Birthers, Fundamentalism, and Racism

Today the Obama administration released copies of his original birth certificate, which was a “long form” birth certificate, a form no longer used in Hawaii. Previously, the Obama administration had released the “short form” birth certificate, which had been legally accepted over two years ago. Yet, a significant (if only for their volume) group of Americans continued to insist that the President was in fact not born in the United States.

This view has recently found itself moving more and more into the mainstream, being touted by potential Republican presidential candidates such as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. CNN is asking its viewers today if this most recent move by the President will settle the “birther” issue once and for all.

The obvious answer is no. For, the issue was never really about where President Obama was born. For those who will not be swayed no matter what facts are presented are fundamentalist in their thinking. Because of their unwavering belief that they are right and could never possibly be wrong, they will continue to close their eyes and ears to facts. This mindset/worldview is prominent in many religious people and the world of politics is not exempt.

I am reminded of a quote about the existence of God, which WikiQuote attributes to Franz Werfel:

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible

The same is true in issues like this one. Those who believed the President was not born in the US will not be persuaded. Those who did not question his birth place will see the release of his long form birth certificate as unnecessary.

I fully expect to see floods of comments from people about how the birth certificate released today is actually fake and that there is a huge conspiracy to cover up Obama’s true place of birth. So, at the end of the day we have to ask what the issue really is. Tim Graves had this to say earlier on Twitter:

What’s your take? Is Graves right that this entire issue (and the new ones that will replace this one such as Trump’s new soapbox of questioning how President Obama got into Harvard) is fueled by “xenophobia, racism, and bigotry”?

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3 thoughts on “Birthers, Fundamentalism, and Racism

  1. If I told you I wanted to be the most transparent President of all time and then refused to release fairly basic information about my past when asked, you should probably have some red flags going up.

    I think it’s a stretch to say this is xenophobia, racism, and bigotry induced. It’s all politics, even waiting until today to release it was political in nature. The political capital of this story is nearing its peak, today he cashed in. For him to call the birth certificate issue a silly distraction from important matters then to head to do Oprah and a fundraiser in Chicago is laughable.

    This same craziness happened with Bush after 9/11. In 2007 35% of democrats thought he knew about 9/11 before it happened, essentially saying he let it happen and 26% said they were unsure. That’s staggering, but at the end of the day it wasn’t because he’s from Texas, or that he’s Christian, or that he’s white, it has do with the ‘R’ next to his name.

    I do however think the left needs to stop playing the “xenophobia, racism, and bigotry” card every time someone with an opposing opinion disagrees with them. With all due respect to Mr. Graves, this was fueled by politics. His willingness to demonize an entire group of people with one broad stroke is fueled by a hatred of opposing opinions. His statement is an accepted belief for many on the left and the middle politically because it feeds into their stereotype that conservatives are mostly ignorant, uneducated, Christian fundamentalist fools. It has very little to with fact.

    1. I agree with you in large part about it being political. However, we do have to remember that Obama did release a “short form” birth certificate 2 1/2 years ago, the form that is accepted for all Hawaiians now, as the “long form” is no longer in use. His releasing the “long form” at all, I think is a political calculation, albeit an unnecessary move if you ask me.

      To be fair, the “Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened” is sort of apples and oranges with this issue. I agree that it was ridiculous that such a large segment of the population thought he would have known about it and “let it happen.” But, questioning that is a bit different than questioning the authenticity of a birth certificate he has already released and suspecting that he’s “hiding” the “long form” birth certificate because it contained some information about him being Muslim.

      Further, while I think a lot of the suspicion, distrust, etc. of Obama is fueled by politics (the ‘D’ next to his name), I also recognize that questions are asked of him that have not been asked of other presidents and it is not irresponsible or socialist to ask why that may be.

      Is it based on race? I don’t think it is for everyone, but I’m sure it is for some. Just as some probably disliked and were suspicious of all our previous presidents because of their race.

      Is it based on a still too prevalent falsehood that he’s actually a Muslim? I can’t know for sure, but I have had conversations with people who still believe that and believe that a Muslim shouldn’t be allowed to be President.

      At the end of the day the question was not about were Obama’s moves political or were Donald Trumps moves political – we know they were – but is the “birther” question/movement a political move or is it fueled by something deeper that politicians have simply latched onto for political purposes?

  2. It was becoming necessary for him to release it because his approval ratings were dropping rapidly. He cashed in.

    I’m not understanding how you think its an apples to oranges comparison. (It’s almost as if you want this to be about “xenophobia, racism, and bigotry”.) They’re both ridiculous conspiracies that a large segment of a political party believed, even with a good amount of evidence to the contrary. It’s political to its core. There were many theories as to why he was hiding the original birth certificate, the Muslim theory was one of many.

    To say the question hasn’t been asked of other Presidents is slightly misleading. John McCain went through the ringer because of his birthplace. Being a natural born citizen was clearly an important issue for the founders, so I’d imagine early President’s were heavily vetted. Other President’s have also been asked to show medical and college records, so this isn’t a new phenomenon. Some show, some don’t. When you declare how transparent you are, then release very little about yourself, naturally its going to cause more of a buzz and more mistrust, as it probably should.

    The numbers just don’t correlate between the birth certificate issue and what people think his religion is or isn’t. Research it, the numbers just don’t match up very well. Sure there are people who don’t trust Muslims thus thinking he wasn’t born here, but there are many more who don’t like his policies that rode the birther train (and helped fuel it) and kept it rolling this long.

    The original question you asked was regarding Grave’s twitter post. He oversimplified the issue and his “bottom line” is wrong. Again, he did it to feed the stereotype and many have latched onto it, regardless if its based on fact or not.

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