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Our Opinion: Fool me twice…

Well, they’re at it again, trying to pit Americans against each other and thus, disrupting the upcoming presidential election. The Russians? We don’t know, although it is certain that the Kremlin’s online campaign of inciting dissension among us never stopped.

Someone decided Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was a good target. Soon after the identity of the man who massacred seven people in and near Odessa, Texas, a few days ago was released, someone took a social media shot at him. “The Odessa shooter’s name is Seth Ator, a Democrat Socialist who had a Beto sticker on his truck,” read the post. Among other outlets, it appeared for a time on Facebook and Twitter.

There was no such sticker on Ator’s vehicle, law enforcement officials have confirmed.

Using falsehoods and innuendo to stir up animosity is an old psychological warfare trick. The internet has made it much easier to do that.

So has the gullibility of so many Americans.

Included in some of the posts targeting O’Rourke was a picture of a white truck, on which a “Beto 2020” sticker had been placed. Viewers were assured the vehicle belonged to Ator.

It did not. The picture could have been of someone else’s vehicle. Or, the “sticker” could have been laid over the picture, using photo editing software.

Much of the acrimony surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign was generated by Russian operatives, and perhaps others, whose mission was to spread malice among Americans. Clearly, they succeeded.

Are we going to be gullible and, frankly, stupid again, this time around? You know the old warning: Fool me once, shame on you — fool me twice, shame on me.

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