“Birtherism” = racism

I suppose he had to do it, but it was nevertheless sad to see President Barack Obama give in to the malicious fringe of the American body politic and release original copies of his Hawai‘i birth certificate.

Obama proved he was a natural-born American three years ago when he released the computerized birth certificate that the state gives everybody born here, and it was offensive to see him still being hectored.

No other president has faced demands to produce any birth certificate, much less the original documents to back it up.

The only credible explanation for the unprecedented harassment is that Obama is our first black president and the first president born in our nation’s newest state, where the majority of the population is of minority descent.

We’ve tiptoed around the racism inherent in the birther movement for too long, and it’s time to call the practitioners of this low form of politics on it as they move on to picking at the president’s college records, Social Security number and toddler years in Indonesia.

I’ve been disappointed in the media’s reluctance to expose the racism in this non-issue and was pleased to see a new Associated Press story exploring birtherism from the black point of view. I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

Shortly after President Barack Obama declared himself an American-born citizen with papers to prove it, Baratunde Thurston declared himself a disgusted black man.

“I find it hard to summarize in mere words the amount of pain and rage this incident has caused,” Thurston said.

“This” would be the nation’s first black president standing in the White House, blue power suit and all, going on TV to debunk, in more detail than before, the persistent, he-ain’t-really-an-American rumors fanned anew by Donald Trump, the developer and might-be presidential candidate.

Many African-Americans responded to Wednesday’s scene with a large sigh. The rumors and the controversy had a particular, troubling resonance for them: They’ve seen, heard, lived, the legitimacy of black people being called into question so many times before that, they said, they weren’t shocked to see it happen to Obama over something as simple as a birth certificate.

But they were sad about it, too, seeing what they felt was a high-level manifestation of the idea that when a black person accomplishes something great there must be something wrong …

Rings true to me.

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22 Comments on ““Birtherism” = racism”

  1. zzzzzing Says:

    Most of us who aren’t ‘black’ don’t see it that way, but whatever. The RAAACIST card is always the trump card (no pun intended, I swear) that gets played whenever someone’s tender feelings get hurt.” Oh us po’ black folk – we can’t never get ahead (unless your Condoleeza Rice, etc) cuz whitey keeps us down (by keeping us out of schools and in jails?), and woe is us because everyone is always puttin’ us down – no one ever questions whitey about their birth certificate, (unless he’s John McCain) cuz people hates us so much.” Yeah, right.

    Yes, there are racists out there, but can’t anyone get it through their thick skulls that some people just don’t like Obama (or even just his policies), regardless of his racial background? I’m not a ‘race’ cheerleader, nor am I a ‘Hawaii’s native son’ cheerleader. I don’t care what color the man is – I don’t like his style or his policies, and I suspect there are many others like me.

    By the way, the Clinton camp started this ‘Obama needs to prove he was born here’ thing. so I guess you can label Bill Clinton a racist. Seriously, why it wasn’t taken care of in the beginning is beyond my comprehension.

  2. Doug Says:

    At least you admit the debate is beyond your comprehension. 🙂

    Don’t like his politics, that’s your prerogative. But what the heck does your, “I don’t like his style” comment mean, exactly?

  3. Harsh Reality Says:

    A racist is anybody who is winning an argument with a liberal.

    The birfers are not winning therefore they are not racist.

  4. MynahBlog Says:

    It seems to me that those who bring up the subject racism and make the accusations are the ones who are in fact using it to achieve political leverage. Everyone knows the predictable reaction of the masses to recoil from “racism,” so why not exploit that reaction? It doesn’t matter if your charge is true, especially in the short window of a political campaign.

  5. zzzzzz Says:

    Those of us who have spent a lot of time on the mainland will also recognize that a contributing factor is ignorance of the status of Hawai’i as a state. While racism may be a major factor, IMO birtherism is also dissing our state.

  6. el guapo Says:

    Trump’s birth certificate is an obvious fake. Jackasses born in the wild do not have birth certificates.

  7. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I’ve been saying this ever since the issue first came up. Even if his name were Barry O’Connor – my mother’s birth last name, by the way – and he’d been born in Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine, he’s still be hounded for being a black man.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if his mother were still alive? Probably the birthwers would attack the male first name and suggest that his “mother” is a trans-sexual/gender person who couldn’t possibly have given birth to a child.

  8. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Whoops!! birthwers = birthers

  9. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Hey guys~

    I just saw Shapiro’s long form birth certificate and it was so old, the dates were printed in Roman numerals.

    Hehehehe. Ageism rules!

