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May 22, 2008

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I think it is great that the NYT is reporting on these misconceptions by the public. Unfortunately their methods are somewhat misguided. It is a common belief among most people that the best way to dispel a myth is to repeat the myth and then show how it is wrong. Unfortunately further repetition of things that are demonstrably false is often ill advised. The Availability Heuristic allows people to remember only what they read, and not necessarily the context in which they read it.

While I applaud the NYT for addressing these myths about Obama and reporting resposibly, even re publishing those myths is continuing to contribute to their spread. People don't always remember the context of what they read, and when myths are repeated enough times they become easier to remember. It is better to simply state actual facts about Obama.

I.e. Obama is a Christian. Obama is an American citizen. Obama has worked with Jewish and Pro-Israel organizations in Chicago, Obama has renounced any association with Farrakahn. Wright was Obama's pastor and that is their only connection.

I like the Times article and the fact that it corrects these misconceptions. However, there are also some valid reasons for Jews to be concerned with Obama, some of which are mentioned in the article but not in Brendan's excert. E.g., it's false that al Qaeda supports Obama, but it's true that Hamas does. Mr. Wright is not the godfather of Obama's children, but there are valid reasons to believe that the two men have been close for a long time.

Roger L. Simon wrote, "...many emails I have received from Jews and Jewish organizations [about] Jeremiah Wright....[and] the Democratic candidate spending twenty years in the pew of and taking the title of his book from an anti-Semitic admirer (even idolater) of the racist Louis Farrakhan."

http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2008/05/obama_and_the_j.php

Here's a letter from someone who didn't like that New York Times article at all. The letter is way over the top, but I must admit that it makes some valid points.

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