A reader recently reprinted, as a comment to an article about the race between Rep. Rick Boucher and Congressional wannabe Morgan Griffith, a widely-circulated email that claims to contain damning facts about illegal immigrants, food stamps and welfare in this country.
Nothing in the email is true. It has been proven false by numerous “fact checking” sites. Yet people continue to received it and then compound the spread of misinformation by sending out to their friends.
Call it another example of the misinformation superhighway. Lies, damn lies and outright falsehoods speeds through the ‘Net at cyberspeed, feeding the paranoia of the gullible.
Such email frauds have been around for years. One of the worst was a widely circulated email that claimed the federal government was going to start taxing email. Anyone who took the time to check out the so-called “facts” in the email would have quickly learned that the Senator who supposedly introduced the bill did not exist and that the bill number was not the numbering system used by either house of Congress.
Illegal immigrants are a hot button issue for many, fueled by the hate rhetoric of the right-wing. At least once a week, someone approaches me in a restaurant and asks why I’m not writing about “all the illegal Mexicans who get in trouble and clog up our courts.” When I try to explain that most of the cases in Floyd County Circuit Court involves the same old-time surnames that have always been in trouble in the county they refuse to believe it.
Another illusion is the claim that illegal immigrants are draining our social service system. That, too, is a lie. All it takes is a conversation with Carol Ayers, Floyd County’s Social Services Director, to learn that a person cannot collect food stamps or other social service payments without proof of citizenship and a valid Social Security number. Carl’s people are very good at their jobs and they check out all applicants.
Very few Latin families in Floyd County or elsewhere in Virginia collect food stamps or other assistance. When Hispanics get into trouble, their community helps them out. They don’t turn to the government for help.
But those interested in spreading fear have little interest in facts. It’s so much easier to accept misinformation as gospel and pass it on.
It’s too easy for too many to hate. Sadly, seeking the truth is attempted by too few.