“I would appreciate it if someone would look into it,” she concluded in a handwritten note she had included with the mailing.
Curious, I opened the other letter and started reading. “Barrack Hussein Obama is not a citizen of the United States!” it began. “You read it right — NOT a U.S. citizen!”
The author went on to promise he had “smoking gun” evidence. Over several pages, the letter spun out a wild conspiracy theory that promised to expose the nation’s 44th president as “the biggest hoax ever” and also “the vilest traitor that America has ever known.”
As a result, all of Obama’s health-care reform would “be voided.” Presumably, every executive action taken by Obama from January 2009 until present would be wiped away. It’s sort of like one of those TV shows where at the end of a plot-twisting season we’re told it was all a bad dream. Yeah, right.
I sense there are deeper questions at play, a small morsel of doubt felt by some Americans. Could it be that our president really is an imposter? Is there a chance that he hoodwinked the nation? Is this mystery man leading the nation down a path from which we will never recover?
I wish the part of the United States that clings to birtherism and other wild conspiracies about Obama had more faith in their country and its people.
Let’s pause and consider our history. Of the 44 men who have served as U.S. president, all have been subjected to some level of conspiracy and fear-mongering. Bill Clinton, we were told in the 1990s, was much like a mafia don responsible for the deaths of hundreds of his enemies. Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy,” according to the John Birch Society. Franklin Roosevelt and his wife were behind a plot to encourage Southern blacks to violently lash out at whites, according to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
OK, enough. In the words of Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
We, my fellow Americans, are better than this. Over parts of four centuries, we survived plenty — wars, terrorist attacks, financial collapses, incompetent and/or corrupt leadership and so on. At the same time, we’ve made flawed but steady progress toward forming a more perfect union. We’ve been a beacon of light to a world in need of help.
It seems that in each presidential election season some claim that electing this candidate or that candidate will usher in the collapse of the United States. Really? We’ve made it through all sorts of crises in 236 years, and one politician has the power to bring us down? Don’t believe it.
Near the end of the conspiracy letter, it asked “loyal patriots, like you, to provide as much funding as possible.” It suggests gifts of $2,500, $1,000 or even $100.
My advice to this curious Jacksonville letter writer: Don’t believe this hokum and, whatever you do, don’t contribute even a penny to this scam.
For the rest of us, let’s remember that regardless of who wins on Tuesday, we still live in a great and resilient country.
Bob Davis is associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or bdavis@EditorBobDavis. Twitter: @EditorBobDavis.