Rita despairs at a crazy new variant on one of the internet’s most persistent conspiracy theories…
Born, in the United States of America in the eighth year of the 21st century, of the marriage of Ignorance and Racism: the Notion that the duly elected President is not American-born, and is therefore ineligible for the office which he now holds. Officiating at the birth were the Doctors of Cynicism and the Midwives of Political Opportunism, ably assisted by the Journalistic Establishment of the United States. Puny at birth, the Notion soon grew fat and strong on the poisonous milk of Fear and Hatred. This child’s birth certificate is not in doubt. It is embossed with the unmistakable seal of the Nation’s Founding Flaw, the contradiction between the ideal of Freedom and the reality of Slavery. No shining star or herald angels announced this birth, only the pale glow of electronic screens dispensing Rumor and Innuendo. No Wise Men appeared.
I wrote this announcement some time ago when Birtherism was having one of its periodic outbursts, this time under the flag of Donald Trump. But then the White House obtained special permission from the State of Hawaii to release President Obama’s long form birth certificate. (His regular birth certificate, the same as anyone else’s born in Hawaii, was long a matter of public record whose authenticity was confirmed by the Governor of Hawaii, a Republican). The long form birth certificate seemed to deal Birtherism a fatal blow, so I put my piece aside figuring it was no longer relevant. Why I was so naive, after seeing years of Kennedy assassination, 9/11, and a long list of other conspiracy theories thrive despite all contrary evidence, I just don’t know. Perhaps one last little shred of faith in reason winning out over craziness lingered in my brain just waiting to be extinguished. Let the record show it is well and truly extinguished, for the Notion of Birtherism is no longer a babe, but a restless, unruly teen raring to act out its every mad impulse throughout the 2012 election season.
While my attention was elsewhere, Birtherism was quietly mutating and spreading across the “internets” to emerge in an even more virulent form. What was the one thing missing so far from the Birther conspiracy theories? Murder. Why, even the Clinton conspiracy had a good murder accusation in it. Remember that Hillary Clinton was supposed to have murdered Vincent Foster? Well now Birtherism has its own murder theory and it involves the Clintons, so it’s even more likely to catch on with the ignorati. Take a deep breath and ponder this: during the 2008 campaign Obama threatened to murder Chelsea Clinton unless Bill and Hillary stayed silent about the proof they had that Obama was born in Kenya. This according to a virtual cesspool known as “Godfather Politics” and spewed into the mainstream by a Fox News tweet.
If we’ve reached accusations of murder before the campaign is really underway, where will we be by Election Day? 2008’s cries of “Socialist” and “Nazi” seem almost benign by comparison. As I type this I am sipping tea from my anti-Birther mug, purchased from the Obama campaign website for a small donation. It has a picture of the President on one side above the slogan Made in the USA, and on the other a photo of the long form birth certificate. Perhaps humor is the only way to respond to the madness. But if you peer into the cesspool you see such an ugly reflection of humanity that it is easy to despair. I am afraid that if this Notion will not die, the Nation cannot truly live.
Rita Byrne Tull is an ex-pat librarian who lives in Maryland.