I used to think, erroneously as it turns out, that political change happens insidiously. In a way, this is true. It happens person by person. But where I was in error is that the cause of this change is subtle. It is not. It is battered into people day after day until, one day, that person wakes up and actually believes something that the day before they did not. In spite of Goodwin, and with no mention of Mr. H., this must have been what happened to the German people in the 1930's and, ironically, the Israeli people in the last 60 years. If you have it beaten into your head, over and over again, that some people (Jews, Palestinians) or some person (Obama) are not what you thought them to be (ordinary people), eventually, to retain your sanity (not hold two opposing thoughts at one time), you will be led to believe the awful awful.
The American people have had hammered into their heads day after day that Obama is not "one of us," that he was born "elsewhere," that he is in some way "evil." So that now:
Poll: Growing number incorrectly call Obama Muslim
Why Muslim? Well, of course, to tie him in a salacious way with the opposition to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero (I am old enough to think of Ground Zero as the site of the first Atomic Bomb Test in New Mexico.)
This is going to have disastrous results on the American polity. The reasons for it are very simple. No better example is Sarah Palin abandoning her position of Governor of Alaska for the lucrative role of player of the Wurlitzer.
The suffering of Jews in Europe in the 1930's-'40's is well know. The dehumanization of Palestinians is ongoing. The killing of Afghan and Pakistani civilians (and consequent dehumanization) has led directly to the poor response to the Pakistani flood.
Propaganda is a powerful tool.