Numbers can be creepy. Just ask Jim Carey who did a movie about the number 23. From the movie posters, I assumed it was a math movie… the thought made me shudder. So I didn’t see it. In any case, it looked kind a scary. Numbers can be scary though. Some people are afraid of the number 13, and some people are afraid of the number 57.
On May 9, 2008 President Obama stopped in Oregon and made the following statement:
"It is wonderful to be back in Oregon. Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty… seven states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."
You can also view the clip on Youtube.
Now, obviously there are not 57 states in the U.S. At first I thought maybe he was including U.S. Territories, but there are 14 of those, so that’s not the answer. When I do the math, I get the following…
1. There are 50 states
2. He said he hadn’t been to Alaska or Hawaii so that leaves 48
3. He said he had not been to one other state so that makes 47.
4. Given that he stumbled over the number, and later expressed concern at having misspoke… could it be that President Obama meant to say 47, and not 57?
That kind of seems like a non-story, right? Then I received a recent email with another sort of math in it. It went something like this.
1. President Obama said there were 57 states… he is either stupid or it was a slip of the tongue that reveals his evil, secret plans.
2. Since everyone who knows him says he is smart, he must be hatching a secret, evil plan.
3. The email then points out that there are 57 states of Islam, so ha! That proves Obama is a secret Muslim!
a. They extend this third step to make claims he is trying to unite the 57 states against
the U.S. blah blah blah (you can imagine)
4. It could NOT have been that he simply said the wrong number… That is what THEY want you to believe.
So let’s cover each of their steps and consider if our friendly emailer has a good point.
Point number one is a false dichotomy. That means that they want you to think you only have two choices, when there are really more. He’s a list I came up with.
1. He is stupid
2. He is evil and has secret plans
3. He misspoke
4. He was trying to add numbers on the fly, and came up with the wrong number
5. He just saw a 757 fly overhead and it threw the wrong number into his speech.
6. He was wishing he was at home putting Heinz 57 on a hot dog
Point two cracks me up. He’s either stupid or evil… Doesn’t this mean that all good people are stupid, and all smart people are evil? Hmm…
Point three. Point three bugs me a little. Point three, and their associated ramblings presupposes that Muslim people are bad, have secret/evil plans (see #1) and should be feared. It should be obvious that this is religious bigotry at worst, and at best is a gross generalization. But what about the 57 States of Islam? This refers to the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and if a person takes the time to go to their website, they will find out there are actually 54 Islamic States. If you only count the ones that are under Muslim rule, then the number is even smaller. So much for "57" being so damning.
Here is the list:
United Arab Emirates
As far as President Obama being a secret Muslim, who knows? I doubt if anyone has the ability to judge if anyone sincerely believes ANY religion. My email offered no proof that the President is a believer in Islam. I couldn’t find any evidence of him going to a mosque, reading the Koran, praying to Mecca, or observing any Islamic holidays. The email said Obama admitted he was “once a Muslim”, but if he did I can’t find his statement. It also claimed he was sworn in using the Qur’an, but this just isn’t true. The email also seems to ignore the fact that he has been a practicing Christian for 20 years and has even publicly talked about his relationship with Christ. Sounds pretty Christian to me, but what do I know?
I don’t really see why it matters if he is Muslim or not. One thing that I love about the United States is that religious affiliation is not required for public service. Christians, Jews, Muslims and Atheists could all be President of the United States. That is, they could be if we stopped fear mongering for awhile.
So let’s get back to the number 57. The problem with choosing one word or number to “prove” a person is good or evil is that it works both ways. I will now show that Obama is hatching a secret evil plan using the number 57.
1. The atomic number of Lanthanum is 57 and it comes from the Greek which means “to lie hidden”
2. The Saros Cycles of solar eclipses is number 57. This shows that Obama intends to block out all spiritual light.
3. Passenger 57 is a Wesley Snipes film where terrorists seize control. Gaah! This is so obvious!
4. In the TV show Dangermouse, Agent 57 is the Master of Disguise. Evil!
5. 57 is the international code for direct dialing Colombia. He is controlled by a drug cartel!
6. 57 is a municipal district in Russia. He’s a communist!
7. Last of all, Hebrew Gammatria. This is where each letter has a value (like A=1) Here are Hebrew words that add up to 57:
Now let’s use the number 57 to show that Obama is a good Christian:
1. In 57 AD Emperor Zhang of Han was born. Emperor Zhang was hardworking and diligent. He reduced taxes and paid close attention to all affairs of state.
2. The 57th day of the year is February 26th. This is the day John Kellogg was born. Yeah Corn Flakes!
3. During the Crusades, the Knights Templar would say the Lord’s Prayer 57 times if they missed choir.
4. The 57th word in the King James version of the bible is “light”
5. The 57th Psalm says. “I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.”
6. The following Hebrew words add up to 57:
So what’s the point? Symbolism, historical references and numerical coincidences can be used to make almost any point. Don’t accept ideas without evidence. Persuasiveness is not evidence. I’m thinking we ought to stop being afraid of the Muslims in our community, and start being afraid of the people who create these emails. After all, the bad guys are the smart ones…