We are required to always accept new information because we never know when we’ll find out what we thought we always knew was true, never was. I am still amazed to learn that in Southern pockets of the United States that many people viciously, and wrongly, believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim when he is not and never was.
An entire generation of Southern children are being raised to believe their president is a liar even though the facts that construct the context of his alleged Muslim life have been repeatedly proven false.
How do we fight these mistaken memes that are given life beyond reality and into a harmful fantasy?
Confronting the liars only makes the accused part of the cover up.
Ignoring the lies only propagates a misbegotten myth.
When I was a youngster growing up in the Midwest in a 100% Caucasian elementary school, one playground rumor that took hard root was the notion that “All Black people smelled like watermelon.”
I have no idea how that meme started, but it became a general “fact” on the playground and the sandlots that Blacks “smelled good” like the watermelon Jolly Rancher candy we would consume by the mouthful.
It was only much later, decades later, really — that I realized the Racism embedded in that “they smell like watermelon” playground “fact” — because it directly played into the pickaninny meme of a shufflin’, smilin’, chicken-eatin’ and watermelon-smellin’ “darkie” defined by a bowl of nigger toes.
I was shocked to learn the power of the watermelon meme is still in political play today:
Mayor Dean Grose was forced to apologize after it was reported he sent an e-mail out to colleagues and business people–including a black woman who serves on a committee with the mayor–that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons.
I’m not sure how Grose expected people to respond, but African Americans don’t find watermelon jokes funny. All you have to do is research racial stereotypes to understand why. The smiling “darkey” eating watermelon was a popular image during America’s racist past, and was the one of the stereotypes used by Obama-haters during the presidential campaign.
Grose claims he was “unaware of the stereotype that black people like watermelon,” and didn’t mean to “offend” African Americans.
If the “Blacks smell like watermelon” meme is still growing strong across the arc of the last 100 years in America, I wonder if we’ll ever be rid of the purposefully mistaken “Obama is a Muslim” meme that seeks to mark him as foreign and distant and as un-American as bean pie.
It makes me astonishingly sad that this is the case, and yet I knew it would happen in this country.
There’s also the whole, ongoing, mob scene in the South that Obama was not “born in the USA” and that his official Hawaiian birth certificate is just fake and that his entire presidency is “illegitimate.” Hoping doesn’t make it so and you can’t deny facts by calling the evidence supporting them “fake.”
I’m eager for any tips on what to do in these situations.
It’s great to see you logging in as a verified WordPress.com user! So many people complain the login doesn’t work. They use their username instead of their blog name — and that’s why they can’t post comments.
Fixing Obama lies is a difficult situation. It’s easy for me here in NJ to scold Georgia and South Carolina for their lies about Obama because I’m removed and I can provide facts that are verifiable — but I have semi-liberal friends who live in the South and who didn’t vote for Obama — and they know the truth.
Yes, when they try to “fix” the lies that are propagating, they are threatened and scolded and ostracized as being “foolish.” Perhaps their tone is wrong? There is a not-so-subtle threat to their life and limb for correcting an incorrect meme and so you have to look for open minds and cracks in the surface where the truth can sink in… and in my experience that doesn’t happen in tucker cafes or rocker bars but rather in schools with children and universities with eager young minds.
It doesn’t help that a major network like Fox News helps sift the lies with non-facts that are cudgelized as truth-tellers — but that’s really the job of each of us against the mainstream marketplace: Take in the facts, provide analysis based on our training, and come to the right decision.
Facts, like the truth, when crushed to the ground, will rise again!
We just have to keep finding ways to counter the lies with the facts. The great thing about the truth is that it needn’t be spoken very loudly and it never needs strong-arming because its inherent rightness rings the the proper strings in the receiver — even if the mind initially denies the song.
Thanks for the insights! That last part is poetic. Another take away from what you wrote is relationship.
That’s a good point, Llyod. If we preach to strangers we won’t be heard even if we’re speaking the facts. Having a human connection — doesn’t necessarily mean a friendship — can make all the difference in the world when it comes to listening to each other and learning from our differences and misunderstandings.