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    If I hadn’t already finished my flashbacks, I would have stole that.

  11. Cute Lunatic Says:

    You’re right. They have moved on to other things (SS#, grades, etc.) because they don’t like him. I wonder if any other POTUS had this much hounding. I really am surprised that they haven’t said the birth certificate is a fake or that the Dr’s signature was forged.

  12. hugh clark Says:

    Dave makes good, logical sense with this equation. I have longtime mainland friends(middle class Caucasians) who made the same comments last week.

    If the Teabaggers and GOPers realized how they are belitting themselves and their positions with all this stupid stuff they might find new, more relevant issues to raise. In short, they have greatly marginalized themselvesas uninformed bigots.

    Recognize, too, a number of mainlanders fail to recognize Hawaii is a state after 50 years of being one. Ignorance sometimes rules in 2011.

  13. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Richard, the long-form in Roman numberals was obviously a fake. Dave’s authentic birth certificate was a cave painting. 🙂

  14. Michael Says:

    It never bothered me if President Obama was born in Hawaii or not. He won the election to be President. In Hawaii many people who never voted before, voted this past election.

    If Jesse Jackson or previous other African American candidates who ran for Presidency, won, Would they be challenged to see where they were born?

  15. Kolea Says:


    You wrote:

    “By the way, the Clinton camp started this ‘Obama needs to prove he was born here’ thing. so I guess you can label Bill Clinton a racist.”

    I know this passes as “fact” among conservatives, but can you provide a source to back this up? I have tried and have found no statements from either Clinton saying anything like this. Nor anything which can be attributed to their campaign.

    As the 2008 Democratic presidential primary season ws drawing to a close, someone posted such a claim anonymously on the Snopes website. There is no way of knowing it came from a Hillary supporter. Or, if it did come from a distraught Clintonite, upset Hillary was being defeated, that does not mean the Clintons were responsible for this at all.

    The reality is, this story has been promoted by and encouraged by people on the right. And FALLEN FOR by Fox News, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity fans, etc. and NOT by Clinton Democrats.

    “Conservative” used to mean taking responsibility for one’s actions rather than blaming others. What a long time ago that was.

  16. Jim Loomis Says:

    The next demand from the right will be for Obama to release his academic record. (The Washington Times has already called for that.) And if he does, they will pore over every word ever written by every professor he ever had, and they will find some screwy radical paper that one of them wrote 30 years before Obama was in his class, and they will use that to “prove” Obama is a socialist. There is no possible way of ever satisfying these contemptible, rabid, cirrational Obama haters.

  17. Harsh Reality Says:

    Eight years of
    1) Bush stole election
    2) Bush is a fascist
    3) Bush knew about 9-11 in advance

    Yep, what is hpening to Obama is like totaly unprecedented… yep.

  18. Kolea Says:

    I think it is helpful to split the support of the “birther” argument into those who fell for it and those who actively promoted it, [perhaps without believing in its logic or caring to subject it to the normal scrutiny other claims are subject to. Too much of the discussion focuses on “the ignorant” people who believe this outrageous story and not enough on the incredible, well-financed institutional support which went into promoting it.

    There has been a RATIONAL, purposeful logic motivating the political/media professionals who have promoted this story. They are deliberately inflaming hostility to President Obama in order to serve their political and economic agenda. Fox News and Clear Channel Radio, the most dominant radio company in the United States, are both led by very committed conservative owners intent upon weakening Obama and the Democrats by whatever means necessary.

    The “news” function which used to be indentified with the ethical standards of an Edward R. Murrow or a Walter Cronkite has been transformed into a tool of the political right. The “ethics” of the much vaunted Private Sector, namely those of a corporate sales department, have unashamedly pushed aside the notion of a neutral (or at least “fair”) press. And the non-partisan press, rather than referee-ing disputes, limits itself to “objectively” reporting the competing versions of Truth, the “Democratic” version and the “Republican” version. “He said, she said,” journalism, as if they have no way of determining the relative merits of the competing versions to help their readers/listeners/consumers arrive at fact.

    The dominant narrative explaining the “birther” phenomenon, (and I slipped into it with some of my comments above) is to point at the “ignorance” of those who fell for this fantastic conspiracy theory and “tsk, tsk” at this recurrence of the “Know-Nothing Movement,” taking pleasure that the Republicans depend upon so many foolish people to win elections.

    That might help liberals, even “responsible conservatives” feel superior, but it ignores the underlying structural reality as to why this movement was actively promoted by powerful, agenda-driven forces in a way the 911 “Truther” movement was not.

