I just had to take a break from planning the trajectory of my post-graduate life to write about this issue that has everyone abuzz: the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s United States citizenship. Here’s my little 2 cents on the matter:
For nearly 3 years now, there have been many conspiracy theories about whether the President is actually an American citizen. If you recall, the controversy was first started around the time of the 2008 campaign, and some even called into question Republican candidate John McCain’s own citizenship since he was technically born in the Panama Canal Zone, but since it was occupied by the U.S
and since he was a white man and a veteran Congress quelled the argument and deemed him elegible to run for President. Many scholars and experts had to really examine the wording of the Constitution, and realized that in McCain’s case, the issue of being “natural born” turned out to have many shades of gray.
In June of 2008, Obama released his certificate of live birth in Hawaii
(which became a state in 1959, therefore undoubtedly American territory), complete with verified signatures, a raised seal, support from both Republican and Democratic leaders, and legitimization from the Hawaii Department of Health. But alas, that wasn’t enough for those who really believed that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and/or the certificate was forged.
So once again, the “Birthers,” as they have been referred to colloquially, have caused quite a stir as the campaign for 2012 begins. Perhaps their most notable spokesperson is businessman and
Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump who is keeping America on-edge about whether he is going to be running as a Republican candidate for the 2012 Presidential election and who is best known for bad hair and numerous bankruptcies. He has basically been on the press circuit asking what the big deal is all about and why can’t the President just show us his “real” freedom papers?
Today, the President held a brief press conference about this issue and released the long-form of his birth certificate, which was verified – again. In the press conference he stated:
“I have watched with amusement and have been puzzled at how things kept on going…we’ve got enormous challenges … we are not going to be able to get things done if we’re distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”
First of all, let’s just call a spade a spade. I think that this whole “Birther” scandal is just another codeword for race/racism. Despite what some say, just because our President is Black does not mean we are in post-racial America. Bottom line, I don’t believe that the President should have had to do this. I know that he’s trying to make nice despite what his detractors and doubters say, but do you honestly think they would have let the first Black President even have a shot at candidacy before double and triple checking his citizenship? I’m inclined to believe not. With all of the controversy surrounding this man’s place of birth, I can’t help but think about the immigration issues that are going on down in Arizona. I’m hard pressed to believe that we are not the 1800s. Should everyone that’s black or brown carry around proof of their citizenship or their freedom papers?
Secondly, there’s a larger, more disturbing issue going on here. I believe that this idea of the “Birther” movement implies that no matter what he does, President Barack Obama will never be able to prove that he’s American enough for some. From the man’s place of birth to questions surrounding his religious beliefs
to referring to as Michelle his “baby mama” and deriding his children for their hair styles and clothing choices, the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Although this is a free country, you wouldn’t know it from the way we treat some of our citizens. From the time Barack Obama stepped onto the scene as a viable contender until now, I believe that our President has been treated like some sort of second-class, pseudo-citizen. It’s disrespectful. And, there’s no way in the world someone else of a lighter hue would have had to jump through all of these hoops to prove himself.
Finally, the fact that this is even getting picked up and egged on by major news networks is telling of what we as Americans prioritize as “newsworthy.” This whole “bread and games” form of distraction is keeping us from tackling more important and dire issues like: the abysmal state of the economy and the 2 (or 3 – if you count Libya) wars we’re involved in. We have bigger fish to fry as a country than figuring out if our President is American enough for the doubters. He’s got the job already, so the “Birthers” lost from the outset.
Let me know what you think: should the President have released the long form birth certificate at all? Should he have done it sooner?