Thoughts on Obama-Birther Phenomenon

(Posted 07/30/09) - Sometimes reality (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. There are a number of very bitter and fundamentally fearful people in this country (along with a relatively smaller number of opportunists) who have latched on to the idea that Barack Obama and a group of unnamed 'socialists' have high-jacked the presidency.

Many of these anti-Obamaists have focused on the seemingly arcane argument that he is not a natural born citizen of the USA and therefore should not be allowed to continue in the office of President of the United States (POTUS).

OK, I'm not going to slice and dice too far here. The main arguments I've heard fall into two categories.

(1) His father was a non-citizen therefor Barack is not a natural US citizen, even though he was born in Hawaii in 1961. This is on face value non-sense, since a child becomes a US citizen by being born on US soil regardless of the citizenship of his parent(s).

Here is a partial citing of the relevant (and last) Supreme Court finding which defined a natural born citizen (a term used but nowhere defined in the US Constitution):

United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

In this case, the majority of the Court held that a child born in U.S. territory to parents who were subjects of the emperor of China and who were not eligible for U.S. citizenship, but who had “a permanent domicile and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the emperor of China” was a U.S. Citizen.

The Court stated that:

The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words [citizen and natural born citizen], either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'[18]

Since there was no definition of "natural born citizen" found in the constitution, the majority adopted the common law of England that was a carry over from feudal times.

The court ruled:

It thus clearly appears that by the law of England for the last three centuries, beginning before the settlement of this country, and continuing to the present day, aliens, while residing in the dominions possessed by the crown of England, were within the allegiance, the obedience, the faith or loyalty, the protection, the power, and the jurisdiction of the English sovereign; and therefore every child born in England of alien parents was a natural-born subject, unless the child of an ambassador or other diplomatic agent of a foreign state, or of an alien enemy in hostile occupation of the place where the child was born. III. The same rule was in force in all the English colonies upon this continent down to the time of the Declaration of Independence, and in the United States afterwards, and continued to prevail under the constitution as originally established.

(2) Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and the Certificate of Live Birth (COLB) saying he was is in fact a fraud.

Now we get into the meat of the "birther" reality. These folks would rather that the information provided by the Hawaiian DOH (and certified to by independent online reporting research groups like ) be part of a vast socialist / left-wing extremist conspiracy than let go of their delusions.

Their common cry of "Show us your Long Form Birth Certificate, for that cannot be forged" is at its heart a false claim. One can forge any document ... validation derives from our belief in the institutions that maintain and issue documents.

The unstated implication is that the elected and employed officials of the Hawaiian Department of Health (DOH) who have certified that their records indicate Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 are either co-conspirators or dupes; and that the on-line record (a COLB) provided as per Hawaiian law is not sufficient.

Birthers argue that the original hospital record, the Long Form Birth Certificate (LFBC) must be made available to the public for scrutiny. But the state maintained COLB is prepared by a data-clerk from the original LFBC! So what the birthers are really saying is that the state's records have been tampered with by some unknown persons. They have provided nothing to substantiate this belief however.

If a LFBC were to be provided from the hospital records the birthers would just say, "another falsified document." There is no way to satisfy someone who has lost faith in the institutions that maintain and issue legal documents.

These are crazy people and it makes perfect sense for the Obama administration to say we have met all legal requirements for identifying Barack's citizenship. Further engagement feeds the pack-frenzy of these people.

The small percentage of opportunists who manipulate the crazies for personal gain / perceived political advantage are not assuageable either, they know their audience, they have books to sell, and web-sites to promote, and speaking appearances for which they must shill their toxic conspiracy theories.