The Dumb, The Misled, and Sarah Seltzer

Meet Sarah Seltzer.

She’s one of the great untold stories of the internet — that invention that allows everyone to have a voice whether they make good use of it or not. And, regrettably, she does not.

To wit, her essay on Alternet.org (“16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe – And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them”) where she writes:

“Americans are often misinformed, occasionally downright dumb, and easily misled by juicy-sounding rumors.” Of course, it is only the “right wing…that takes full advantage of this reality.”

Setting aside that Ms. Seltzer is just your garden variety rude, insulting self-perceived elitist (Americans are neither dumb nor easily misled), the evidence she provides readers to support her case would not pass muster in a 7th grade debate class.

“Polling data during and after last week’s midterm elections suggested that many Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes — even though the reality is that our president actually lowered them for most of us.”

Here are the facts.

Technically, the “Making Work Pay Tax Credit” passed by President Obama could be considered a “tax cut.” Then again, it was only $800 for married couples and $400 for singles. During the worst economic crisis in modern history, that $800 sure went far, I bet! It’s also only good for two years.

Then again, it’s a convenient omission that the Bush tax cuts have saved all Americans far more money since they were instituted. In 2000, a family earning $40,000 paid $6,000 in federal income tax. Between 2001 and 2008, under the Bush Tax Cuts, that same family saved $800 each and every year. Folks in the middle and higher brackets saved even more — each and every year — amounting to thousands of dollars.

It’s interesting that Ms. Seltzer chides dumb Americans for not giving Obama credit for his meager rebate and yet, she seems like one of the folks (the Left) who perpetrated the lie that those tax cuts were “only for the rich.” She must believe that she can take those dumb and easily misled Americans for granted by glossing over that inconvenient truth.

“This means that people trust pundits like Rush Limbaugh, a major force behind spreading that lie, over the numbers on their own tax returns.”

Rush was a “major force behind spreading that lie!” This statement is made — without any evidence at all. Oh, right, we’re dumb and easily misled Americans, who are supposed to take her word for it! After all, she’s….uh…wait….who is she, again? The EIB Ombudsman?

“Half of new Congressmen don’t believe in the reality of global warming.”

Okay, this claim has to be right! After all, it comes from that bastion of Left wing impartiality – ThinkProgress.org! That terrific organization is so kind as to provide links to back up their claim. Except when one actually looks behind those links, ones find that Ms. Seltzer is being a bit – what’s that word? Oh, yes. Misleading. A random click on ThinkProgress’s link for Ruth McClung’s page does not provide a question asking if global warming is a reality. The actual question asked is, “To what extent, if any, does global warming pose a threat to lives, property and the economy?” Ms. McClung provides a comprehensive answer to that question.

Moving on, Ms. Seltzer makes several allegations that she simply insists are true, and of course we should absolutely, positively, take her at her word.

Because she is…uh…who is she again?

“Nearly one-fifth of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Thanks, Fox news, for acting like this was a matter of opinion, not fact.”

You know, it seems odd that Fox News’ influence would be so great so as to trick 20% of Americans, especially since the Pew Poll she cites says 45% of Democrats believe he’s a Muslim. I had no idea so many Democrats watched Fox News, and believed those nasty commentators who claimed Obama was a Muslim.

Who on Fox News actually pretended this was a fact, by the way? No evidence cited. Surprise! I guess Ms. Seltzer just assumes us dumb Americans will be easily misled by what she says … again.

“Two out of five Americans, despite the whole separation of church and state being a foundation of our democracy thing, think teachers should be able to lead prayer in classrooms.”

Ms. Seltzer – a member of the “tolerant” Left – deliberately mischaracterizes the desires of having classroom prayer as being a lack of awareness of the separation of church and state. Somehow wanting prayer in school makes people dumb. I don’t really care for the idea myself, but I wonder if wanting universal healthcare that we can’t pay for makes anybody else dumb?

“Many Americans still believe in witchcraft, ESP and other supernatural phenomena.”

Of course, such things do not exist. However, exactly how many does “many” refer to? Just enough to maintain an elitist tone, make an emotional appeal to her audience, and toe that 7th grade debate team line, is my guess.

I could go on and on, but I want to address one last statement Ms. Seltzer makes in her essay. It really says volumes about who she is.

“25 percent of Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution while less than 40 percent do. Consider the fact that several of our newly elected officials, specifically newly elected Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, share that belief.”

For all of Ms. Seltzer crowing about how dumb Americans are so easily misled, it would really help her case if she did not willingly distort Gov. Brownback’s own words – words printed in the New York Times on May 31, 2007. Read his essay in its entirety.

Then-Senator Brownback provides a very eloquent and rational statement of his beliefs. His presentation acknowledges the profound mysteries that face human beings, and how a balance between faith and reason can exist, without one excluding the other.

Ms. Seltzer mocks how Americans are uneducated about religion. In doing so, she not only exposes her own ignorance concerning the multiple and varied ways in how people conceive of God, but she demonstrates a provincial conception of the Divine. Indeed, she projects her own feeble-minded crayon drawing of the Old Man With A Beard On A Heavenly Throne onto Gov. Brownback, and then proclaims the Governor is a dolt for believing that this cartoon image created the Universe. If there is any better way to expose the woeful shallowness of her metaphysical perspective, I am at a loss to find one.

We are fortunate that, to date, Ms. Seltzer’s writings have been relatively confined. With any luck, she will be further pushed to the fringe, where she belongs.

Finally, I have to wonder – if Ms. Seltzer believes that Americans are as dumb and easily misled as she believes – does that include the millions who voted for Barack Obama?

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