On this week in which we have seen many Americans celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden, it’s as good a time as any to discuss this problem of the “birthers”. Birthers are those individuals who maintain that Barack Obama cannot be the President of the US because he is not a natural born citizen of the USA. These people maintain that he was born in Kenya (not Hawaii) and that his birth certificate is fake. I used to laugh at the birthers, and I was convinced that they would go away, but they haven’t and I don’t laugh at them any more.
This conspiracy has been going on from before Obama was even elected, and picks up pace from time to time. Donald Trump (who is threatening to run for the 2012 election) is one such birther, for example. He’s a very nice man.
The entire birther conspiracy is not, however, about Obama’s birthplace; no, it is much more sinister than that. It’s about racism. More specifically, the birthers (and likely many others) believe that Obama could not possibly be educated, capable, articulate, and fit for the presidency, because, well, because he’s black. African Americans can’t be president (or claim any accomplishments at all) because they’re not white. In America, only the white can aim for such dizzy heights. And we want to keep it that way, right? After all, if we allow the blacks to get above their station, who will shine our shoes? You can hear the dinner party giggles already. That is what the birther conspiracy is about, and the President’s birthplace has nothing to do with it.
One thing that cannot be said enough about birtherism, afterbirtherism, and all its myriad forms: it is racist at its core. An argument that Obama cannot be who he is — an intelligent, accomplished, American president — because he is an African-American.
Why does the right push the meme that Obama wasn’t born here? Because to admit that he was born in America is to admit that an African-American man, the son of an American woman and a Kenyan man, born in America, is as American as any other American. Why does the right claim that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father? Because no Black man could possibly have written such an affecting book, because…well, you know. Why does the right still harp on Obama’s use of teleprompters, which have been de rigeur since the Eisenhower Administration? Becauseobviously Obama isn’t as smart as he so obviously is, because…well, he’s not white, is he?
This is the sick, beating heart at the center of the right’s assault on Obama’s legitimacy. Not their assault on Obama’s policies — though the right is wrong on policy, such disagreements are why we have politics. But their assault on Obama’s very right to serve in the office of president, because that is an office that, though they dare not say it out loud, the believe is reserved for white people.
Let us state this clearly, and let us not shy away from it: those who peddled the birther myth are racists. Those who continue to cling to it, and who cling to all its myriad facets, are racists. Those who have and who continue to insinuate that a man born in America is not a real American are racists.
They are racists. They are racists. They are racists. And if they don’t like being called racists, they should stop being racists. They should be ashamed of their conduct, apologetic for their actions — not “honored” as Donald Trump claimed to be. Their actions bring shame on this country, on Americans as a people, and most certainly, on themselves.
And, frankly, this editorial from the Washington Post is right. It’s deeply embarrassing that this has gone on (and been allowed to go on) for so long. With all of things America has to worry about at the moment (health care, employment, maintaining two wars, ongoing recession, to name but a few), you’d think someone would have called it by now.