George Graham

Toxic Trash Goes Viral as U.S. Election Nears

 

My cousin and his wife who live in Miami – one of the sweetest couples I know – forwarded an email to me this morning that left me deeply depressed. It is a report of a speech by Dr. Charles Krauthammer (photo above, left), who appears regularly on Fox News. The message is in bold, blue, oversize type with some passages in red – the typical low-intellect technique that far-right goons use to scare unaware readers.

Obviously, someone is trying to frighten voters into defeating President Obama. Among the incredible falsehoods attributed to Krauthammer is this gem:

Obama has a ruthless quest for power. He did not come to Washington to make something out of himself but rather to change everything, including dismantling capitalism. He can’t be straightforward on his ambitions, as the public would not go along. He has a heavy hand and wants to level the playing field with income redistribution and punishment to the achievers of society.

Is that the Barack Obama you know? I see him as the opposite – so willing to listen to others and so eager to seek compromise, so self-effacing, so even-handed that I sometimes become impatient with his humility.

According to the email:

His (the president’s) three main goals are to control ENERGY, PUBLIC EDUCATION and NATIONAL HEALTHCARE by the Federal government. He doesn’t care about the auto or financial services industries but got them as an early bonus. The cap and trade will add costs to everything and stifle growth. Paying for FREE college education is his goal. Most scary is his healthcare program because if you make it FREE and add 46,000,000 people to a Medicare-type single-payer system, the costs will go through the roof. The only way to control costs is with massive RATIONING of services, like in Canada .. God forbid!

How’s that for a load of rubbish?

The email presents Krauthammer as “a brilliant intellectual, seasoned & articulate.” If he is so “brilliant,” where does he get that nonsense about “massive rationing of services” in Canada?  He was raised in Montreal and attended McGill University; he must know better!

I lived in Canada for two decades. I still have many close relatives there. And I can tell you with absolute certainty that what the email says about America’s northern neighbor is just not true.

It is a Big Lie, invented by right-wing propagandists to turn Americans against universal health care.

And I am sure you know the president’s health care plan does not include “adding 46,000,000 people to a Medicare-type single-payer system.” In fact, it’s like the plan Mitt Romney – the Republican presidential candidate – introduced in Massachusetts, and I don’t hear a lot of complaints from that state.

Who would circulate such fiction on the web?

I did not recognize the name of the person who sent the email but I know some of the people it was addressed to. They are originally from Jamaica and live in America.

I am confident that the sentiments expressed in the email are not shared by my cousin and his wife. They are not a politically active couple. But the lies attributed to Krauthammer might scare them enough to influence their vote.

To them, I say, don’t let these manipulative jerks frighten you. They are desperate and they will say anything to keep their pals in power. Trust me and re-elect the president. He cares about you and me. They care about the rich and powerful.

To the person responsible for circulating this piece of toxic trash, all I have to say is “Shame!”

In this age of finely honed propaganda, when the impact of certain words and phrases is determined through focus groups and deployed according to carefully researched “talking points,” we have to be on guard against the wordsmiths who concoct manipulative messages for circulation on the web.

We would be much wiser to rely on our own perception. So look at the two faces above, and tell me which one you would trust.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com