November 21, 2008 | 1:39 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
... not the Secret Service. Though if I were in the political arena I still wouldn’t want to be visited by Ken Silverstein, the Washington bureau chief for Harper’s. Silverstein is no defender of Barack Obama—two years ago he wrote a cover story titled “Barack Obama Inc.: The birth of a Washington machine” that was critical of Obama’s acceptance of corporate money—but in last month’s issue he wrote an informative feature about the campaign to smear Barack Hussein Obama. Much of it involved emphasizing that middle name.
Silverstein focuses specifically on a 29-year-old North Carolinan named Jason Mitchell. The head of a small outfit called Illuminati Pictures, Mitchell, who prefers the moniker Molotov, was the brains behind a viral video about Obama that you probably saw if, like me, you have friends who run conservative blogs or get emails from people who read them. The video, seen above, was called “The Audacity.” Rather than repeating Silverstein’s synopsis or offering my own, I recommend you watch it.
What I found most interesting was Silverstein’s interview with Mitchell, in which “The Audacity’s” producer and narrator talks about how much his Christian beliefs motivated him to oppose Obama:
Mitchell also has launched the website NoHussein.org, which serves as a repository for lurid anti-Obama rumors. The site features a chart that seeks to illustrate that Obama’s political positions clash with biblical views whereas McCain’s positions tend to coincide with those of the Holy Scriptures. “I’m mainstream. I’m not an aloof guy off in the mountains,” Mitchell told me when we first met, at a Chinese restaurant near Raleigh. “I believe Obama could be the end of America as we know it, which is why he has been endorsed by Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, Hamas, and the FARC. He has done everything in his power to weaken our position internationally.”
Mitchell’s parents divorced when he was five, and his father, an evangelical pastor who now heads the Beacon City Church in Boston, raised him. “I was a troubled adolescent, an angry young man who was always fighting and drinking,” he told me. “Dad kicked me out when I was seventeen, which was one of the best things that ever happened to me.” He became interested in the punk scene and spent a year, by choice, living on the street, which is where he discovered God. After reading the Book of Mormon and the Koran, and nearly becoming a Hare Krishna, Mitchell turned to Christianity. “No light came down, but it was the beginning of a transformation,” he said. Mitchell also joined several punk underground movements, first Straight Edge, which opposes tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex, and then the Zealots, extreme-metal Christians.
Religion is the driver, he says, of his worldview and politics. “I believe in feeding the poor, but I also believe it’s theft for the government to take from you and give to someone else,” he told me. “If you’re sitting in your house and someone comes in and cleans you out, you don’t feel better if they tell you on the way out that they’re giving everything they stole to charity. But when people in suits from the IRS rob you, that’s just fine.” Mitchell says he is disillusioned with the Republican Party and is “more anti-Obama than pro- McCain.” He went on: “But I prefer anarchy to Obama. When you compare McCain to Obama, who leaves babies out to die, he looks divine.” As to his political involvement, he says he’s “just a concerned citizen trying to get the word out about things that are dangerous and that have been covered up.”
The rest of the article, which talks about how useful Internet smears were for the Republican Party. We know now, though, that they were ultimately unsuccessful.
Unfortunately, I think the negative consequences of such insincere Internet campaigns may be more longterm than you would expect. Certainly the Web has become a fantastic medium for the dissemination of information, and it’s become a place where citizen journalists can do what those of us making a modest income do, which is inform our neighbors of relevant news. But I think the reaction to the smears we saw this election season will make people more skeptical of the veracity of actually credible amateur reports—not to mention those from the much-maligned MSM.
In the case of the Obama smears, I think valid criticisms of our president-elect were lost in the noise of reports like “The Audacity.”
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