I'm 48 years old. I grew up in conservative Alabama atop Sand Mountain amid small rural farms. Perhaps I'm from the proverbial old school, but life was simple back then. We lived by a code. "A man's word is his bond" was more than a cliché. And from the time I could speak, I was taught by family, teachers, coaches, etc., that being honest was the most important thing in life.
This even applied to politics. Sure, we made fun of Jimmy Carter and the outrageous gas prices. We hoped and prayed that the Monica Lewinski affair would lead to the exodus of Bill Clinton. We harped on their failures, dwelled on their shortcomings, and made mountains out of molehills, but it was all based on truths.
Likewise, the few Democrats in the South did the same with Ronald Reagan and the Iran Contra affair, and with George H. W. Bush for asking us to read his lips. But again, it was centered firmly on actual events.
If I had to pinpoint a time in our history when truth and honesty began to take a backseat to political favoritism, I would say it was when George W. Bush made the case for war in Iraq. The whole country was still reeling from 9/11, and we wanted retribution. So when George W. Bush suddenly shifted from al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, we hardly flinched.
It was a tad suspect from the beginning. After all, one of his dad's harshest criticisms was that he didn't finish the job the first time. And George W. left little to guess how he felt when he said about Hussein, "This is the guy who tried to kill my dad." Of course, even this was not true.
Then came the smoking gun. Not WMDs in Iraq, but the three pieces of intelligence that the Bush administration used to sell their war agenda to Congress and the American people were all false. In fact, each one had been debunked a week prior to Bush going public with them. Even the administration admits this much, only claiming a week wasn't enough time to verify this information.
That was it for me. I voted for George W. Bush the first time, but I couldn't in good conscience do it again. I couldn't brush aside a lifetime of being taught that a person lying to you is the most disrespectful thing they can do. Sadly, however, I don't know anyone else from the same old-school rural South that was bothered by this at all.
Suddenly truth wasn't that important. Suddenly truth became subjective. As one conservative friend said to me, "Who decides what's true anyway?" Or as another said, "Does truth really exist anymore?" And that was it. Truth was not only unimportant anymore; it was officially deceased.
Flash-forward to today, and it is even more evident that truth is six feet under. Ninety-five percent of my over 1,600 friends on Facebook are from the South, and I have literally read over a thousand blatant lies about the current administration.
The latest one today was a picture of Michelle Obama waving red banners as part of a traditional folk dance while in China, and the color red was all that was needed to turn this into a ridiculous fallacy. The headline read, "First Lady Waves Communist Flags on Tax-Payer Funded Vacation to China."
I thought "Tax-Payer Funded Vacation" was a clever addition, given that most presidents use their own money to travel, of course.
But neither the person posting this nor the others who chimed in as equally distraught took the time to look this up to verify it. And why should they? Because if Snopes.com or any news source corrects this story, we can always fall back on the question of what is truth and who assigns it.
Several months ago I actually took the time to point out on another friend's post the Snopes.com article that stated that it was false that President Obama had ordered the treasury to create the new dollar coins without "In God We Trust." It even had a picture showing the slogan on the side of the new coins.
My friend was quite angry at me for doing that but still didn't remove the post, only commented that she didn't trust Snopes.com. When I asked why, or if she had read any Snopes articles that were in fact wrong, I got no response.
That's not a rarity. I've learned that the majority of my friends do not trust Snopes and consider it another left-wing propaganda machine of the lamestream media. That's why people still post crazy things without checking their validity, things like claims about Obama covering Mount Rushmore during the government shutdown, or that he has FEMA stocking up on plastic coffins to start killing Americans, or any of the other stories that are just as bizarre.
I understand that people get emotional when it comes to politics. I understand that a certain amount of bias is to be expected. It's human nature. But I never thought in my lifetime that the good, decent, hardworking, churchgoing, family-loving, God-fearing people of the South would ever decide that truth was not worth a plug nickel.
I don't agree with a lot of things that the Obama administration does, but I don't have to resort to crazy, obviously false stories to make that point. And because I don't, because I choose to still abide by those same high standards that these very same people worked so hard to instill in me, I'm the bad guy.