Findlay, Ohio is at about the 3/4 point between Columbus and Ann Arbor, meaning that I've been through the city several times in the past couple of months alone. And, well, yeah.
On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Race, of course, plays into this. One of Obama's biggest problems in the Appalachian area that "proved" his problems among white, working class voters was rumors and e-mail forwards like this. His race may not have been the directly cited reason for the various inaccurate and xenophobic beliefs that are sailing around about him, but it was most certainly the open gate that let the beliefs rush in.
The problem is, of course, that even when they're "corrected", the correction is simply another story they're being told about Obama, one they then weigh against the story they're being told by their friends and neighbors, and one that they're allowed to approach as if they're simply equivalent narratives given weight by their fetishized status as "Middle Americans".
As a fellow Middle American, let me step up and say this: if you believe that Obama is a Muslim, unpatriotic, a terrorist, not born in America, any of the various rumors floating around about him, you are an ignorant, bigoted asshole giving in to the worst temptations of society - no matter how coddled you are by people unwilling to offend you lest they seem like the sort of elitist who doesn't obsess over whether or not Negroes with funny names are going to kill you in your sleep. Facts don't seem to work, so I'm more than willing to try abject shame for their unrepentant dumbassery.
UPDATE: Welcome, Atriots. And the (numerous) grammatical errors are fixed. Breakfast, then write. Must remember.