Trump, Birtherism and Xenophobia
“I think the Republicans are making a terrible mistake in making this a big issue. We have immigration, we have the deficit, we have the economy. Those are the things that the public cares about. . . . If the Republican party doesn’t start addressing that, they will lose and they deserve to.” – Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Fox News Channel
WASHINGTON – Say what you will about Rep. Michele Bachmann, and there is a lot to say, but if Sarah Palin knew how to thread the political needle as well as Bachmann she wouldn’t have been upstaged by Donald Trump, who is now marketing himself “From Donald to Ronald.”
Robert DeNiro is now in Donald Trump’s face, though it won’t make any difference with the people Trump is trying to court. In fact, if Hollywood weighs in against Trump it’s just as likely that birther fans will rally around Mr. Trump.
The whole birther phenomenon is not only about race, though it’s obviously part of it. It’s also rooted in xenophobia, the outsider invading America and ruining our way of life, which is also seen in “illegal alien” rants against Hispanics, though at least they are more likely to be Catholic or Christians rather than — gasp! — having remote contact with a mostly Muslim country. Barack Obama’s non-practicing Muslim father is where this is rooted, but also the exotic port of Indonesia where he and his mother moved when he was very young and where Pres. Obama once lived for a very brief time, with rumors of him practicing Islam proved false long ago.
But birther emails are flying again these days. Here’s just one I’ve gotten recently, which pretty much is the only argument birthers have for their conspiracy theories.
For those who don’t believe Obama, his administration or the officials in Hawaii this comes down to a very simple issue that no amount of verbal protests and name calling can dissipate… Why would anyone withhold an original birth certificate (long form) if by showing it they could make all this go away? Would you? I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute. That is what has become the issue, what motivates Obama to not take such a simple action. Is this just ego? – B. Kelly
MARA LIASSON: Here’s what the facts are. The former director of the Hawaii Department of Public Health says that she, along with the state official in charge of vital records, went and personally inspected Barack Obama’s original birth certificate. This is the long-form birth certificate sometimes described by Hawaiian officials as the record of live birth. It’s in a bound volume in the archives in Honolulu and the former director of public health says everything is in order.
Now, the shorter form, what’s known as the certificate of live birth, which is the computer-generated form that’s been printed on the Internet. This is the form that anyone born in Hawaii gets when they request their birth certificate, and it’s all they can get when they request it. That is also legitimate.
And FactCheck.org and Politifact and a number of independent fact checking groups have also pointed out that there are two contemporaneous birth announcements in newspapers, The Honolulu Advertiser and The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, announcing the birth of Barack Obama on August 4th, 1961.
Taylor Marsh is a Washington based political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.