arab”. Nobody will change her mind. To me, she’s typical of so many people who have a set of beliefs, and no facts, no logic, no appeal will change their mind. I still, to this day, get junk e-mails from acquaintances, with some new piece of “proof” that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States. For God’s sake, people – let go!
It doesn’t take a logician to figure out that objective reality doesn’t change because you refuse to accept it. But apparently the concept is beyond the thinking power of an awful lot of American citizens.
Print journalism sure picked a bad time in our country’s history to go belly-up. If ever there were a time when we needed MORE truth uncovered, MORE facts revealed, it’s now.