Ed Freeman and Political Manipulation
It goes on and on: See Update.I generally don't want suggestions for True's Honorary Unsubscribe feature; my usual problem is having far too many possibilities for the one slot each week. In July 2009 a new trend started: people wanting me to do an Honorary Unsubscribe write-up for Ed Freeman, a brave Vietnam War helicopter pilot who saved about 30 shot-up kids and was awarded the Medal of Honor -- the U.S.'s highest military decoration.
Weekly Weird News
And then there's the kicker, the angry twist: "Shame on the American Media" for not honoring Ed Freeman with obituaries and news stories after this great American hero died on June 25, 2009. Does that date sound familiar? Might not; I had to look to confirm that indeed it's the same date Michael Jackson died. It is. "Michael Jackson dies and it's 24/7 news coverage," the e-mail that everyone has been forwarding to me concludes. But, "A real American hero dies and not a mention of it in the news. The media has no honor and God is watching."
Ignoring the implication that God takes sides in our earthly wars*, there's a good reason the media ignored Ed Freeman on June 25 in favor of Michael Jackson: Ed Freeman didn't die on June 25, 2009. Rather, he died on August 20, 2008 -- ten months prior to Michael Jackson. Now, I actually pay attention to the obituaries because I honor someone each week. And you know what? I noticed that he died, because "the media" did, in fact, honor him very well with obituaries and news stories about this American hero.
* ("Our task should not be to invoke religion and the name of God by claiming God's blessing and endorsement for all our national policies and practices, saying, in effect, that God is on our side. Rather, we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side." --Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the U.S.)
So who didn't notice the death of the great American hero? That's right: the readers who are complaining about the coverage of someone who did die on June 25, 2009. So if it's "shame on" anyone, it's those who didn't notice those numerous stories about Freeman -- those who either didn't pay attention or, worse, forgot about Ed Freeman. But instead of honoring him, they are letting others use him as a political pawn to complain that the public cares about other people, too. And yet these hypocrites dare to point fingers and scream "SHAME!"? They should be looking in the mirror when they do it.
Worse, this political manipulation was done on purpose: someone had to put that fake date on there, and I have little doubt that it was done knowingly. Snopes, which tracks and debunks stories like this, notes that the same e-mail was previously used to compare the "lack of coverage" of Freeman's death with "some Hip-Hop coward beating the crap out of his 'girlfriend'" -- a reference, Snopes says, to "rapper Chris Brown's having been arrested in February 2009 on charges of battery against his girlfriend, Rihanna."
Yet that was manipulation too: that February 2009 arrest was six months after Freeman's death. There's another similarity: Chris Brown is a black entertainer. Michael Jackson was a black entertainer. And Ed Freeman? A white guy. Smells of racism, doesn't it? Would a Medal of Honor recipient condone his name being used to perpetuate racism? I doubt it very, very much.
There's a reason my Spam Primer talks about spam "and other e-mail pests" like chain letters. They're very often used for political manipulation. Think back to the recent presidential campaign, where e-mails circulated like mad with charges like Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., or that he "refuses" to pledge allegiance to the flag, or "refuses" to wear an American flag lapel pin. Or that he's actually a Muslim. Each and every one a lie, but sent out to manipulate the gullible.
Hey, did you notice? Obama is black too.
Maybe it's a coincidence, but I just don't think so.
Now, if you have legitimate gripes about the president, that's fine. I'm not, in fact, a Democrat myself, and some of his actions have given me pause; no one is going to agree with every decision, every policy, every initiative of any president. But do you want to be used as a pawn in a disinformation campaign with political or racist goals? If not, then think about that e-mail you get that says you should "pass on to everyone you know" no matter how good the cause sounds. Check it on Snopes or another apolitical debunking site to see if it's real, or not. There are plenty of real horrors in the world to get up in arms about, and those horrors are more deserving of your attention than made-up stories designed to support some fringe political position. In other words, think FIRST, before you hit Send. Trust me: that's not too difficult.
Oh, and don't send me the manipulative chain e-mail saying Snopes is political! That's garbage too! Sheesh!
So, did I, in fact, honor Ed Freeman in the Honorary Unsubscribe? No; I had some weeks earlier honored a Medal of Honor recipient (Jack Lucas -- remember?), and in August 2008 someone who was a personal hero and had an impact on the creation of True died, and I honored him instead: Lawrence Urdang. As I said, the problem is having far too many possibilities: there are a lot of worthy people who had real impact on others who die every single day.
The "Ed Freeman" Chain Mail
This is the text of the e-mail that readers have been forwarding to me:
Ed Freeman Medal of Honor Citation
The text of the citation for Freeman's Medal of Honor:
By direction of the President, under the Joint Resolution of Congress approved 12 July 1862 (amended by act of 3 March 1863, act of 9 July 1918, and act of 25 July 1963), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, is awarded by the Department of the Army in the name of Congress to:(Source: U.S. Army)
December 2009: the e-mail has started going around again, with Ed Freeman having "died last Wednesday" and now, instead of Chris Brown or Michael Jackson being targeted, Tiger Woods and his infidelity scandal has been substituted.
If you took a poll, you would likely find that Woods is black too -- yet another data point in the pattern I discussed.
In February 2012, it was changed again to Whitney Houston after she drowned ...after using cocaine. Yep: again a black celebrity. Let the man rest in peace, you bastards! A true hero deserves that much.
My prediction: the next time a black celebrity dies, the e-mail will be updated again with that person's name, and circulated again. Then my question will be, will you be a political pawn again?
Still Going: in March 2015, it's "the thug Michael Brown [and] Trayvon Martin" vs Freeman dying "last Wednesday." Brown was the black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Martin was the black teenager who was shot and killed by civilian George Zimmerman. Ed Freeman is still being used to promote racism. When will it stop?
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