Opinion

Commentary: The 'birthers' lie won't die

Bob Ray Sanders is a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Bob Ray Sanders is a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. MCT

It is not often I think of birth and death at the same time, but I did last week because of the extensive and sometimes outrageous media coverage about one person's place of birth. I also longed for an end to the lies and invectives that have commanded so much attention.

A lie, unfortunately, usually dies a slow death, particularly when you have a large number of people who really prefer prevarication to the truth.

For more than two years, "cells" of conspirators have engaged in a not-so-subtle subterfuge to declare the president of the United States a foreign-born alien and thus constitutionally unqualified for office.

They simply could not conceive, and therefore could never accept, that a man like Barack Hussein Obama could or should become this nation's highest officeholder. Regardless of the vote, something had to be wrong.

Those who concocted the idea that he had been born someplace else imply a meticulously planned conspiracy from birth that placed Obama on the road of deception leading to the White House. The defamers dismissed any authentication issued by the state of Hawaii, where Obama was born, and revoked all declarations of federal agencies that confirmed the president's citizenship.

The doubters demanded to see the "long-form" birth certificate, which some insisted didn't exist or, if it did, was a fraud.

Their numbers grew, as did their false documents and statements. Their comrades and disciples bombarded the social, fringe and mainstream media with everything from misrepresented Supreme Court filings to witnesses willing to swear the president was born in Kenya or Indonesia or perhaps even Pakistan.

A few who conceded he was born in Honolulu still didn't consider Hawaii a "real state."

These are the kind of people I've heard from almost daily through phone calls and e-mails.

Obama, weary of the distortion and the distraction, last week released an official "long-form" copy of his "Certificate of Live Birth" after the White House got a special waiver from Hawaii to do so.

It also came after Republican Donald Trump centered his not-yet-announced presidential campaign on the charge that Obama was hiding something by not revealing the document.

This issue has been ridiculous from the start. The disinformation crusade is worse than sad, it's pathetic.

The people who perpetrated the lies and those who helped perpetuate them should have been embarrassed after the unadulterated truth was released. Instead, many tried to justify their claims and deceitful actions. They should be ashamed.

During a television debate last week, WBAP radio talk show host Mark Davis -- one of those who applauded Trump's "taking it to Obama" -- predicted that the "birther" movement would go away. I said it would not.

Before the day was over, Trump and others indicated they still couldn't be certain about the president's birthplace. One congressman said the paper on which the birth certificate was printed didn't look "old enough." Texas Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, said he obtained a copy of a Kenyan birth certificate for Obama.

During the televised debate with Davis, who backs state legislation requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to show proof of birthplace before getting on the ballot, I asked if Davis had seen the birth certificates of Republicans George W. Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney.

He said he did not need to see their birth documentation because there was no doubt about their being U.S. citizens.

This issue has not been about consistency or constitutionality. It's been about Obama, a man they can't stand to see in the White House. And because of that visceral hatred for the president, the lies will not only continue to live, they will flourish.

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