Inquirer Editorial: 'Birthers' can shut up

President Obama said the nation must not "get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."
President Obama said the nation must not "get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers." (OLIVIER DOULIERY / Abaca Press)
Posted: April 28, 2011

President Obama had little choice in releasing his long-form birth certificate, although it's unlikely to satisfy the obsessed conspiracy crowd.

The insane conversation over Obama's place of birth was growing louder, fueled irresponsibly by Donald Trump, of all people. As if to heighten the absurdity, Trump took "credit" Wednesday for forcing the president to release the document.

Said Obama, "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do."

The state of Hawaii doesn't usually release the long form of a person's birth certificate. Hawaii provides a shorter form, as it did for Obama earlier, which satisfies legal requirements about proof of birthplace.

But last Friday, Obama requested that an exception be made to release the long form as well. That he felt compelled to quell the paranoid among us must be counted as a low point in our national discourse.

The "birther" conversation is a return to the days of the "Know-Nothing" party - nativists who prided themselves on whipping up fears that the country was being overrun by German and Irish Catholic immigrants. Such prejudice, in its current sick form, presumes Obama to be a foreign Muslim sleeper-agent bent on the destruction of the United States.

And if we took that crazy premise to its illogical conclusion, what's Obama waiting for? He's had more than two years to disband the standing army, dismantle America's nuclear arsenal, and order the Coast Guard to stand down.

Surely a man able to fake his birth, and wily enough to bide his time for years as a community organizer in Chicago before running for president, would be cunning enough to topple the government by now. Why haven't the mujahedeen arrived already?

For the record, the long-form birth certificate proves what rational people already accepted: Barack Hussein Obama is a U.S. citizen. He was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father was a citizen of Kenya; his 18-year-old mother was a U.S. citizen.

Hawaii, by the way, gained statehood Aug. 21, 1959.

The truly sad part of this episode is that Obama is trying to reason with the unreasonable. The people who despise him won't be satisfied with a true copy of his long-form birth certificate. Perhaps they will now demand carbon-dating be conducted on the original.

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney noted that the issue was being raised increasingly in the mainstream media, probably due to Trump's calculated histrionics.

"This is not a discussion happening just among conspiracy theorists," Carney said. "It is happening . . . on all of the networks, and it is something that every major political figure of both parties - instead of talking about real issues - is being asked about this. So the president decided to release this."

Obama has made a startling concession to the forces of fear and ignorance. It should not have been necessary. But the move was within his control, and the lunacy would only have grown louder had he not taken this step.

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