Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Making it seem as if anyone said anything you want

I was having a conversation recently with some acquaintances, one of whom is a doctrinaire Tea Party type — let’s call him TP — and the subject of the Civil War came up.

“The Civil War was not fought over slavery,” TP said.

“If the president who was shot in the back of the head in a theater could speak, he might differ with you,” I said. 

“No, it’s true,” TP said. “Lincoln said it in a letter to some newspaper editor.”

What TP was referring to was the Aug. 22, 1862, letter from President Lincoln to the the famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley, in which Lincoln stated: 

“If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

The letter, when read verbatim, out of context, to someone not familiar with all that was going at that time could then be used as it is being used now by Tea Partiers looking to defend Confederate monuments and the honor of the Confederate cause.

Of course, Lincoln was readying to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation in just just four months on New Year’s Day 1863, an action which should have forever put to rest any notion of whether the war eventually ended up being about slavery in Lincoln’s mind. 

His letter to Horace Greeley is widely seen by historians as Lincoln playing politics, trying to convince everyone that, no matter how much of a tyrant the Confederacy tried to say he was, he really just had the best interests of the Union in mind. (Some also believe that words such as these by Lincoln were anticipatory in trying to lessen the blow of the Emancipation Proclamation.)

Yet he we are 154 years later and the forces who would defend the Confederacy for whatever reasons are using Lincoln’s words (all just in text form, mind you) to convince entire swaths of the population that he really didn’t care about freeing the slaves.

It really is so easy to do in an age where people on both sides of the political divide increasingly get their news only from sources which match their political sensibilities, left or right.

As I listened to this acquaintance continue to try to convince me that I was wrong about the Civil War, I was taken back to an episode of the Radiolab podcast I heard this summer, and meant to mention in this space then, but never got around to it.  (You can just hit the play button below to listen to it yourself.)

The hosts of Radiolab said of making this episode that the more they got into the subject matter, the more if sent chills down their spines. I thought that might be hyperbole when I first read the words.

Not so after I listened to the podcast, titled “Breaking News.” I thought it was worth sharing with you if you did not get a chance to hear it a couple months ago.

Imagine if it were this easy to get anyone you want to say anything you want by using just an audio recording of their voice.

If you the think the news is broken now and people believe strange things they read, just wait until everything you say in audio recordings can be changed as easily as moving around some text in a transcript.

Snopes: Was Abraham Lincoln Racist? edition

flatulence weight loss waist measure jefferly.com diet plan farts snopes
Sorry, internet. You’ll have to try something other than the widely-discussed flatulence diet plan.

From “White Student Unions” to allegedly racist Abraham Lincoln protest signs, this week’s Snopes takes on some pretty widely disseminated myths and possible myths. Even a certain blog, which shall remain nameless, thought the Campbell’s Soup hoax was real. (Wishful thinking will lure you into believing every time!)

So let’s get to it:

Contrary to Internet search engine wisdom, farting does not burn 67 calories and is not a practical weight loss mechanism.

Anonymous sources said rumors of an ISIS attack at a WWE event didn’t come from their operatives.

No, President Obama didn’t ban Christmas trees or “Merry Christmas” from VA facilities.

Toby Keith has not recorded a song nor is he planning a benefit concert for Syrian refugees.

Rumors claimed eight Syrians were “caught” sneaking into the United States

Donald Trump insisted he saw footage of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on 9/11, but the incident he referenced never occurred.

A Superman poster shows the comic book hero talking to children about the importance of respecting diversity.

Missouri State University students protested to get Abraham Lincoln removed from all U.S. currency because they believe that the former president was racist.

A number of lesser-known Dr. Seuss works espoused a firm stance on political issues of the day.snopes

A viral quote describing various tragedies in the life of Keanu Reeves was not penned by the actor.

Social media rumors claimed President Obama dropped leaflets warning ISIS militants of imminent airstrikes against them.

A photo of Syrian children killed in an attack is real, but it dates back to August 2013.

Lawyers representing the family of “clock kid” Ahmed Mohamed sent Irving city officials letters demanding payment of $15 million in damages and apologies.

A Facebook page mimicking Fox News published an odd, fabricated claim about a carnivorous “pot rabbit plague.”

An official Campbell’s representative did not insult a customer on the company’s Facebook page after she expressed her views on same-sex unions.

There probably isn’t even one legitimate white student union at a major university, much less dozens of new ones.

On 22 November 2015, the Facebook page New Yorkers posted a photo purportedly showing a 41 lb rat that was caught in New York City.

No, UPS isn’t smuggling refugees into the United States in the dead of night.

A Facebook offer for a 50% off coupon good at Target retail stores is a survey scam.

No, National Geographic hasn’t begun covering nonsense since their merger with Fox. Campbell soup can

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s racial background has sparked a number of long-circulating rumors, but there’s no compelling evidence behind such claims.

Is Saudi Arabia allowing thousands of air-conditioned tents to stand empty while keeping out Syrian refugees?

No, cranberry farmers aren’t netting and canning dolphins during the harvest season.

There is a secret card hidden in the lid of the Cards Against Humanitycard game.

Video of a Black Friday fight over vegetable steamerswas probably staged. 

That’s it for this week!

Remember: don’t initially believe everything you read, no matter how much it validates your beliefs. 

saudi arabia jefferly.com tents air conditioned refugees
An image widely used to disseminate a story alleging thousands of tents stand empty in Saudi Arabia, which is purportedly refusing to take in Arab refugees its policies are helping to create.

This week's Snopes round-up

SnopesLogoEvery week I get an e-mail of updates to the Snopes.com web site that investigates rumors that are bouncing around the internet. Some of the rumors are old. Some are new. When the rumors are false, they tend toward the ridiculous end of the spectrum usually involving some right-wing craziness about black helicopters coming to take away their bibles and guns.

Here are some from this week. Remember, some of these are not new, but Snopes sends an alert when the page is updated in some way. The rumor is listed first, followed by a button that will take you to the latest update for that rumor. Each button points up to the rumor with which is it associated. Have fun informing yourself so you can debate your crazy right-wing friends next time they bring this stuff up.

Updates This Week

Rumor: A Mattel talking doll uttered the phrases ‘Islam is the light’ and ‘Satan is king.’

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Rumor: President Obama had a Marine staff sergeant relieved for pointing out that his U.S. flag lapel pin was upside-down.

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Rumor: President Obama is purging military leaders who will not agree to fire on U.S. Citizens.

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Rumor: Photograph shows a young Nancy Pelosi as ‘Miss Lube Rack’ of 1959.

snopes.com Update  11 April 2015_html_7b48ee78

Rumor: The White House used passages from the Koran during its annual Easter egg hunt.

snopes.com Update  11 April 2015_html_7b48ee78

Rumor: A photograph shows Scott Walker posing in lingerie on a Nazi flag.

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Rumor: The NRA has banned the carrying of guns from their own national convention.

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Rumor: A portrait of Abraham Lincoln was removed from the White House to make way for a picture of the Obamas’ pet dogs.

snopes.com Update  11 April 2015_html_7b48ee78

So wrong on so many levels

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