An email now flying around asks the question, “EVER WONDER WHERE COLIN KAEPERNICK GOT HIS IDEA TO KNEEL AND DISRESPECT THE FLAG?”
Actually, we had given Kaepernick credit for making up his own mind on that. But we were wrong: The answer is Barack Obama.
According to the email, the former President made these comments while serving in the Senate:
“There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression ...”
“The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing.”
“The National Anthem should be ‘swapped’ for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing.’ If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it.”
The trouble is Obama never said any of it, David Lauderdale writes in a column in The Island Packet titled, “Fake news is a hoax, so please take me off your fake email list.”
That’s a pretty disturbing example of fake news.
Lauderdale places this in the context of journalistic standards. Good reporters double-check everything, from the spelling of names to facts that could lead to a libel suit.
No journalist can argue with any of that. But is this really about journalism?
Clearly, this email was written for people who already think the worst of Obama. They’re not looking for objective truth.
But there are two key questions here:
Obama supporters might well ask how an email service provider or Facebook could allow fake news like this to go out.
But wait: Are the ESPs set up to do the proper due diligence and affirm whether Obama said these things?
As the journalist Lauderdale must know, it’s not so easy to do. And once it’s done, should the ESP be in the business of censoring such emails?
It’s one thing to block out-and-out hate speech and calls to violence. But does that mandate carry over to calumny about a former President?
We do hope the ESP verified that the sender of this rant is a legitimate U.S. organization of some sort, and not a front for a foreign power.
If so, we have one suggestion: Opt out of the emails. Then you won’t be bothered by them.