Fringe Views Not So Fringe

god hates obama

Via Eric Kleefeld, I see Public Policy Polling has surveyed Americans on various conspiracy theories and wild ideas and found substantial adherence to all of them, leading their Tom Jensen to ask “Is extremism becoming mainstream in 21st century American politics?”

Our latest national poll would seem to say yes- 35% voters in the country either think that Barack Obama was not born in the United States or that George W. Bush intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur so that we could go to war in the Middle East. A very troubled 2% of the population buys into both of those conspiracy theories.

[…]

Only 59% of Americans say confidently that they think Barack Obama was born in the country while 23% think he was not, and 18% are unsure. Among Republicans there are more voters- 42%- who think he was born somewhere else than there are- 37%- who will say for sure that he was born here.

The far out sentiments aren’t limited to the right though. 14% of Americans, including 25% of Democrats, think that George W. Bush let 9/11 happen to justify war, and 8% aren’t sure.

[…]

10% of voters say they think Obama is the Anti-Christ with 11% unsure and 8% say the same of Bush with an equal 11% unsure.

Without seeing the poll itself, it’s hard to know what to make of this.  The blog post above — oddly on the free and crappy Blogspot service — does not link the survey and, while Jensen has an email address at publicpolicypolling.com, that’s currently pulling up a “Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)” error.  So, I have no idea what their sampling methodology — or even the precise question wording — was.

Still, it’s not terribly surprising that a large number of people think things which are demonstrably untrue, let alone things which are unfalsifiable.

Most Americans are aware that questions have been raised about Obama’s American citizenship. And it’s a subject that’s potentially confusing to those who haven’t seriously looked into it.  (Yes, Obama was a Kenyan citizen, by virtue of his father’s being one, but automatically lost it upon attaining majority.  It’s a technically interesting question as to whether his mother could have transmitted citizenship given her residency status under the law as it stood in 1962.  But there’s simply no serious question that he was born in Hawaii, one of the 50 states, which renders all other questions moot.)  So, for those who follow the news only by osmosis, it’s not surprising that a few would think he’s not a citizen and more still would have some doubts.

The Truther conspiracy is more pernicious but easier to believe, since it’s impossible to disprove.  There’s no doubt that there was a memo titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” or that Bush received it five weeks ahead of the 9/11 attacks. Nor is there any question that there were bits and pieces of evidence in the possession of various federal agencies that, in hindsight, could be assembled to show that the government “knew” a lot. For that matter, Bush clearly thought Saddam was an evil dude who needed to be taken out (a belief shared by the Clinton administration.) So, all it takes to turn all of this into evidence that Bush let the attacks go on so as to justify his war is belief that he specifically or the federal government generally is evil.

As to the Anti-Christ responses, I tend to take most of them as “he’s a really bad guy” than expression that he’s a specific figure predicted in Revelations. Else, how does one explain the people who thought both Obama and Bush are the Anti-Christ? But, alas, there are always people who believe a given president is that figure. I recall it being pointed out nearly three decades ago that Ronald Wilson Reagan was comprised of 6-6-6 letters. (For what it’s worth, Snopes helpfully explains that Obama does not much resemble the Anti-Christ described in Revelations.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    Is there a problem with who answers polls these days? When I had a land-line I’d just say “I don’t do polls” and they’d say “thank you, goodbye.”

    10% of voters say they think Obama is the Anti-Christ with 11% unsure and 8% say the same of Bush with an equal 11% unsure.

    Were the calls made during “cocktail hour?”

  2. Derrick says:

    Only 59% of Americans say confidently that they think Barack Obama was born in the country while 23% think he was not, and 18% are unsure. Among Republicans there are more voters- 42%- who think he was born somewhere else than there are- 37%- who will say for sure that he was born here.

    Wow! I would love to hear again why people think the Tea baggers are having an honest debate over policy, when a majority don’t even believe he’s “officially” the President.

