Colin McEnroe / To Wit
Department Has History
People Of Color
Failing to obey the posted limit
By Colin McEnroe on November 16, 2008 4:17 PM
In the months preceding the 2008 presidential election, a lot of people forwarded "smear" emails alleging one thing or another about Barack Obama. One fairly common email took quotes from Obama's two books and subtly modified them or stripped them out of context (or, in the case of one quote, simply fabricated a passage not found in the books). The purpose of all this distortion was to make Obama seem like a guy who rejected or even disliked white people. The final quote -- flagged as "the most damning of all" -- made it look like Obama had said he would side with Muslims against the United States. (In fact, the real passage concerned Arab-Americans who sought assurances that someone would protect them from violence if they were singled out for persecution.) The email concluded by urging -- in the strongest terms -- recipients to forward it. "We cannot turn ourselves over to this type of character in a President," it said. The email was widely debunked on sites like snopes.com.
Several days before the election, a group of Avon, CT police officers began forwarding the email to each other and to outside recipients. They used, in some cases, the town email system.
I got a copy of the email and shared it with Avon's town manager Phil Schenck and its police chief Mark Rinaldo. Both agreed to look into the matter. The whole thing is made a little more edgy by the fact that, in the 1990s, Avon's police department developed a terrible reputation. The police used the term "Barkhamsted express" to describe drivers of color crossing through town on Route 44 and apparently shared tips about stopping the cars and hitting them with nuisance citations. A black police officer sued the department for racial discrimination. The federal courts eventually ruled for the town, but the case kicked around for years and still appears as heavily cited precedent about what kinds of remarks and incidents a jury can consider in a discriminiation case.
FACT CHECK ON THIS TYPE OF EMAIL
St. Petersburg Times
E-mails twist context of Obama's memoir
By Angie Drobnic Holan
Published on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 at 05:16 p.m.
SUMMARY: Anonymous e-mailers make hay from Obama's memoir, getting quotes wrong or out of context. We read the book and give you the skinny in case Dreams from My Father isn't in your beach bag.
Many presidents write memoirs. Most presidential candidates, however, have not written a memoir before being elected to public office. But that’s the case with Sen. Barack Obama, whose book Dreams from My Father, written early in his life, has become required reading for curious voters, campaign reporters and politics junkies.
The book, published in 1995, is a coming-of-age story about Obama growing up as the son of a white mother and an immigrant father from Africa. It ends before any mention of his political career, with his marriage to Michelle Robinson at age 31.