You would think that after eight years, the tinfoil hat community would have grown weary of cranking out vitriolic nonsense aimed at President Obama and his family.
He is a Muslim. Not just a Muslim, but a Jihadist. He installed a prayer rug in the Oval Office. He was sworn in on the Koran, not the Bible. He has a secret plan to take away our guns. He is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as "Delphi" to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship.
He plans to deliver the country to Islamic jihadists who will convert our churches to mosques, veil our women, toss our liquor into the Pacific Ocean and pack the halls of Congress with radical clerics. He is a fascist. He is a socialist. He is in fact the Antichrist.
And while Obama’s term is almost up, the beat goes on.
No sooner did Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia die several weeks ago, than the cyber-wackos were all over the Internet speculating that he was murdered by President Obama. Radio host Alex Jones spelled it out: “…you realize, Obama is just one vote away from being able to ban guns, open the borders, and actually have the court engage in its agenda and now Scalia dies. My gut tells me they killed him, and all the intellectual evidence lays it out."
Then, when the Obama daughters, Shasha and Malia, attended their first state dinner attired in designer dresses that cost an estimated $20,000 a piece, there was an outpouring of Internet outrage, damning the entire family for a frivolous use of taxpayers’ money.
While it's true that Sasha and Malia Obama wore two dresses worth about $40,000, American taxpayers didn't pick up the tab. In 2014, Michelle Obama's press secretary Joanna Rosholm said that the First Lady's (and, by extension, the First Daughters') gowns are generally paid for for out of pocket, although dresses are occasionally donated, then placed in the national archives.
All of this after a Republican congressional staffer caused an uproar several years ago when she chastised the girls for their appearance, saying, “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has already been subjected to this kind of mudslinging.
She is a lesbian who once had an affair with Yoko Ono. She once told a gathering of Goldman Sachs executives, “But we know the hopes that the little people have for their future — things like school, job, food, clothing on their backs– all of those little things would not be possible without your leadership and innovation.” She once said that children should be raised and trained by the state, and parents should have only a secondary role. She and President Obama were charged with being “accessories to terrorism” by the Egyptian government.
Absurdities, each and every one.
And Donald Trump? He happily helps himself to large portions of this evil stew and presents it as red meat on the campaign trail. He has been described as a walking, talking supermarket tabloid.
Or to quote him directly, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.”
While “truthers” were quick to declare Justice Scalia’s death a political assassination, Trump added fuel to the fire by saying “…but they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow."
That, of course, was Internet gossip which turned out not to be true. The owner of the ranch where Scalia died explained that the pillow was above his head and resting against the headboard of the bed.
Trump has long sided with “birthers” who believe Obama was born in Kenya and holds the office of President illegally.
Despite the fact that these allegations have been disproven, Trump still won’t acknowledge Obama was born in the U.S. and in a CNN interview insinuated that the country has already had its first Muslim president.
Last fall, Trump started to say that he was hearing President Obama wants to "take in 200,000 Syrians." He later revised the number up to 250,000.
The Obama administration is actually seeking to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees. The source for the 200,000 figure was a website that posts fake news called RealNewsRightNow.com.
Trump has also promoted the notion that vaccines cause autism, a claim that started on the Internet but has been widely debunked by doctors and scientists. “Just the other day, 2 years old, 2-and-a-half-years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” Mr. Trump said at a Republican debate in September.
National Review contributor Jim Geraghty, a well-known conservative blogger, wrote recently," We cannot be a party or a movement that gets its understanding of the world from chain e-mails from Uncle Leo."
But it’s worse than that.
Political discourse in this country, which used to be strident but civil, has been reduced to a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners exercise in which truth has become secondary to a desired outcome. The idea is not to debate but to destroy.
It would seem impossible for things to get worse. But Trump’s actions have done just that. We no longer deal in facts but cite malicious gossip created anonymously in the dark corners of the Internet. In doing so, we give the stamp of approval to sinister extremists who are more dangerous than the people and institutions that they target.
These voices have always been with us. But now they are blindly embraced by a candidate who engages in locker room rhetoric while dignifying crass rumors as truth. To the cheers and applause of millions.
Let us hope that 2016 will not be remembered as the year racism, fear and paranoia gripped the country.
Perhaps we should heed the words of President John F. Kennedy:
“So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness…Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com. Follow him on Twitter at @robertrector1.