Tuesday, January 18, 2005

E-mail fictions

A e-mail came over the transom this past weekend that is instructive as to the gulf that divides this nation.
The subject of the e-mail was "The Omission From the New W.W.II Memorial." The e-mail's theme, which is one of a genre that intends to scare the Christian right that it is under attack from within. In this message, we're to believe that FDR's reference to God was scrubbed from the memorial because of zealous censors.
We typically trash this kind of easily debunkable junk, but this time we responded to the sender, who shall remain anonymous. A
link from Snopes.com shot down the message's central claim.
That should have ended this little episode, but no. Our e-mailer had a response,
How can you say that the words were not omitted when they are not present on the wall? The sentence containing those words was omitted; consequently that phrase was omitted. ... We cannot allow the revisionist of history to make such a change.

Of course, the omission is not in doubt. What's in doubt is sequence of Roosevelt's comments.
I responded:
Under your reasoning, they "omitted" a heck of a lot more than four words from the speech. What the snopes story points out is that there are two quotes in the FDR speech that express similar sentiments about absolute victory and total triumph. Only one of those quotes ends with the phrase, "so help us God." It is NOT that quote, however, that is inscribed on the wall. It is the other one. They had room for one short quote. Otherwise, it would have had 200 words. The e-mail you sent out claims that the inscriptions omits the end of the sentence, removing a reference to God. That reference is two large paragraphs away.
The original false story comes from the Washington Times, which is owned by a man, Sun yung Moon, who claims to be the messiah. And that's no urban legend. Read here.

We heard back once more, "I will not argue the omission with you any more; yet I do believe that the phrase should have been a part of the inscription."
Is this what it comes down to? The facts don't matter. The bogus story that is debunked by credible sources doesn't matter. God should have been on that monument and any anecdote, even one based on a faulty remembrance, is OK. Sad.