Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Do Women Have to Register for the Draft? No. But Misinformation Spreads. – New York Times

Planting the seeds of passion

In a way, the ideological confusion online channels the passion that brought the issue under congressional consideration in the first place.

The Obama administration opened combat roles to women back in December 2015, stirring a national conversation that, as demonstrated by the article’s resurgent popularity, has continued to this day.

Representative Duncan D. Hunter, Republican of California, introduced the initial amendment to expand the draft to women in April 2016, but voted against it. Mr. Hunter introduced it to “force the conversation” in Congress about the administration’s new policy, said his chief of staff, Joe Kasper.

Though the amendment passed 32-30 in the House Armed Services Committee, Claude Chafin, a spokesman for the committee, told The Times it was clear it would not survive a vote by the full House. So the provision was taken out of the House version of the bill. And while the amendment passed the Senate, it was ultimately stripped out of the final Senate version of the bill as well. Instead, the final law, as passed in December, established a national commission to study the draft’s “utility and future use.”

Old story, new context

Fast forward to this month. Mr. Trump ordered airstrikes in Syria amid heightened tension with North Korea and Russia. The liberal Facebook page “Bernie Sanders Lover” shared a link to the June story without additional comment.

The page’s administrator, Chris Friend, told The Times that he was reminded of the earlier story and shared it with his readers after the Syria strikes for a reason.

Mr. Friend said he understood that the amendment was stripped from the final legislation, “but to me, it is a bigger story that it was included in the first place and that people missed the story. Personally, I’ve been feeling a ramp-up for a large-scale conflict for a while now.”

While Mr. Friend had a bigger picture in mind, he said that many of his readers were incensed by the article, suggesting that a “white, male, dominant, Christian, warmongering” Congress wanted to send “your sons and daughters to fight for Trump’s cause.”

Mr. Friend, essentially, had given old news a new context — a not uncommon phenomenon in the digital age, said Peter Adams, senior vice president for educational programs at the News Literacy Project.

Multiple studies have shown that most news consumers seldom read entire articles. For many, in this new and continuously expanding information landscape, a glance is enough to confirm existing biases and emotions.

“They think they know what it’s about, based on the headline,” Mr. Adams said. “Fear can drive people to share quickly and not think as much or be as critical. That’s where it gets its virality.”

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