icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle



I'm sad today.

When the crazies and the crackpots, the Donald Trumps and the Orly Taitzes and the rest, were hooting and hollering about President Barack Obama's birth certificate, casting aspersions about(or flat-out denying) his place of birth, it was easy enough to mock them. Every time Trump and his ilk argued that Obama needed to show his birth certificate, it was easy to respond that he had, that the form that he had released is considered official proof of birth for all Hawaiians, good enough for procuring drivers' licenses and passports, and that nobody else from the 50th state is ever required to produce anything else.

And every time the Tinfoil Hat Brigade mumbled on and on about "missing" documentation or secrets that Obama had spent [insert random amount of money here] to somehow hide, they just looked more and more divorced from reality.

And this is why I am sad.

Because today, the President of the United States, a man who - whatever you might think of his politics - is in every way a testament to the American dream, felt obliged to seek special dispensation from Hawaii to receive and release his long-form birth certificate, so that he could prove he was born in the country he leads - a fact that was never disputed by even the slightest shred of evidence. Writing in the Washington Post, Adam Serwer expressed it far better than I could:
Aside from being one of the most idiotic moments in American political history, this marks a level of personal humiliation no previous president has ever been asked to endure. Other presidents have been the target of crazy conspiracy theories, sure, but few have been as self-evidently absurd as birtherism. None has been so clearly rooted in anxieties about the president’s racial identity, because no previous American president has been black.

This whole situation is an embarrassment to the country. Yesterday Jesse Jackson described birtherism as racial “code,” but there’s nothing “coded” about it. It’s just racism. I don’t mean that everyone who has doubts about the president’s birthplace is racist. Rather, the vast majority have been deliberately misled by an unscrupulous conservative media and by conservative elites who have failed or refused to challenge these doubts ...

Sadly, those who fostered doubts about the president’s citizenship are unlikely to relent in the face of factual proof, because birtherism was never about the facts. For its most ardent proponents, it was and is about their inability to accept the legitimacy of a black man in the White House. Nothing about the decision to release the president’s birth certificate can change that.

And as if to prove him right, Trump and others have now pivoted to argue that Obama somehow didn't deserve to go to Harvard, that there is something fishy about the fact that he not only went there but edited the Harvard Law Review. It is of course a small step, and an implicitly assumed one, that there is something fishy about his being president.

I tried to cheer myself up by taking to Twitter, and demanding to know why Trump hadn't produced any documentation to prove that he was not a Nazi between 1939 and 1945 (and yes, I know he was born in 1946). Childish? yes, but no more so, and no less fantastical, than the birthers.

And, for a few minutes, it made me smile.
Be the first to comment