In the spirit of my own growing intolerance for shoddy and biased reportage and online bullshit and self-aggrandizement, I’ve decided to start deleting from the roster of my Facebook “friends” those who consistently post blatantly racist (and/or sexist) material.
Glancing at the feed of posts by these friends yesterday, I came across several posts by so-called birthers, questioning the legitimacy of Barrack Obama’s citizenship and, therefore, his presidency with arguments about his birthplace. This “controversy” makes me see red–as in red state; the only thing illegitimate going on is its inclusion in the public debate.
You can argue with birthers until the color of your own skin changes and you’re blue in the face, but trying to inject reality into the argument has proven to be a waste of breath. The releasing of the president’s birth certificate should have been proof enough to make this go away, but that fact that it’s still being raised leads me to believe that birthers just don’t want to believe he’s a citizen and has a right to the job to which he was legally and legitimately elected.
That this argument is mostly accompanied by some variation of the disclaimer “I’m not a racist, but….” shouldn’t be a surprise, nor does it exempt the disclaimee from the taint of racism, no matter how unconscious those motives may be. For all the poundings previous presidents have taken — including the disputed elections of Hayes/Tilden in 1876 and Bush/Gore in 2000 — the hue and cry over their legitimacy to hold the office were never this loud, this sustained, this vicious. Are we supposed to believe that the level of vitriol and effort being heaped upon a president over an issue that has been repeatedly disproved is just coincidental to his being the first African-American to hold the office?
The first instinct is to rebut the birthers, but if proof hasn’t convinced them, reason isn’t going to alter their views either. This faction believes what it wants to believe; trying to engage them in reasonable argument only lends credence to the irrationality that passes for their politic discourse. The magical thinking that allows listeners of Limbaugh and Beck to believe that to repeat a lie enough times makes the lie real is immune to reason.
Look, believe what you want to believe. Vote for who you want to vote. I’ve got a passel of issues with President Obama myself (less than I’ve got with Mitt Romney, but plenty), but mine are based on the things he’s done or failed to do while in office, not on some bogus issue about his place of birth or the color of his skin.
You can’t argue with irrationality so I won’t try. Instead, I’ll just brush them off my wall. Sure, the birthers will still be out there, but I don’t have to listen to them.