  3. E.D. Kain says:

    People who hold signs that say “God hates ____” (fill in the blank) obviously have a very, very poor understanding of God – at least of the Christian God.

    What could compel a Christian to hold such a sign is beyond me. We are told to love as close to unconditionally as possible – and we are told that God loves us unconditionally as well, despite our many sins and flaws.

    That someone could be so vapid and so detached from their purported religion as to think that God could hate a President for having a different political philosophy is at once baffling and sad.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    odograph, I answered a Zogby International Poll on the Olympics last night.

    Frankly, if someone asked me if the Olympics coming to Chicago was a sign of the End Times, I would be very tempted to say “Definitely.”

    But a good pollster tells you this will take less than three minutes, asks the questions at a brisk clip and keeps the promise. I’ve hung up mid-poll when I got bored or decided the pollster was wasting my time with these questions.

    But yes, people who answer polls tend to be opinionated cranks. Does that answer your question?

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    What could compel a Christian to hold such a sign is beyond me. We are told to love as close to unconditionally as possible – and we are told that God loves us unconditionally as well, despite our many sins and flaws.

    I’ts because they have been taught a false doctrine, God “hates” sin not indivivuals, and that is his right not ours.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    And another point to the sings; who knows what hell is and who is going there, in the the bible it says a much different thing and that you will be surprised, Hell I’m still trying to figure out how there can be such a place, if their will be no more evil and no more memory of it when the new heaven and earth are created.

    I know that in Greek that forever means permanent, and I think it is used in reference to the end, Jesus himself says that if you are not “saved” you will be destroyed forever.Well it sounds that way to me anyhow.

    The main thing is that there is a way to never have to worry about it.

    I am not sighting contradictions in the bible, I don’t believe there are any, I’m merely pointing out our very very limited human understanding of such things.

  7. Grewgills says:

    People who hold signs that say “God hates ____” (fill in the blank) obviously have a very, very poor understanding of God – at least of the Christian God.

    That or they read the old testament.

  8. odograph says:

    Frankly, if someone asked me if the Olympics coming to Chicago was a sign of the End Times, I would be very tempted to say “Definitely.”

    😉

  9. Wayne says:

    A newspaper clip with a name in it and a copy of a birth certificate that some have issues with. If that is solid proof then I can prove that I was born in 5 different States in the U.S. Also it is not like we can trust the MSM to investigate Obama and\or not cover for him. I also understand that this level of scrutiny for citizenship has not been the standard for past Presidents.

    For those of us that really don’t care, we haven’t heard solid evidence one way or the other to convince us and don’t care to take the time to look into it or pay attention to it. Therefore we would fall into that I’m not sure category. Does that make us “crazies”? I would argue that we would be crazy to accept with all certainty a claim either way of something we have paid little attention to.

    IMO Obama is now President and where he was born is irrelevant. I also think that many on the left use this to distract us from Obama’s agenda and demonize the opposition.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    I also understand that this level of scrutiny for citizenship has not been the standard for past Presidents.

    Now why on earth might that be? Hmm…

  11. Wayne says:

    To tack on a little more, Obama mother having been a US citizen and for him to live most of his life in the US is good enough for me. Also if I had to put money on if he is or isn’t, I would put my money on that he is. That separates those like me from the 911 conspiracies believers who would put bet their money and even their house on the conspiracy theory.

  12. Wayne says:

    “Now why on earth might that be? Hmm…”

    Others except for McCain probably had little question about their citizenship. What is your speculation?

  13. An Interested Party says:

    You made the original point…why do you think this president has faced more scrutiny about his citizenship than past presidents?

  14. Bloody Stupid Johnson says:

    I think people are expecting too much of the average person. These “conspiracy theories” are nothing more than today’s version of “bad luck” superstitions or the idea that strangers are automatically up to no good.

    Now that mainstream information sources have proven themselves increasingly unreliable, the world they used to present with its orderly, explained version of events, gets rejected.

    When the small-G gospel has been disproved, what can people believe? The answer is, “Anything.”