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The Birther Movement: Losing steam or gaining momentum?

Post by Karen Irwin on Aug. 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
August 1, 2009 2:49 pm

Politics without conspiracy is like politics without sex scandals. They just seem to go together- sort of like peanut butter and jelly only not as delicious. Would it be nice, on occasion, to have the peanut butter without the jelly? Sure it would, but conspiracy, sex scandals, and now that I think about it, bad hair are endemic to politics and they always have been.

The newest conspiracy theory, dubbed as the "Birther Movement" and filed under the category of "you can’t make this stuff up, or maybe you can" is that Barack Obama is not an American, therefore under the restrictions set forth by the Constitution of the United States that says a president must be a natural born citizen, Mr. Obama can’t possibly be president.

Like most conspiracies, this birther conspiracy is long and involved, and differs depending upon whom you ask.

Some "Birthers" are said to believe the sinister plot began generations ago when a young socialist named Karl Marx went to Kenya on a lark.

The story goes something like this:

It was Spring break; Karl had just broken up with his girlfriend and had a few deutsche marks rolling around in his pockets. One minute he was crying "I just vant to go some place varm," the next he was sitting around a campfire in a small African village saying "How zou doing?" to a young beautiful villager who caught his eye.

It’s easy to fill in the blanks as to what happened next; A young Kenyan boy grows up with an unexplainable appetite for schnitzel, he works his way to Harvard and in a manner most calculating, he looks for the brightest young lady he can find. He finds her. In Kansas. Blessed with a long lost ancestor’s uncanny ability to get people to see things his way, he convinces this young lady to move to Kenya, have his love child, and then secretly move back to the United States and raise said child in such a way that he will be an absolute shoe-in for the presidency.

It could happen, stranger things have, and if you don’t believe me you can ask all the folks who have been abducted by U.F.O.s.

But make no mistake, the "Birther Movement" takes itself very seriously, i.e. legal funds, spokespeople, mass communication via social networking, etc. It gained momentum during the national tea parties that took place in the spring of 2009.

Originally lead by disgruntled Republicans who objected to the stimulus money being handed out by the federal government in an effort to foil a catastrophic halt in the economy, the tea parties eventually lost their fizzle. They lost their fizzle because Republicans have since accepted the stimulus money and have their hands out asking for more. But one lasting theme that did emerge from these tea parties is the theory that Barack Obama is not "American born."

The signs read, "Where’s the birth certificate?"

The state of Hawaii has come out on several occasions trying to appease these concerns but unfortunately the once dubbed "hair-brained theory" has many reasonable people wondering if the issue of President Obama ‘s birth origin isn’t legitimate. A recent poll showed that a little less than half of Republicans believe this might be true and they question Hawaiian officials.

Whatever happened to state’s rights? All of the sudden a conservative bedrock, state sovereignty, takes second seat to political opportunity. Ah, for the days when a state was responsible for driver’s licenses, fishing licenses, and birth records. Now we need the federal government to step in and assert ultimate authority and demand "proof". Shouldn’t the Hawaiian Secretary of State be the ultimate arbiter for Hawaii state matters? How could so many people question Hawaiian sovereignty and consider this legitimate?

I call it the "O.J. is innocent," phenomenon, because no matter the overwhelming preponderance of evidence dictating the contrary, people see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe. It’s why women over fifty still wear bikinis.

But this Birther movement is no joke. A U.S. Army Reserve major from Florida is refusing to deploy because he believes his commander and chief is in place illegally. The military has now rescinded that Major’s orders and the people over at the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative entity lead by a lawyer who goes by the name of Kreep, Gary Kreep, is calling this a victory for Birthers and they hope other military personnel will follow suit.

Kreep, and others at the United States Justice Foundation, are warning soldiers that all U.S. military serving over seas can and will be prosecuted if Obama’s presidency is found to be bogus. Following their logic to its illogical conclusion: almost two hundred thousand men and women serving over seas could find themselves behind bars.

The good news is that many prominent conservative voices are finally speaking out against this conspiracy theory and calling it what it is: crazy. They do this in spite of the fact that some radio hosts and cable news personalities are still giving it credence causing it to fester and grow. Still, with more Republican leaders speaking sanity we can be hopeful this story will die soon, and enough people will tell these "Birthers" enough already.

But before we let this silly story find it’s inevitable fate in oblivion I argue there might be a lesson to be learned here, a lesson in how things can get out of hand, how fast crazy can spread, and how partisan dislike for a president can take on such thematic obedience that it becomes paranoia. The people behind the “Birther Movement” don’t just want an “official document” they want to undermine and unseat a president by any means possible, even if that means manipulating the public.

To the "Birthers" who just won’t let go, I say let’s let Hawaii be the final word on the subject. We do that and we let reason rule and maybe then we’ll the keep the Kreeps at bay.

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