In a comment this morning, I said that the right-wing would soon seize upon the info that the Arizona shooter advocated burning flags to brand him a liberal.
"Long" in this case amounted to few hours.
Here's a quote from Lamar Alexander.
We know he was burning the American flag. Now, that's not the profile of a typical Tea Party member, if that's the inference that's -- inference being made.
I'm willing to bet that right now the best right-wing propagandists money can buy are poring over everything they can find on Loughner, checking for any word or phrase they can twist into the classic "half-truth twisted into a full lie", the best and most effective type of propaganda.
They are good at this. They are frighteningly good at this.
They twisted an appearance before Congress in which John Kerry reported what another group had said about the action of soldiers in Vietnam into a claim that Kerry had betrayed both his country and his fellow soldiers.
They implied that 9/11, carried out largely by Saudi Arabians and masterminded by Saudi Arabians, was the work of an "axis of evil" that included Saddam Hussein, leading Americans to believe that he was part of the 9/11 attack.
They changed a shocking willingness to let people suffer and die into a charge that those who were black and poor in New Orleans were too lazy or stupid to help themselves.
They changed serving on a board with someone who had decades before done regrettable things into "palling around with terrorists."
They changed a mandate to pay for voluntary sessions with medical and/or legal professionals into mandatory sessions with government bureaucrats involving lectures on dying, and finally into the immortal phrase "death panels for Grandma."
They changed the building of a mosque in Manhattan into "an attack on the sanctity of Ground Zero."(They changed the building of a mosque anywhere into "attempting to impose Sharia law" on America.)
They changed the theory of evolution into "an attack on religious freedom" and the scientific consensus on climate change into "an attack on the American way of life."
The list of examples is endless. I've been watching them doing this for years, awed by their skill while also infuriated by their total lack of respect for the truth.
This is what we have to fight. It's an ongoing fight, a hard fight to win. The right-wing has the backing of the rich and the compliance of much of the media to spread their lies, lies that are carefully and skillfully crafted to both sound plausible and be memorable.
We have people dedicated to the truth. But dedication isn't enough. We have to not only find out what is true, we have to spread that message, refuting the lies, providing the facts, by every means possible. Every day, again and again. And not just on this blog or any other liberal or progressive venue, but to our neighbors, to our fellow workers, and especially to those who vote.
Most Americans are just too damn busy dealing with the pressure of ordinary life to spend the time necessary to separate facts from the half-truths-twisted0into-whole-lies. The MSM won't do this job, so we need to.
If you think I'm wrong, talk with your friends and neighbors. Talk to strangers.
I did the other day, with a man who thought that cutting foreign aid would really help balance the budget until I told him that it represents less than 1% of what we spend each year; who thought that drilling in American territories meant that the oil drilled would belong to Americans, until I told him that it would be the property of the energy company and be sold on the world market to the highest bidder; and who thought that Saddam Hussein was involved in the planning and execution of 9/11, until I told him that Hussein had, yes, talked to Al Qaeda, but rejected their call to jihad, and that the main source of the claim that he had WMD's was a single person (Cueball) that even our intelligence people thought was unreliable.
We talked for a half-hour. I provided him fact after fact, and hopefully made him doubt much of the information he's been fed by the right-wing.
We all need to do this. Not contemptuously, not with the idea that people who are misinformed are "morons" or stupid, but with the knowledge that they've been lied to by the best people in the business.
The best people in the business.
"He burned flags."
A fact that in and of itself means little, but a fact that can be so, so easily twisted into a huge lie.