[FoRK] "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Fri Aug 20 17:36:12 PDT 2010

  but not their own facts." -  Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Classic.  The number of people with "their own facts" these days is frightening, if you're into that kind of thing.


>   GOP knows Obama's not a Muslim, but what's a little misunderstanding?
> By *John P. Avlon*, Special to CNN
> August 20, 2010 12:07 p.m. EDT
> tzleft.avlon_john.jpg
>     * John Avlon says Pew poll found 18 percent of Americans believe Obama is Muslim
>     * The misconception ranges across political spectrum. Why is this happening, he asks?
>     * Political opponents are smart enough to know the truth, but like the controversy, he says
> /*Editor's note:* John P. Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for The Daily Beast. He is the author of 
> "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America." /
> *(CNN)* -- As the mosque debate dominates the summer spin cycle, a new Pew Research Poll 
> <http://pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Growing-Number-of-Americans-Say-Obama-is-a-Muslim.aspx> shows that an increasing 
> number of Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim -- now up to 18 percent from 11 percent in March 2009. At the same time, 
> only a third of Americans say Obama is a Christian, down from nearly 50 percent last year.
> And while the biggest jumps in believing Obama is Muslim come from self-described conservative Republicans -- from 18 percent to 
> 34 percent -- the number of Democrats who describe Obama as Christian fell from 55 percent to 46 percent. Independents -- while 
> being the group least likely to want professions of religious beliefs from politicians -- have also fallen in with the drift.
> I believe the American people are smart. So what can account for this slippage from common sense to conspiracy theory?
> Obama made the story of his increasing commitment to Christianity a central tenet of his campaign character narrative; whole 
> chapters were devoted to matters of faith in his book "The Audacity of Hope." But in the radioactive wake of the Rev. Jeremiah 
> Wright, Obama left his longstanding church and has not yet found a new congregation.
> Video: Obama's religious faith
> Video: What is Obama's religion?
>     * Barack Obama <http://topics.cnn.com/topics/Barack_Obama>
>     * Pew Research Center <http://topics.cnn.com/topics/Pew_Research_Center>
>     * U.S. Politics <http://topics.cnn.com/topics/U_S_Politics>
> The absence of Obama attending Sunday services regularly has been a repeated "just askin'..." talking point on right wing news and 
> radio -- and indeed, the Pew poll shows that most respondents got their "views" about Obama's religion from "the media."
> The meticulous attention that some liberals paid to George Bush's golf game is now directed at Obama hitting the links -- with the 
> added subtext that he's playing when he should be praying. In the eyes of his opponents, Obama is an elitist silently laughing at 
> those bitter Americans who cling to their guns and religion. The fact that an icon of the religious right like Ronald Reagan 
> rarely attended Sunday services is ignored.
> But these poll numbers are also an ugly proxy for the campaign to convince the American people that their president is somehow 
> "other" -- an "Alien in the White House," as a Wall Street Journal editorial page headline called him recently.
> The birther myths build off this sense of Obama as a sinister fraud, casting Obama as not just anti-American in his beliefs but 
> actually un-American and therefore not constitutionally eligible to be president.
> These conspiracy theories in turn build off chain e-mails that have been circulating since at least 2008, portraying Obama as a 
> Muslim Marxist Manchurian Candidate determined to undermine the Republic from within -- a fright wing fantasy that has 
> proliferated via the internet. Depressingly, a CNN poll 
> <http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/04/cnn-poll-quarter-doubt-president-was-born-in-u-s/?fbid=vCYuN4ge0_o#_rndmval1234=&more-116389/> 
> earlier this month found that 27 percent of all Americans believe that Obama was either definitely or probably not born in the USA 
> -- a belief shared by 41 percent of Republicans.
> "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "but not their own facts." But 
> the rise of partisan media means that Americans are self-segregating themselves into separate political realities where we can't 
> even agree on basic facts like the president's religion and birthplace.
> While no responsible Republican would ever explicitly encourage these beliefs, there are plenty who delight in these poll findings 
> because it presumably points to partisan gain. Truth is not as important as the pursuit of power in professional partisans' eyes, 
> and dividing to conquer is a time-honored trick.
> Each president since at least Nixon has faced a concerted effort to de-legitimize the duly elected president of the opposing party 
> from day one. But with Barack Obama, the fact that he is the first African-American president with a middle name Hussein has led 
> to a new level of ugliness and suspicion. Attacks that demonize the president are poisoning the civic well from which we all drink.
> /The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon./

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