No Death Panels, No Shariah Law, Everyone Still Has Guns

No Death Panels, No Shariah Law, Everyone Still Has Guns

Alexis ChapmanFriday,12 August 2016

In the near future, once President Obama has left the oval office, there will be analysis of his legacy based on how well he delivered on the promises he made during his campaigns. This will be an important task and be a big part of understanding how history views his time in office. But what’s much more fun is to look at whether Obama did all the crazy stuff other people promised he would do while President.

When Obama Says He Won’t Take Your Guns, History Proves He’s Lying.” That headline is for an article from the conservative media outlet Brietbart. From last October. This has been going on since at least 2008 with the NRA, and others, making similar claims that Obama was coming for people’s guns. The fact that in 2015 this threat to gun owners was still being discussed in the future tense should be an indicator that maybe he is not actually planning on doing this. And anyone who has read the news lately knows that with just a few months left in Obama’s presidency, Americans still have a lot of guns. So many guns. Seriously, why do we have all these guns? So, gun owners can relax now. Or not. According to Fox news, if Hillary Clinton is elected president she definitely “will work to end gun ownership.”

Sharia Law is coming. But Obama is doing nothing to stop it and everything to encourage it.” This is from a post on the Tea Party website that is encouraging people to, if I’m reading this correctly, fax(?) Congress asking them to get into a ground war with ISIS and also just generally object to some other stuff. The post is frankly a bit hard to parse, but it’s clear on one thing; they believe Obama is trying to implement Shariah law in the U.S. And they’re not the only ones who seem to believe that. If Obama has in fact been trying to change our country from a democratic republic to a theocracy governed by Shariah law he’s been doing a terrible job. He’s been openly supportive of marriage equality for the past four years, which is antithetical to Shariah law. There’s also strong evidence that Obama is not a Muslim so would have no reason to want to introduce Shariah law. And, with just a few months left in office he actually seems preoccupied not with destroying our legal system, but rather with upholding it by getting the Supreme Court vacancy filled. Maybe the Tea Party should fax congress and ask them to help with that.

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” This is Sarah Palin’s usage of the term “death panel” from 2009. As usual, the former governor of Alaska is a goldmine of misinformation. What exactly Palin and others were referring to when they said “death panels” is difficult to pin down because obviously there is nothing in the Affordable Care Act that even slightly resembles a panel of bureaucrats measuring people’s productivity to determine if they get life saving healthcare. The ACA did have a provision that would have had Medicare cover doctor’s appointments where patients discussed end of life care with their doctors, which is actually a very important part of healthcare and an area where the U.S. has fallen short in the past. So maybe that’s what the “death panel” accusations were about? That provision actually didn’t make it into the ACA and the whole “death panel” claim was widely debunked and supposedly laid to rest in 2009. Until last year, when the administration once again tried to get coverage for medical conversations about end of life care and headlines all over the country used the term “death panels” again.

It’s pretty amusing to nail down just how wrong people were, and are, about Obama’s presidency, but this level of irrational political fear mongering is obviously very problematic. The factually deficient, emotional thinking that fuels the above claims also seems to be a big part of how we ended up with Trump as a candidate. Furthermore, a climate of crazy makes it harder to be thoughtfully critical of real issues with the President (like why he hasn’t been able to close Gitmo yet or the fact that this administration has been using drones to kill terrorists for years but only just this week released the rules governing that practice).

Beyond being funny and frustrating, looking at these theories about Obama’s presidency can be useful too. Taking note of what accusations, predictions, and promises from past campaigns did and didn’t come to pass can hopefully make us better at evaluating the likely truth of what is being said by and about the current candidates. And while it may seem that the recent wild accusations are the hallmark of how bad political discourse in this country has become, that’s actually not the case, U.S. politics have always been this bad. Obama’s opponents’ baseless claims that his birth certificate was a fake were ridiculous, but during the 1800 presidential campaign Jefferson’s opponents used an even shadier tactic; they falsely reported that Jefferson was dead.

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Image Credit: Matt Johnson on Flickr

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