One thing that cannot be said enough about birtherism, afterbirtherism, and all its myriad forms: it is racist at its core. An argument that Obama cannot be who he is — an intelligent, accomplished, American president — because he is an African-American.
Why does the right push the meme that Obama wasn’t born here? Because to admit that he was born in America is to admit that an African-American man, the son of an American woman and a Kenyan man, born in America, is as American as any other American. Why does the right claim that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father? Because no Black man could possibly have written such an affecting book, because…well, you know. Why does the right still harp on Obama’s use of teleprompters, which have been de rigeur since the Eisenhower Administration? Because obviously Obama isn’t as smart as he so obviously is, because…well, he’s not white, is he?
This is the sick, beating heart at the center of the right’s assault on Obama’s legitimacy. Not their assault on Obama’s policies — though the right is wrong on policy, such disagreements are why we have politics. But their assault on Obama’s very right to serve in the office of president, because that is an office that, though they dare not say it out loud, the believe is reserved for white people.
Let us state this clearly, and let us not shy away from it: those who peddled the birther myth are racists. Those who continue to cling to it, and who cling to all its myriad facets, are racists. Those who have and who continue to insinuate that a man born in America is not a real American are racists.
They are racists. They are racists. They are racists. And if they don’t like being called racists, they should stop being racists. They should be ashamed of their conduct, apologetic for their actions — not “honored” as Donald Trump claimed to be. Their actions bring shame on this country, on Americans as a people, and most certainly, on themselves.
But it does not bring shame upon Barack Obama. As I wrote in 2004, after hearing his address to the Democratic National Convention, his tale is uniquely American. The son of a foreign student and an American woman, born in a nation where Jim Crow still ruled the South, Obama rose to become a state senator, then U.S. senator, and now president. That is the promise of our nation, our country at its very, very best. And the frenetic reaction to his existence by those on the right — that is our country at its very, very worst.
I close, not with my words, but the words of Baratunde Thurston of Jack & Jill Politics, who spoke on his dismay at yesterday’s events.