Writing My Life

Now and Then


… maybe it’s wise to do some research before believing political emails …

I am not a registered Republican because I consider myself an independent. On my FaceBook profile, I post my politics as “conservatively liberal” – which I know bugs some friends and family members. Most of the time I am rather disgusted with the whole political realm on “both sides of the aisle.”

While there is much to complain about, I worry about the MISinformation that is spread far and wide via mass email messages. So often what I receive is downright frightening, and I have a hard time believing these scare tactics guised as wake-up calls. Because many believe the press to be the handiwork of liberals, I suppose ultra-conservatives feel they must spread their views through nasty talk show hosts and email messages.

The first thing I look for when I receive such email messages is the source of the information – who is authoring, publishing, and sending this? So often that important detail is missing, but I’ve also learned that when a source is cited, the information may have been manipulated and thus it is compromised. For example, excerpts from Lee Iaccoca’s book that is critical of some Republicans were “revised” so that Iaccoca’s words lam-blast Democrats. (It’s lengthy, so if you follow the link, read all the way down to the bottom to see how his thoughts were misrepresented.)

Next I look at content and what purpose it serves. If the information is overly biased, I am suspect. That’s when I go to sites like Snopes.com that investigates rumors, legends, scams, etc. While some may wonder if Snopes is credible, I researched their origins, practices, and investigations and learned enough to feel that they are what they claim to be: amateur folklorists who have built “one of the Internet’s most trusted authorities.”

Recently, my husband forwarded a message to me that claimed President Obama had removed the American flag from his press conferences, and that he had decorated the White House in a Mideastern decor. Before I checked this out, I wrote the following to G.E.

Maybe I am naive, but I just can’t bring myself to see a conspiracy behind every change. Maybe it’s a subtle way of reaching out to the millions of peace-loving Muslims throughout the world. Maybe this little act [of adding a Mideastern flavor to the furnishings] has sparked the pro-democracy rebellions throughout the middle east. Maybe the flag is just out of the range of the photo. Who knows?

Then I went to Snopes to see if I could find out more, and sure enough I did. While the email showed photos of several former presidents speaking before Old Glory along with a picture of President Obama on a flagless set, the Snopes’ research explained that many presidents have spoken to the nation and an American flag was not present. Not only did the article explain why that happens, it also featured photos of such occasions. Go HERE to learn more – if you want to.

Another message claimed that President Obama has created a policy declaring that military men cannot speak at faith-based meetings. First, Donna P. Parsons of Lancaster County School District’s Instructional Services supposedly authored the message. I work for a school district in the curriculum department, and I know I would be in big trouble if I sent out controversial information with my “work signature” attached to it.

Second, it was sent by a retired vice admiral, and so maybe Ms. Parsons just emailed the admiral who then forwarded it to the rest of the world. To check it out, I went to Snopes and entered “Sgt.1st Class Greg Stube,” the name of the Green Beret who was supposed to speak at a charitable event for Catch-a-Dream.

Not surprisingly, I learned that President Obama did not create the policy but rather the Department of Defense, and it has to do with speaking at charitable events not at faith-based public events or at churches. Again, if you want all the details, go HERE.

Don’t be mistaken, I do not support many of the decisions made by President Obama and the Democrats, but I do think we owe it to ourselves to validate information. Let us be an informed citizenry, not a duped one.

And now I will step down from my soap box. =)