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August 3, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Same old racism

American Politics

Last month, a woman stood up in a town hall meeting in Delaware holding a zip-lock bagged copy of her birth certificate. She then demanded her congressman, Mike Castle (R), why President Obama hadn’t produced a certified copy of his birth certificate. She then rallied the room to their feet, where they all pronounced the Pledge of Allegiance, putting particular gusto on the phrase “one nation under God”. This began what is now called the “birther” movement.

Their claim—that Barack Obama is not really the President because he wasn’t born in the United States—has been investigated and debunked by multiple parties on multiple occasions. The Washington Independent recently had to report that these rumors were put to rest in 2008 during the run up to the election by John McCain’s (R-AZ) own presidential campaign.

In a White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the rumors “made-up, fictional nonsense”. I daresay most Americans are of the same opinion. Still, the ‘birthers’ remain unsatisfied, incited by blatantly racist right-wing radio broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh—of “Barack the Magic Negro” fame—and Glenn Beck.

The major news broadcasters are just as guilty. Lou Dobbs, CNN news anchor and managing editor of the nightly Lou Dobbs Tonight show, gave the ‘birther’ story so much airtime the President of CNN had to intimate that he personally believed that the story was “dead” to discredit Dobbs’ reporting. (As managing editor, Dobbs would have total content control of his show.)

Lou has had problems with race before; He said Mexicans would bring horrible infectious diseases—like leprosy— to America. The silence of other networks makes them equally complacent in the rumor’s perpetuation.

Now, who are these ‘birthers’? More importantly, what does this mean? Republican congressmen have told Politico that they’re afraid of returning to their districts where they’ll come under pressure from “birthers”.

With only 23 percent of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans, Republican congressmen are finding it hard and harder not to alienate their lunatic fringe by confronting them with facts. The cream certainly rises to the top when you’re down to 23 percent, doesn’t it? These were the same people shouting “terrorist” and “kill him” at Sarah Palin rallies.

The ‘birthers’ are a product of the Republicans’ own political agenda, born from the campaigning strategies they used during the entire election cycle. He’s a muslim, a terrorist, a Kenyan, a Marxist; he’s always the other. Of course he’s not American.

Republicans need to realise who they are representing and, by proxy, what they represent. Our broadcast media—instead of balancing the news by giving each side equal credence along political lines—should deal with facts and champion their dissemination. There needs to be a dialogue about race in America. It is impossible to move forward if racism and bigotry remain a political platform.


About the Author ()

Andrew Mendes is an American studying International Relations and Public Policy at Victoria. He enjoys following politics and reading lots of news.

Comments (1)

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  1. Ignorance is bliss. I bet not one birther could locate Yemen on
    a map. They are people who don’t the difference between Iran and Iraq. Most, could not pass a fourth grade U.S. history class. Fight racism! ***#@!

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