Birtherism is Racism

Birtherism is Racism

Birtherism is racism.

I cannot speak to the experience of African-Americans in this country. I have no reference point. And I am not one prone to cry "racism" when it suits my needs or to make a political point. But I do know that at its rotten core, birtherism is racism and nothing can cover that up.

For the birthers, obsessed with President Barack Obama's birth certificate and convinced that what's been officially produced is a fraud, a black man cannot be legitimate in this country unless he has a brand on his skin or a bill of sale. That's what the clamor for his "true" birth certificate is: they want to see his bill of sale. Who does he think he is? Doesn't he know his place?

Birthers are lying to themselves if they claim they just want the Constitution upheld. No, this birth certificate issue has transcended bad taste politics into outright obscenity: it is racism through and through. No other president in the history of America has had his very existence questioned like this. A black man is not a legitimate president for these deeply racist people: he has no note of manumission, so he cannot be like one of us. He is not a real person, not a real man.

Is it a coincidence that a spate of vicious, un-Christian "show your papers" laws flooded Republican majority-ruled statehouses during all this time? The birther obscenity has emboldened racism under the veneer of legitimacy, much like the word "antisemitic" was coined to replace the more accurate but crude "Judenhaus." It looks respectable, sounds more scientific. By insisting that all we're talking about is upholding the requirements of the Constitution, well, who can disagree with that? Who can question that noble enterprise?

Except this is not a noble enterprise, this is not about the Constitution, this is racism. A black man is not truly free in American society: he is suspect, literally and figuratively. On the left, striving to put Obama in office would right all the discriminatory sins of the past: slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow laws. Obama became an impossible ideal, one bound to disappoint. For the right, he was an uppity nigger--yes, I use that word with all the contempt it deserves because that is what we are talking about here!--a usurper, a pretender, a fraud with the most noxious and evil plans that have ever been hatched. "We want our country back!" suddenly became the cri du coeur. Take it back from whom? From what? From the illegitimate black man with no bill of sale, no brand from a master, no note of release. You cannot be is their rant. To deny a birth certificate is to deny existence.

The right has tried very hard to excuse the outright, damnable racism of the birthers, but they are so steeped in poison that only the Psalmist can convey the scope of their moral offense: "Behold, the wicked man conceives evil, and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies." But why bother with religion? Not one cleric in this country has risen up in righteous anger against the birther obscenity, but leaders of the Catholic Church have been very quick of late to screech about contraception and the "attack" on their religious liberty. The birther obsession has gone far beyond a political gimmick or fringe issue and become a cancer, whose very presence has now infected mainstream politicians' feeble minds to the point that barely any of these cowards can forcefully deny this outrage without some pathetic "I take him at his word," which is as limp-wristed a defense as they come.

The right likes to bleat about its moral superiority and hates to be expected to live up to it. The GOP has let this obscene demand from the birthers go on too long. What will happen next when a Latino runs for president? (One who isn't Cuban). As we have seen, demands for Barack Obama's birth certificate comes hand in hand with angry legislation aimed at Latinos to question their citizenship status. Prove who you are or be prepared to get thrown out. Give me your birth certificate or you need to leave office. Two sides, one coin.

Where are you, conservative leaders? This disgusting, abominable bigotry is on your hands and you've done nothing to eliminate it. Do not come back with how "Democrats do it, too!" because you already claim liberals have no moral compass, anything goes with them. You have failed to curb this disease, you've done nothing to push back against it but revel in the potential votes it can get you: witness the moral fraud that is Mitt Romney, who claims his religious beliefs are very important to him but aligns himself openly with the odious scum Donald Trump. You are all abetting this despicable lie and nodding your heads in quiet assent: racism is good for our party.

Birtherism is racism, and it's festering. How long before it's too late?