Birtherism isn't just about the birth certificate

Birtherism isn't just about the birth certificate

At long last, in a one sentence statement, Donald Trump said he believes that Barack Obama was born in the United States. By this act, he feels he has put the issue behind him.

Of course, there are a few problems. One of them is that he now blames Hillary Clinton for starting the controversy in the first place during the 2008 primaries. That, of course, is a lie. However, Trump is of the "repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth" school of life.

Another problem is the trail of birther tweets which Trump has issued ever since Pres. Obama released his longform birth certificate. Up until this morning Trump had given no indication that the form's release put the matter to rest. In fact, several tweets showed that he thought the form to be a fake. One curt sentence is not going to dispel five years of outright scorn.

However, the greatest problem is that birtherism isn't just about the birth certificate. It isn't even mostly about it. That was shown by the fact that birtherism continued unabated even after the President released his birth certificate.

Birtherism is nothing other than racism. It is an Othering of the first black President. It is a conscious attempt to deligitimize him, so that he becomes this cipher in American history. It's to question and negate his place in the American community. It is quite simply an attempt to deny that he has any right to the office he won.

Trump didn't apologize for those aspects of birtherism. By focusing on the narrow fact of Pres. Obama's place of birth, he hopes he doesn't have to deal with all the attendant, and more important, aspects of birtherism, which he has stoked for five years unabated. He feels that by merely saying "Obama was born in the US" he can escape all the vitriol which supported birtherism. From a cursory reading of Twitter this morning, it seems he has miscalculated. The press is having none of it.

Of course, this is the same press which gave him airtime to begin with in his foray into conspiracy theory. If the press had done its job and dismissed birthers as tin-foil hat wearing lunatics, we wouldn't have Donald Trump a heartbeat away from the White House. Any respectable media would have scoffed at the ideas surrounding birtherism. But, no. They treated it as another controversy to report, ramping up the pressure, wondering why Pres. Obama didn't just release his birth certificate, something never asked of any of the previous 43 presidents. The media ignored the crass racism behind birtherism and merely reported on it as if it were a valid story. If Donald Trump makes it to the White House, it will be largely due to media malfeasance. 

The media can now redeem itself. It can report on birtherism's true parameters: it was never about the birth certificate, but about the black guy in the White House. And from there address all of Donald Trump's other lies, and call them lies. One can only hope it isn't too late.



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