Emailed 'news story' claims the Obama administration is quietly planning to replace the military oath of loyalty to the Constitution with a pledge of loyalty to Obama himself.
Description: Email hoax / Satire
Circulating since: Jan. 2009
status: False (see details below)
Example:Email contributed by Randy O., Jan. 30, 2009:
Military to Pledge Oath To Obama, Not Constitution
Conservative News and Reporting
"News for the Rest of Us"
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is extremely frustrated with orders that the White House is contemplating. According to sources at the Pentagon, including all branches of the armed forces, the Obama Administration may break with a centuries-old tradition.
A spokesman for General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that the Obama Administration wants to have soldiers and officers pledge a loyalty oath directly to the office of the President, and no longer to the Constitution.
"The oath to the Constitution is as old as the document itself." the spokesman said, "At no time in American history, not even in the Civil War, did the oath change or the subject of the oath differ. It has always been to the Constitution."
(READ FULL TEXT)
Analysis: Notwithstanding the fact that hordes of far-right conspiracy nuts have reprinted the above as factual, it is false. The putative author, "Michele Chang," doesn't exist. The actual author, a New York college student named Matthew Avitabile, published the piece on his blog, Jumping in Pools, on January 28, 2009. It was tagged as "satire," a detail that fell by the wayside as the text made its way from blog to blog and inbox to inbox in the days that followed.
"Michele Chang is me," Avitabile confirmed in response to an email query. "So, yes, it's fake, and it always has been."
Implausible though it must seem to readers with a reasonably firm grip on reality, the central premise — namely that the new administration intends to replace the military's oath of loyalty to the Constitution with a pledge of loyalty to Obama himself — clearly struck a chord with folks who view the President as a shadowy figure with a totalitarian agenda who rose to power via a cult of personality. Several of those who reprinted the article explicitly compared Obama to Adolf Hitler.
Though merely implied in the spoof itself, that analogy was intentional, admits the author, who unapologetically describes the piece as "a creative take on the Wehrmacht pledge in the Third Reich." No conspiracy theorist himself, he insists, Avitabile says he was surprised to find so many people taking it seriously. "Not to say that they were dumb, but I think that the tone of a lot of the rumor-spreading was so quick and so urgent that people really wanted to believe it and spread, spread, spread."
Citing the work of radio personality Phil Hendrie as an influence, Avitabile told me he plans to write more satire in the future and will clearly tag it as such in every case — "if people want to check, that is."
Sources and further reading:
Military to Pledge Oath to Obama, Not Constitution
Jumping in Pools blog, 28 January 2009
Military 'Pledge for Obama' a Hoax
WorldNetDaily.com, 31 January 2009
Last updated: 01/31/09