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July 25, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)

The Internet is a marvelous new age. With a single keystroke I can access more unfiltered information than was thought possible just a few years ago. What an advantage the Internet provides. Yet, with this great benefit comes a glaring fault—misinformation that instantly masquerades as truth.

Hardly a day passes that I don’t get e-mails from acquaintances and friends attacking President Obama with the sometimes humorous, occasionally interesting, but more often inane and unflattering accusations flagrantly at odds with truth or fact.

I do not take offense at e-mails that rails against President Obama’s policies or when he is called a Socialist, or even a Communist. What I find surprising and equally alarming is how many people whom are want to pass on such e-mails believe the content even though contrary information is readily available.

The idea that President Obama is not a natural born citizen is ridiculous on face; he has offered his birth certificate, yet his detractors continue to raise the ante. Yes, they say, it is a Hawaiian birth certificate but we need to hear from the Doctor that delivered him. That accusation is rubbish and those that continue to advance such arguments are either knowingly and deliberately engaged in disseminating lies that they hope will injure the President or by those who by reason of madness or insanity continue to cling to their delusions.

The former was the cruel case this week when an extreme right-wing political provocateur released “relevant portions” (his words) of a video taped speech by Shirley Sherrod. The accusation was that a black employee of the Agriculture Department deliberately withheld assistance from a poor, white farmer from Georgia simply because he was white—reverse racism.

That story evoked howls of protests from those who incite others into believing that reverse racism is somehow the moral equivalent of a Klu Klux Klan lynching, but I too was taken in by what turned out to be a deliberate lie.

Whenever I prepare a topic from any source for publication, the Internet in particular, I find at least two other independent sources for verification. When her firing by the Secretary of Agriculture followed the NAACP denouncement of Shirley Sherrod it became easy to believe the account was true.

From all accounts Andrew Breitbart deceitfully released the tape but the NAACP and the Obama Administration should have practiced due diligence. After all, the Georgia Chapter of the NAACP made the tape at the center of the controversy and the Administration was too quick to dance to music supplied by FOX News and Glenn Beck.

Despite apologies from the NAACP and the Obama Administration (Andrew Breitbart seems to take glee in the hurt he caused) a good woman needlessly endured torment.

Some people say this was a teachable moment, but I direct my greatest scorn to those who continue to pass on obviously false e-mails composed by anonymous authors.



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A KKK rally in Nahunta, Ga Feb 20,2010 !shot news photo by stormy adkins.