Political extremes: Could bin Laden be a political hoax?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0511_ov_White_House_team_gets_a_bin_Laden_update_photo_by_Pete_Souza.jpgCOULD THEY HAVE FAKED IT? President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of the administration’s international security team receive updates on Osama bin Laden as the mission unfolded. White House photo by Pete Souza provided for public use.Is it possible that the Obama Administration faked the death of Osama bin Laden? Al Qaida says bin Laden is dead. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney—no fan of Obama—says so. Cheney actually praised the president on Fox News for making the decision to send in the Seal team.

But not everyone thinks it’s true. It could be—it just might be—a political trick. There are Americans who wonder if bin Laden’s death is an elaborate hoax perpetrated to boost the president’s sagging approval ratings. If it’s not a hoax, they ask, why won’t Obama publish the photos? They use a similar line of reasoning to be skeptical about the president’s country of birth. If he really was born in the U.S., why did it take so long for him to produce his long-form birth certificate?

These skeptical Americans are among the Staunch Conservatives who intensely dislike and distrust Obama.  Now, I want to be clear that this is not Pew’s finding. Their survey, which is the basis of our discussion this week on OurValues.org, was conducted prior to the raid on bin Laden’s compound or the release of the birth certificate. But I’ve observed the skepticism among the Staunch Conservatives I know. They have doubts about the death of bin Laden and wonder about the veracity of the long-form birth certificate.

Pew finds that 84% of Staunch Conservatives strongly disapprove of Obama’s job performance. And 70% rate him very unfavorably personally. Pew researchers call strong disapproval of Obama a “powerful unifying factor among fervent conservatives.” Solid Liberals have favorable feelings about Obama and his job performance, but their love of the president is no match for the Staunch Conservatives’ disdain.

You might applaud those who doubt bin Laden is dead, or that Obama was born in the U.S.—or you might be appalled that anyone could have such doubts. Either way, the fact is our beliefs are based on faith. We really don’t know if the Al Qaida leader is dead. We weren’t there. We didn’t see it with our own eyes. Even photos would not be enough. Hollywood’s special-effects wizards could conjure images that look like the real thing. And the same is true for the long-form death certificate. That, too, could be faked and we wouldn’t know it.

The facts are always subject to interpretation, and our interpretations are colored by the lens though which we see the world.  Our values are elements of the lens and influence the acceptance or rejection of any “facts.”

What do you think about the facts?

Do you accept the Obama Administration’s view? 

Are you as skeptical as some Staunch Conservatives?

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(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)

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