Friday, May 18, 2012

more birther madness

Birtherism refuses to die! The Arizona secretary of state is trying to get "verification" from the state of Hawaii that Obama was actually born there. So nice of him to check on that. Why hasn't anybody done that before? Meanwhile, Sean Hannity (on whose show Mitt Romney has been a guest frequently) has now said he "can't tell" if Obama's birth certificate is real. And today the Drudgereport gave a big link to a new breitbart story that reveals -- gasp! -- the phrase "Obama was born in Kenya" has been written before!

Ahh, Sean...I sympathize. For people who let partisanship or racial hatred make them stupid, it really is hard to tell what is true. In any case, this birther phenomenon has proved to be so long-running and popular that I've developed a whole taxonomy for these folks. There are three main types of birthers.

1) The racists. These are the most important ones. A relatively small but influential group, they started the lies and now keep a steady stream of false information flowing to the second kind of birthers.

2) The partisans. These are the enablers. They know birtherism is stupid, but they don't mind giving a wink and a nod to racism, and don't want to offend the racists because they're on the same Republican team. This group includes most of the Republican leadership, who have never to this day condemned birtherism, relying instead on the cowardly formulation, "I take the president at his word..." The partisans tend not to be racist themselves, but are in denial about the fact that they think racism is so trivial they are happy to include it in their political coalition.

3) The gullible. These are the birthers you should feel compassion for. It may be your grandparents sitting in front of Fox News all day in their old age, or the friend who lost his job and needs someone to blame. They're preyed upon by the racists and partisans because, even if they're completely ignorant, they can still cut a check or come out and vote.

Suffice it to say, birtherism obviously would not exist without all the racists driving it on. But in modern day America, where racism is supposed to have been defeated, calling the birthers what they are is considered bad taste. It won't be another week before Sean Hannity is complaining again about being called racist. But you don't get to flirt with birtherism and then be outraged when people draw the obvious conclusion.

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