On Dec. 8, President Barack Obama, a man who has sparked more common myths that perhaps any president since John F. Kennedy, will appear on the Discovery Channel program "MythBusters." While the subject of the program will deal with whether Greek scientist Archimedes could have possibly set fire to an approaching Roman army using only a mirror and a reflection of the sun's rays, the show might have drawn directly from the president's own bio to find other matters still in need of debunking.
Surge Desk has a look at the most persistent misinformation about the 44th president.
1. President Barack Obama is a Muslim
Perhaps no single Obama myth has had more staying power than the claim that the president is, despite his assurances, a Muslim. In fact, recent polls show that a growing number of Americans hold this view. At the heart of the rumor is the belief that Obama is Muslim by birth, which is in conjunction with a patriarchal view of how religious affiliation itself is determined.
While Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was raised as a Christian in the United States, his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was brought up a Muslim in Kenya. The couple met as students at the University of Hawaii, where Dunham went on to study anthropology and Obama took up economics. Neither, however, seemed very religious at the time of their son's birth.
"I was not raised in a religious household," Obama wrote in "The Audacity of Hope," which was released in 2006, and later described his mother as having a "healthy skepticism of religion as an institution."
Back in 2008, Obama told an audience that his father's religion didn't influence him much. "My father was basically agnostic, as far as I can tell, and I didn't know him."
After divorcing his father when Obama was 2 years old, Dunham then married Lolo Soetoro, a self-identified Muslim from Indonesia, in 1965, after meeting him at the University of Hawaii. For a brief time as a child, Barack Obama himself went under the name "Barry Soetoro."
2. Obama went to school at a radical madrassa.
At the age of 6, Obama, his mother and Lolo Soetoro moved to Indonesia. For two of the four years that the family lived in Jakarta, Obama attended a Catholic elementary school. But the two years he spent at Muslim school have been the ones that have since gained notoriety and became a flash point on the campaign trail of 2008, helping foster the Obama as Muslim meme.
The charge that Obama attended a Wahhabi-style madrassa was first put forth by Insight magazine, but Fox News quickly ran with the story, blaming Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for spreading it. CNN provided much of the debunking of the myth that at 6, Obama had been forever radicalized.
3. Obama wasn't born in the United States.
"Birtherism," as it is commonly known, is the belief that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and is therefore not eligible to be president. Despite having had his birth certificate examined by the Hawaii Department of Health, releasing it electronically, granting independent organizations the opportunity to inspect the physical document and producing birth announcements in two Hawaii newspapers from 1961, adherents of the Obama-as-foreigner theory persist in their view that Obama was really born in Kenya.
4. Obama wants to start an American equivalent of the "Hitler Youth."
Even before President Obama delivered an address to the nation's schoolchildren on Sept. 8, 2009, many Americans held the belief that he, like Adolf Hitler, was waging a campaign to control the hearts and minds of the under-18 population in the U.S. As proof, many commentators pointed to random YouTube videos of kids singing songs about the man who promised hope and change. So, when Obama made it known that he would, via satellite, beam his message into public school classrooms nationwide, the response from his critics swift.
"Hitler had the Hitler Youth," Michael Savage said on his radio program on Sept. 2, 2009, "and Obama would like to have the Obama Youth."
But the president's ho-hum rhetoric about working hard and taking responsibility for one's education were hardly the stuff to inspire lock-step goose-stepping.
5. Obama is "the most anti-gun president in U.S. history."
If you believed the National Rifle Association in the run-up to the 2008 election, if he was elected, Obama would be the "most anti-gun president in American history." While that perception has not greatly diminished in the first two years of his term, Obama has been repeatedly criticized by liberals for his lack of action on gun control. In fact, as the Chicago Tribune reported, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave him an "F" for what it viewed as the president's abysmal record at trying to enact new gun control legislation.
What will the next generation of Obama myths look like? Well, perhaps one needs only to ask Obama's family in Africa, who now seem to be promoting the notion that Barack Obama Sr. was not actually killed in a car accident in 1982, but was the victim of a murder and cover-up. Paging "MythBusters: Africa!"
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