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Internet Lies Meet the Armed and Unhinged
Posted on Jan 10, 2011
By Barry Lando
Repeating these charges in the blog that was sent to me, the anonymous author called Soros “One Evil Son of Satan.”
And, he concluded, the words of Patrick Henry are apropos: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
After such rhetoric, why wouldn’t a gullible young patriot pick up his semiautomatic, write a Facebook farewell and head out to save his nation by blowing apart that Evil Son of Satan? Or better yet, one or more officials at the highest level of the federal government?
There are similar panicked calls for action in France, where political rhetoric is also roiling. The day after receiving the blog about Soros, I was forwarded another blog predicting an imminent “French revolution”—provoked by the inexorable flood of Muslims into the country.
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Source for that story? Supposedly a CNN report which I was never able to find. The facts given were wrong and the sites posting that blog were mainly right-wing backers of the virulently anti-immigrant Marie Le Penn.
Still, the statistics presented to prove a Muslim takeout appeared to be solid, accompanied by neat graphs demonstrating the soaring Muslim birthrate and the waning population of native French. Problem is these days it’s easy for anyone to make neat-looking graphs and PowerPoint presentations. And how do you argue with statistics? A birthrate is a birthrate is a birthrate.
In fact, the statistics were wildly inaccurate and out of context.
I know all this because I went to the trouble of checking the stories out. There are sites around like Snopes which make it their business to examine sensational charges. But most people, even if they’ve heard of such sites, don’t take the time to check. Life is too hectic. When they get a startling blog they read it, shake their head and, as often as not, send it on to friends. After all, if Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” reported those facts about Soros, must be something to it. Twitter and Facebook and YouTube transform that process into a whirlwind.
And even if discredited once, the lies never disappear. A story shot down in 1998, as were the charges against Soros, can be revived by anyone, retrieved from their resting place on the Internet and sent coursing again around the globe, igniting the demented passions, perhaps, of yet other killers.
How are liberals to deal with this dilemma? Hope that the spewers of hate can be convinced to tone down their rhetoric?
So then what?
Barry M. Lando, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia University, spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with “60 Minutes.” He has produced numerous articles, a documentary and a book, “Web of Deceit,” about Iraq. Lando is just finishing a novel, “The Shomer Dossier.”
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