Birth of a Notion

Rita despairs at a crazy new variant on one of the internet’s most persistent conspiracy theories…

Birth Announcement
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.

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Rita Byrne Tull is an ex-pat librarian who lives in Maryland.

23 thoughts on “Birth of a Notion

    April 11, 2012 at 08:45

    Well said.

    Not only the Hillary campaign, but the McCain campaign and the Bush Administration looked into the crazy reports that Obama was born outside of the USA–and they all found that there was nothing to the claims.

    If there is anyone reading who still believes that Obama COULD have been born somewhere else than in Hawaii, here is a question for you:

    I’ll bet that you know (but, actually, you may have forgotten) that the US government requires, and has long required, that a child being carried into the USA must have some kind of official travel document to be admitted. This is usually a US passport for the child. Or, it could be the fact that the child is entered on the mother’s US passport. Or, it could be a US visa for the child on a foreign passport. Without one of those, we would not let the child into the country.

    So, IF Obama really had been born in Kenya (or in any country other than the USA), he would have had to have one of those documents–wouldn’t he? His family would have had to show the passport, wouldn’t they? To show the passport, they would have had to have applied for the passport or the visa for Obama. And, if Obama really were born in Kenya (or another country), they would have had to have applied for it in the US consulate or embassy there, wouldn’t they?

    Such applications are FILED by the US government. The documents exist in multiple files, the actual application itself, communication about it with Washington, entries in the passport file, entries in the application file, entries in the places where the child is carried into the USA. The Bush Administration was in charge of the State Department and the INS for eight years before Obama was elected. Don’t you think that they would have checked the claim that he was born outside the USA?

    All they had to do was find one of those files and McCain would win the election.

    Well, they never did. There is no such file.

    So the question is, do you think that the Bush Administration was part of the plot?

    Do you think that the files, the documents, the application for the documents, the communications about the documents were all lost or hidden? Remember, they are in multiple files, the file of the passport holder, the files of applications for passports, the files in the US embassy in foreign countries, the files in the State Department and in the INS (which would have checked in Obama at an entry point if he had actually traveled in 1961)–and yet no document has been found. Why not?

    The absence of the travel document, plus the Hawaii birth certificate, plus the confirmation of the facts on it by three Republican (and several Democrat) officials, plus the birth notices in the Hawaii newspapers in 1961, plus the witness who remembers being told of the birth and writing home about it (to her father, named Stanley, about the unusual event of a birth to a woman named Stanley). All this is evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii. Oh, and by the way, Obama’s Kenyan grandmother NEVER said that Obama was born in Kenya. That was the first of the birther lies. She said repeatedly in the taped interview that he was born in Hawaii. And she said in another interview, with the Hartford Courtant newspaper, that the first that her family had heard of Obama’s birth was IN A LETTER FROM HAWAII.

  2. Worm
    April 11, 2012 at 09:08

    Rita, your post made me wonder whether there has ever been a British Prime Minister born overseas – and it turns out that there has been – Bonar Law, who was born in Canada

    Surely it must be time soon for the USA to relax the ‘must be born in the USA rule’ for presidents? Seems like a mighty anachronism in this globalised day and age. Or do most countries still adhere to a variation on this rule?

    April 11, 2012 at 09:17

    Re: “‘must be born in the USA rule’ for presidents? Seems like a mighty anachronism in this globalised day and age. Or do most countries still adhere to a variation on this rule?”

    I agree with you, but the requirement of changing the Constitution is that two thirds of both houses of Congress must pass the resolution, and then it has to be approved by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states. Too tough to do. Still, you are right. Back in the 1950s it was pointed out that Irving Berlin, the author of God Bless America, would not have been eligible to be president.

      April 11, 2012 at 18:25

      You people are complete morons. The chasm between the eligibility of someone to live and work inside a country, write songs about it, or to command its armed forces is so vast, any rational person wouldn’t think twice about such higher requirements.

      Why not let a German be PM of the U.K. I suppose history wouldn’t have been any different if a German had held such a post around the year 1939?

      Please read, or reread some history, specifically that which pertains to how ruling families place puppet leaders on foreign thrones to control said country.

      • Worm
        April 11, 2012 at 19:19

        From your comment Bob, I would deduce that what you mean is that should Barack Obama turn out to have been born in Kenya, we should be aware that he was possibly placed as a plant inside US territory as a baby.. and is now ruling the USA as a puppet on the behalf of the Kenyan royal family?…

        April 11, 2012 at 20:25

        Why not let a German be PM of the U.K. I suppose history wouldn’t have been any different if a German had held such a post around the year 1939?

        Well we did have Germans on the royal throne.

        Perhaps they were planted there. I sense a conspiracy. Let me just go and reread some history and I’ll get back to you…

          April 12, 2012 at 16:12

          Battenberg’s, we need more of ’em, delicious with a cup of Lady Grey. Tend to breed like rabbits, after a quick name change and why not, for over a decade we had some bloke from the beneath the Forth rail bridge running the joint, foreign bleedin’ Johnnie.

            April 12, 2012 at 17:42

            Then there was that other non-dom, Lloyd George, from the other side of Offa’s dyke, would stick your name on the honours list for ten bob.
            Just in case you misconstrue, Bob, Offa’s dyke is a ditch, not a burd.

    April 11, 2012 at 09:34

    I wish they would change the born in the USA rule. I often dream about walking into a room to the sound of Hail to the Chief.

    April 11, 2012 at 09:55

    So worried about this issue are the BBC movers and shakers they have sent to the deep south, ignoring their own health and safety rules, our national treasure Sir Trevor. Ostensibly to do a documentary on the Mississippi river.

    But we know, don’t we.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:23

    “I am afraid that if this Notion will not die, the Nation cannot truly live.”

