Since my friends all know that I'm politically conservative, I often receive copies of the various e-mail chain letters that bash the candidates on the left. The two most recent letters that I've seen circulate accuse Senator Clinton of being a closet communist, offering a litany of quotes that are blatantly Marxist. The second letter shows a photo of the leading Democrats allegedly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Everyone has their hand over their heart except Senator Obama, and the letter goes on to claim that he refuses to recite the Pledge.
First of all, let's clear the air regarding these two e-mail chain letters. First we have Senator Clinton spouting Marxist propaganda. Every single quote in that e-mail chain is accurate. She did in fact say all of them at one time or another. Unfortunately, every single one of them was lifted out of context. When you read the entire context in which she made each statement, the meaning is completely changed and very few people - even conservatives - would have any issue with what she was saying. Here is the truth about the Hillary Clinton e-mail.
Now onto the Senator Obama e-mail chain. To begin with, the candidates were not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. They were standing for the National Anthem. There has never surfaced any evidence to suggest or affirm that the Senator has ever refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. There is also no evidence at all to suggest that he was at all disrespectful towards the National Anthem in that scenario.
Now, he has taken a good deal of heat for his decision to stop wearing a lapel pin. Personally, I don't agree with his decision there - I've been wearing a lapel pin since 9/11 to show my support for the troops that are currently in combat - but I understand his logic. You see, the lapel pin really has become just another political prop and has lost its meaning. So while I wish he would wear the pin for the reasons I do, I can respect his reasons for not wearing it, and it has nothing to do with his patriotism. Here is the truth about Senator Obama and both the Anthem and the lapel pin.
This is the danger of the Internet. People have a tendency to view anything they receive via e-mail as factual without ever attempting to confirm the veracity of the statements rendered. Now that we've entered the 2008 campaign season, there's no doubt that we're going to be inundated with these false but politically damaging chain letters. They are virtually untraceable but they can do an extreme amount of damage to the candidate. While I don't believe I've heard Senator Clinton make comment about the Marxist letter, Senator Obama is definitely taking the gloves off in responding to his patriotism attacks. That he is responding to this degree is testament to the amount of damage these false accusations can do.
So here's what I wish everyone would do. Don't forward any chain letters until you've verified the accuracy of the letter. Snopes is an excellent reference source for these types of urban legends, and it doesn't take too much effort to verify the claims before spreading the gossip.
Whether or not the candidates deserve fair treatment is pretty much irrelevant. The American voter certainly does deserve fair treatment, and spreading this type of muck does all of us a disservice. It's libel at best, and at its worst it undermines our political process. We need to select candidates based on the issues that affect us the most and based on how each candidate responds to those issues. We don't need slanderous e-mails in the mix spreading misinformation and outright lies about the candidates on either side of the aisle.