Thursday, April 28, 2011

On "birthers" and racism

Well, we have yet more evidence that Barack Obama was born in the United States. It is striking that a small minority has made so much about this issue and received much press coverage. Normally, issues with substance enjoy such publicity. However, there is something different about Obama which may fuel issues like this. It is not the fact that he lived elsewhere earlier in his life. Indeed, there have been many US Presidents (and serious presidential candidates) who have travelled abroad. Nor is it the fact that he would never have been able to run in the first place if he did not meet the relevant criteria. Nor is it the fact that we have learned nothing new at all from this: there has always been clear evidence that Obama is a US citizen since birth.

The one thing different about Obama is his race. Is it not particularly striking that no other US President has come under such scrutiny? The birther challenge is not merely that he should not hold office (despite winning the popular vote and electoral college), but that he has no right even to citizenship -- he is not "one of us".

This is dangerous political rhetoric. I expect it may only get worse.

1 comment:

nate stout said...

I agree wholeheartedly that this is a racial issue. I think the reason that the American media is shying away from this is that the conservative media in the US has effectively marginalized the language of race. Whenever there are calls for political correctness or racial sensitivity, these are seen as hollow, empty phrases because conservative pundits have repeatedly dismissed them. It's a sad development in my opinion.