    Chin up! It ceases to be a question of interest in January 2017, or perhaps as early as November of this year. When was the last time you heard a discussion of GW Bush’s attendance at Air National Guard weekends?

    “Perhaps one last little shred of faith in reason winning out over craziness lingered in my brain just waiting to be extinguished.”

    Suppose 5 million people believe this–that’s plenty to make noise, but not 2% of the population. Time to relight that shred, I say.

    As for those who think that the “natural born citizen” rule should be overturned, I would remind them of a recent, and for a while very popular governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. While his candidacy might have made for a very entertaining primary system until it wrecked on the same problems of impulse control that have done in Newt Gingrich, I can’t believe that it would have been good for the public. Then there’s the owning family of the News Corporation.

    • Worm
      April 11, 2012 at 12:50

      but rather than preventing undesirables from gaining office (there is no logical argument to state that any ‘foreigner’ is in any way better or worse at governing or corruption than an american would be) surely it primarily excludes otherwise talented people from having a go in the first place

      • Gaw
        April 11, 2012 at 13:03

        Of course, worm’s real motive is to restore the monarchy – just about the only thing that could save the US from its periodic fits of hysteric irrationality.

          April 11, 2012 at 16:03

          Yes, Perkin Warbeck was saying that to me just the other day.

          I must say that a couple of years ago I started laughing at the young’s woman’s remark in Rob Roy, “Terrible things, these warming pans; and how fortunate that you don’t seem to need one at the moment.” I don’t suppose that one Birther in a hundred (and I count them at a damn sight fewer than some do) has ever made the association with James III and The Glorious Revolution.

          As to Worm’s point, yes, it excludes the talented among naturalized citizens–for surely the point is not that non-citizens should be eligible–from an already exclusive competition. Given the apparent prerequisites for election, namely either high elective office or high command in a major war (Taylor, Grant, Eisenhower), I’m not sure that anyone since maybe Albert Gallatin has really been excluded.

  7. Frank Key
    April 11, 2012 at 15:08

    ” 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,”

    Why indeed? “Contrary evidence” is utterly irrelevant to any good conspiracy theory. The theorist simply hits back with accusations of an ever more convoluted cover-up. Like the poor, crackpots and monomaniacs are always with us, and nowadays they use the interweb rather than handing out poorly mimeographed pamphlets outside railway stations. I expect in 2062 someone will publish the “definitive proof” that Obama was born outside the US, and plotted to kill Chelsea Clinton.

    Over here, out of the blue, the Hilda Murrell murder “mystery” has been revived after a quarter of a century. This in spite of overwhelming evidence that she was killed by a lowlife in a bungled burglary. That the true culprit was “Thatcher” and the forces of the secret state is too attractive for the nutters to let it lie.

    And of course the true story of the sinking of the Titanic has not yet been revealed….

    April 11, 2012 at 17:03

    The Born in the USA rule is going to have go. Not just did it keep The Gubernator from his rightful place at the nations head but its ruled out Superman almost since comics started doing ‘what if ? ‘ stories.

      April 11, 2012 at 20:28

      Yes the Born in the USA rule does seem strangely un-American. After all, you can’t get much more American than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      Anyone got a good argument for it?

        Hey Skipper
        April 12, 2012 at 00:15

        My argument for it is largely negative: it isn’t worth the bother of amending the constitution to make it happen. Particularly when you reflect on the fact that the amendment would affect — at most — 25 people in a century.

        As for this whole birther thing. Being American, and living in America, I happen to know a fair number of Americans. Not one of my acquaintance gives this schlamozzle the tiniest bit of credence. Just because there is a tempest on the webz doesn’t mean there is one in real life.

          April 12, 2012 at 15:21

          I agree, but of course it is wrong in principle.

          A more glaring Constitutional error is that the residents of Washington DC (about a million people i believe) do not have voting representatives in either house of the US Congress.

          They can vote for president, and that took a Constitutional Amendment, but they do not have the normal legislative representation.

          It is usually Republicans who oppose giving DC Congressional representation. They are wrong in principle however, and it is a very sad thing.

          Rita Byrne Tull
          April 13, 2012 at 18:51

          I don’t personally know anyone who believes it either, but a 2011 survey taken after Obama released the long form birth certificate found the following:
          “When asked, 47% of GOPers said they believed Obama “was born in another country” 22% “said they did not know where he was born” and only 32% said they believed he was born in the U.S.”
          I predict we will hear much more of this in the campaign.

    John Halliwell
    April 13, 2012 at 14:01

    Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) born Ontario in 1879, didn’t arrive in Britain until 1910, having left Canada, allegedly, under a bit of a cloud due to business irregularities. Did that worry us? Of course not. As Max arrived we dispatched, via the hangman’s rope, another North American who Britannia had earlier clasped to her bosom: Dr Crippen from Michigan. During the Second World War, Churchill appointed him (Beaverbrook not Crippen) Minister of Aircraft Production, then Minister of Supply. Now, if Churchill, Eden, Bevin, Attlee et al had been bumped off in a Nazi bomb plot, Max might have become Prime Minister, even though he spoke with the broadest of Canadian accents and thought Stalin was a decent chap. And that is the closest I can get to a German sat in Number 10 in 1939. Pretty hopeless, isn’t it? But doesn’t it show how open-minded we are to foreign involvement and influence? Just look at the England Test team. Within ten years the team’s official language will be Afrikaans.

    • Gaw
      April 18, 2012 at 07:23

      There was talk of Smuts becoming PM in both First and Second World Wars. As a Boer he was even closer to being a German having been on the other side in the last war (and last war but one).

    Lord Essex
    April 18, 2012 at 05:00

    “Imagine there’s no countries”-John Lennon

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