    We have seen the rise of a professional movement on the right to engage in this sort of thing on a massive scale in recent years. These are he same forces, often the EXACT SAME PEOPLE who financed and promoted the Whitewater/ Monica Lewinsky scandal/investigation which crippled the administration of Bill Clinton and almost forced him from office. These are the people, OFTEN THE EXACT SAME PEOPLE who launched a massive campaign to discredit a decorated Vietnam War veteran, John Kerry, with their Swift Boat campaign.

    The “ignorant” or “gullible” GOP base explanation of the spread of birtherism is a sort of back up cover story to which we should not succumb. This episode has been a painful and destructive LOSS for our common Civil Culture.

    There is a saying:

    “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

    In this case, there are lessons aplenty. Including the insistence that responsible adults call “bull puckey” on irresponsible attacks, that the commercial media step up and play “referee” on these sort of things amnd that “polite society” ostracize the opportunists who deliberately promote such arguments.

  19. Guido Sarducci Says:

    By the way, the Clinton camp started this ‘Obama needs to prove he was born here’ thing. so I guess you can label Bill Clinton a racist.”

    I know this passes as “fact” among conservatives, but can you provide a source to back this up?

    John Avalon, author of “Wingnuts” details the origins of Burtherism. He points to Texas Democrat operative Linda Starr working for the Clinton campaign.


    Starr gave Dan Rather the forged Bush National Guard documents which ended upo costing him his job.

    Also is it public record that the first Birther lawsuits were filed by Phil Berg who was a Dem-appointed deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, a Clinton supporter and a 9-11 truther.

    The other big Birther lawyer Orly Taitz is a Clinton supporter and a $1000 donor to the DSCC.

  20. Kolea Says:


    This attempt to blame “the left” for the origins of the birther rumor is pretty a desperate and, frankly, dishonest attempt to evade responsibility for strong support the rumor has developed on the right. And to evade responsibility for the MAJOR institutional support the rumor has received from Fox News, World Net Daily, and various well-financed conservative efforts.

    Phil Berg is a dingbat. The fact that he has filed to run as a Democrat would only reflect poorly on the Democrats if they ever gave him many votes. They didn’t. Orly Taitz, the Queen Bee of the birthers has been allied with and promoted by a whole series of Republican media outlets, not from Democrats.

    The article you cite provides the name of one Clinton supporter, who held the exalted status of a “precinct captain” in the Democratic Party. Are you kidding? This is an example of a significant Democrat or a significant Clinton supporter? A precinct captain is about as low a position one can hold in a campaign. Heck, a neighborhood board member is a higher elected position than a precinct captain.

    The “PUMA” movement of disgruntled Clinton supporters was worked hard by Republican activists trying to flame anger and dissatisfaction in order to cause Clinton supporter hostility to swithc from Obama to support for McCain. The “evidence” that some anonymous posts appeared on PUMA-related websites at the time Clinton was loosing the Democratic nomination ot Obama are probably more indicative of Republican activists “fishing in troubled waters” than of authentic Clinton supporter sentiment.

    If that is the “evidence” for your argument that the birther myth started among Clinton supporters, you are not ready for serious political discussions.

    Once you take responsibility for the widespread cowardice of Republicans in refusing to stand up to birthers within the GOP and accept the widespread institutional support for birther lies on the Right, I will take seriously your minor point about possible support for birtherism among disgruntled and angry Clinton supporters.

    Have some sense of proportion.

    It does not do the GOP much honor when so many responses to the collapse of birtherism are whiney excuses. Man up!

  21. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    For those of you who are using the name Clinton, please include the first name or initial to clarify whether you are talking about B or H.

    Bill was very much involved in his wife’s Presidential campaign; however, I don’t remember whether either he or the candidate herself ever went after Obama. I find it very difficult to accept that either would go after Obama personally although I am sure that they did do so professionally and politically.

    SOMEWHAT CHANGE OF TOPIC; The latest attack on Obama the Son has to do with the troubled individual who was his father. The latest I read about a day ago concludes that Junior and his 19-year-old mother were the reason why Senior was so screwed up and caused his father to be a major failure in life.

    Let’s move on to something more interesting like the the invaders from outer space circling Jupiter as we mock the goofy birthers.

  22. zzzzzing Says:

    I will clarify my comment re: “Clinton camp” to Clinton supporter(s). I don’t care how nuts they are/were – they started it & others picked it up, unfortunately. I think the whole “birther” thing is just stupid, not racist.

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