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Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

Cynical Dog Whistles

dog_barkingI was born in Limbaugh Land: Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I’m four years older than Rush, but the Limbaughs were face cards in that town long before he (or even I) came along, and remain a powerful local dynasty today. One of them crunched my sister’s car a few years back. There was no question of calling the police, not on a Limbaugh! Instead, they made a handshake deal and he quietly paid for repairs to my sister’s car. Though I lived in Cape Girardeau for just two years (and those as a small child), and have only visited since, it is very much my home town. Two of my sisters live there, along with my father’s second wife, augmented by the new sisters, brothers in law, nieces, and nephews who came with my father’s second marriage. I love them all, and check in with them frequently.

Had my father and mother stayed in Cape, had I grown up there, I wonder how conservative I’d be today. Southeast Missouri is the heartland of the heartland. Cape, though it’s a college town, didn’t have an NPR station until sometime during the 1990s. Well, who knows? My father, who lived the second half of his life in Cape, was a lifelong member of the ACLU. Maybe I’d still be the person I am today; maybe not.

In any case, most of my Cape Girardeau family are deeply conservative.  What follows is a Facebook exchange between me and one of my favorite nieces, who goaded me into it by posting a link to an inflammatory right-wing blog post, a collection of bald-faced lies about Obama and gun control. We swapped comments for an hour or so yesterday morning, right up until I had to leave for a physical therapy appointment. Boy, was I energized when I got on the stationary bicycle!

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My last response, as you can see, is charitable to a fault. My niece’s original post was a link to a highly suspect article. She didn’t comment on it or ask any questions. Not until I responded did she claim her intention was only to ask if anyone had heard about vets being denied gun ownership rights. I made a tactical decision to play along with the pretense and keep peace in the family. I really do like this particular niece, in spite of her politics, and I enjoy arguing with her. I think she enjoys practicing her conservative swordplay on me, too.

In a previous post, I discussed Facebook users who repost or share graphics taken from Facebook hate pages, then try to claim that they only shared the material because they thought it was funny and didn’t notice where it came from. Nonsense. When you share something from, say, the Impeach the Jungle Bunny page, the words Impeach the Jungle Bunny are right there at the top of your post, linked to the hate page itself. Unless you add a comment clearly stating you disagree with the source page, you’re implicitly endorsing it, and your claims of innocence ring hollow. Similarly, when you post a link to an article on Facebook, unless you also add a comment stating you disagree with what the article says, you’re endorsing it … and your claims of innocence are just as hollow.

Clearly, my niece knew the article was bullshit. Clearly, she knew it was nothing more than a cheap shot at Obama. I think her motivations in posting it were wholly cynical: Here, fellow Limbaugh Landers, is another cheap shot at Obama; we know it’s crap, but let’s share it with all our friends and see if it sticks. To paraphrase a conservative figurehead’s famous remark, a lie in the defense of the gun lobby is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of Obama is no virtue.

Serious question, though: do you know a veteran who has received such a letter?

Since the screen caps don’t include active links, I’ll add them here. The web site itself is redflagnews.com. The article my niece linked to, if you’re curious enough to read it, is here.

© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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