In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying
The Washington Post has an interesting (and somewhat condescending - stupid Ohio yokels don't know what's good for 'em) story about a nearby Ohio locality's confusion over Obama:
FINDLAY, Ohio -- On his corner of College Street, Jim Peterman stares at the four American flags planted in his front lawn and rubs his forehead. Peterman, 74, is a retired worker at Cooper Tire, a father of two, an Air Force veteran and a self-described patriot. He took one trip to Washington in 1989 -- best vacation of his life -- and bought a statue of the Washington Monument that he still displays in a glass case in his living room.
He believes a smart vote is an American's greatest responsibility. Which is why his confusion about Barack Obama continues to eat at him.
On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It's like you're hearing about two different men with nothing in common," Peterman said. "It makes it impossible to figure out what's true, or what you can believe."
Here in Findlay, a Rust Belt town of 40,000, false rumors about Obama have built enough word-of-mouth credibility to harden into an alternative biography. Born on the Internet, the rumors now meander freely across the flatlands of northwest Ohio -- through bars and baseball fields, retirement homes and restaurants.
Does he choose to trust a TV commercial in which Obama talks about his "love of country"? Or his neighbor of 40 years, Don LeMaster, a Navy veteran who heard from a friend in Toledo that Obama refuses to wear an American-flag pin? [ED.: Well, that's an easy one since we know the latter is true (although he appears to have flip-flopped again now that he has won the nomination and has to win over swing-state voters), and the former is merely the image the candidate wants you to believe. Nevertheless, I agree that false rumors are rampant (I've heard them myself), but this is NOT one of the false ones.]
Peterman hung the American flag on his porch first, in 1960, and the rest of College Street followed his example. By 1980, patriotic displays had grown into an unspoken contest of one-upmanship. Sixty flags planted in one yard on Memorial Day; a living-room window painted red, white and blue; a Buckeye tree decorated with Christmas ornaments celebrating Americana; a gigantic plastic unicorn perched on a front porch and draped in an American flag.
The entire block -- and, soon, the entire town -- shared in unabashed pride and gratefulness for the country that had given them this place. In 1968, a local congressman persuaded the House of Representatives to officially declare Findlay as Flag City, USA.
But with their pride came a nasty undercurrent [ED.: Oh, but of course. Can't have a small town full of a bunch of patriotic Americans in flyover country without there being some dark sinister component at work.], one that Obama's candidacy has exacerbated: On College Street, nobody wanted anything to change. As the years passed, Peterman and his neighbors approached one another to share in their skepticism about the unknown. What was the story behind the handful of African Americans who had moved into a town that is 93 percent white? Why were Japanese businessmen coming in to run the local manufacturing plants? Who in the world was this Obama character, running for president with that funny-sounding last name? [ED.: ... and who thinks we're all "bitter" over racial issues, and that we therefore devoutly "cling" to our religious beliefs and our guns? Yep, we're all skeptical of him because he's black and has a funny-sounding name, not because he disdains our values, all the while condescendingly proclaiming to "understand" them.]
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Democrats Fail to Learn Lessons of 2004 - Part 2: Why Red Staters "Vote Against Our Interests" [UPDATED]
Democrats Fail to Learn the Lessons of 2004
Attention Super-Delegates: Obama Cedes Ohio Valley?
Hey, You're Not Supposed to Say That
Rove: Hillary Over McCain; McCain Over Obama
Why North Carolina and Indiana Really Don't Mean That Much ...
Rich Lowry on Hillary the "Social Conservative" [UPDATED]
Why Is It Working-Class Whites That the Media Deems "Racist"?
Obama Campaign Seeks to Close Family Gap [UPDATED]
Dems Are Beginning to Believe They Can't Beat John McCain [UPDATED]
Obama Delegate Admits the Obvious: "Bitter" Was Indeed a Big Deal
On Disliking Obama for the Right Reasons
What Obama Really Meant Was "They're Nuts"
Obama Disses Blue Collar Voters Again: Says They "Cling to Guns or Religion" Because They Are "Bitter" [UPDATED]
Obama's Problems in Pennsylvania Mirror His Problems in Ohio
Obama Attributes Support for Reagan by Blue Collar "Reagan Democrats" to "Anger Over Welfare and Affirmative Action" [UPDATED]