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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Is 20 percent of America really this ignorant?

In every administration, opponents spread misinformation to try and damage the president’s credibility. Usually alluding to some inaction or poor decision of the past, these attacks have always had some degree of success and give the fiercest partisans further ammunition in the war of information that is American politics.   

However, under President Barack Obama, fringe elements, which have taken personal attacks to a new level, appear to be making an impact.  While most on the right criticize the president in terms of his policies, a campaign has emerged on the blogosphere claiming that Barack Obama is Muslim. One would hope that such silliness would be ignored or passed on as radical B.S., but according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of Americans believe it to be true. Yes, let me say that again, one in five Americans question the president’s religious beliefs.

What’s worse is that these people act like being Muslim is a bad thing, as if the president uses the Oval Office to secretly pray for the destruction of America. Even if he were Muslim, which for the record, he’s not, what difference would it make? Islam is a religion that advocates peace, with millions of followers in the United States and billions worldwide, but opponents seem to associate the entirety of Islam with the actions of Middle Eastern governments and extremist groups.

This ignorant, vicious campaign poses an interesting question: What role does the blogosphere play in the destruction of civility in American politics? With a blog, anyone can claim to be a journalist and pass off anything as news under the cloud of anonymity. Unfortunately, it appears at least 20 percent of our fellow countrymen and women have lost the ability to think for themselves and take mindless Internet campaigns at their word.

The mainstream media has many areas where it’s lacking, especially in its volume of coverage, and blogs can bring attention to underreported issues or add an interesting perspective that the average reader wouldn’t get elsewhere. However, relying solely on blogs is like reading nothing but a newspaper’s editorial page. With the Internet, people can look for news that fits their beliefs instead of shaping their beliefs around the news.

If a person is angry with Obama and wants to believe he’s Muslim, there’s certainly enough content on the Internet to reinforce that belief. It seems nowadays not many people have very much trust in a lot of things, whether it be the government or the so-called “”liberal media,”” but it’s interesting that these same people put their trust into un-refereed web posts that could easily be written by an unemployed 45-year-old living in his parents’ basement. It seems that whenever someone doesn’t like or agree with a news story, they attack it as being biased and search for something different that fits their narrow worldview.

Is it really too much to ask that we focus on the important issues facing our country today? It shouldn’t matter what religion the president is, but since it seems to, is it too hard to accept that he’s Christian, as he himself has verified, and move on?

Leaders like Rep. John Boehner, Michael Steele and Sen. Mitch McConnell need to speak out and condemn the irresponsible bloggers who have led so many people to believe a ridiculous rumor. Further baseless attacks and ignorance from the blogosphere will only contribute to the deterioration of American politics.

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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