David Remnick is a prestigious journalist who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his book about the last days of the Soviet Empire (which I want to buy and read). I highly doubt that he has any agenda in promoting an inflated view of Obama or to perpetuate invented myths about our first African American president to feed a rabid base of hardcore conservatives. His job as journalist is to get to the truth of Obama's life experiences to present the most accurate portrayal he can of the man who is our 44th president. He has a reputation of being well researched and well written to uphold. So out of all the biographies out there, I figured that his The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama would be the biography to read.
The first thing I looked for when I bought the book was what he wrote about concerning the birth of Barack Obama. I was curious to see if he addressed the "birther" issue at all and if he mentioned that Obama's mother ever traveled to Africa. What I found was not surprising, so I decided to post it on my Facebook page. I did not expect the response I received from one church member, whom I like on a personal basis. I was so stunned by her comment that I wrote a rebuttal, which some might view as harsh, but I was not really directing my comments at her. I know that she is not a racist or ignorant, but many of the people who are going around saying that Obama was born in Kenya actually are. She's choosing to associate with those types of people and for what? Because she doesn't like our president? It was stunning to me because she holds a high priesthood calling in the church I belong to and I keep thinking about the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not bear false witness." This is exactly what people are doing (namely, conservative evangelical Christians) when they keep insisting on seeing Obama's birth certificate and not being satisfied when Obama finally released it last May.
My response was likely too much for this woman, so she defriended me sometime during this week. I guess it is more important for her to go on believing that our president was born in Kenya than it is to be friends with me. This is truly sad and I dare say, "un-Christian." To allow ignorance to end a friendship is wrong. But maybe its for the best. Quite a few times, I've had to reassure her that I don't allow politics or religious differences to affect any of my friendships. Since childhood, I have never based friendships on whether or not someone agrees with me. I have always based friendships on personal interactions. Do I like your personality or not? And I liked her personality. She was larger than life and made me laugh so much at the Bend Institute last year. Its a shame that she can't look past our differences on this.
I also wish she would look more deeply at the issue. When I was in high school, my favourite teacher told his students that whenever you encounter information, it is always important to consider the source. What's the motive behind it? So, when someone goes around saying that our president was born in Kenya, why don't these conservatives stop to think that maybe someone is lying to them. No, they just swallow it like truth, as though they were smarter than the entire security apparatus of the country!!! Does anyone really want to argue that the CIA, FBI, NSA, and Defense Intelligence Agencies all dropped the ball in 2008 and allowed a candidate who did not meet the citizenship requirements to run for president?!? Do these people not understand that in the world's sole superpower, there is simply no way our intelligence agencies would not know every detail about the life of each candidate for president? Do you really think they would allow some foreigner to slip through the cracks? This is why I have a low opinion of "birthers." They are simply stupid beyond words if they believe that Obama was born in Kenya. I mean, we are talking an IQ that is lower than someone with a developmental disability.
Below this excellent cartoon is what I had posted on my Facebook wall on Monday and the response it received. The person's name has been deleted for privacy's sake.
If there are any "birthers" still out there, here's a passage from award-winning Journalist David Remnick's comprehensive biography on Barack Obama, "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama":
"Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was born at 7:24 p.m. on August 4, 1961, at Kapi'olani Medical Center, in Honolulu, not far from Waikiki. On the birth certificate, the mother's race is listed as 'Caucasian,' the father's as 'African'.All caps my emphasis, which indicates why Obama's mom, Stanley Ann Dunham, did not travel to Kenya in her life, thus the birth certificate nonsense only shows how ridiculous birthers are.
"Ann dropped out of school to care for her infant son. She never expected to be in such a traditionally domestic spot so soon: home alone with Barack, Jr., while Barack, Sr., was in classes, studying at the library, out drinking with his friends. Yet her friends don't recall her being resentful or depressed. As a young mother...she was a take-life-as-it-comes optimist. The last thing on her mind was what people might say as they saw her, a white woman, walking down the street holding a black child...
"In June, 1962, Obama, Sr., graduated from the University of Hawaii Phi Beta Kappa. He had a choice between staying in Hawaii for graduate school, going to graduate school at the New School, in New York, on a full scholarship, with a stipend capable of supporting the three of them--or going to Harvard. For him, the choice was easy: 'How can I refuse the best education?'
"Ann Dunham was twenty years old, and a single mother. All the early promises of adventure now seemed unlikely. 'It was sad to me when her marriage disintegrated,' her old friend Susan Botkin said. 'I was so impressed by how relaxed and calm she was when she had Barack--she was excited about going to Africa--and how in love she was, how her husband was going to take a serious role in government. It was a great disappointment to her that Barack, Sr.'s father wrote and said, DON'T BRING YOUR WHITE WIFE AND YOUR HALF-BREED CHILD, THEY WILL NOT BE WELCOME. There were Mau Mau uprisings, they were beheading white women, and doing unspeakable things. Ann's parents were very worried when they heard that." (pp 55-56).
Mikal: What is a "birther"?
Conservative Obama Hater (COH): Oh gees, he wrote it so it must be true?
Me: Mikal - A "Birther" is an ignorant racist who cannot accept that we have a black president so they buy into a vast conspiracy made up of state government employees, a state governor, doctors, a U.S. Congressman, the federal government, the Democratic Party, the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agencies, the National Security Agency, and a foreign government that are keeping a secret regarding the actual birth location of Barack Obama. Because he's black, has a funny name, and was basically forsaken by his own father, he somehow can't be a natural born American citizen.
COH - Please don't tell me that you're a "birther." Oh, and if you don't think a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who wrote the most comprehensive biography of Barack Obama that has gotten critically reviewed in major newspaper, who has made a career out of being a journalist, is "credible", then I really don't know what else there is to say to you. If a reputation based on research, peer review, and the prestige of winning major awards doesn't mean anything, then why bother believing anything? Like a sign I saw said: there are people who believe that their ignorance is every bit as equal to those who have spent time getting educated. I doubt that God would excuse people's ignorance about stuff. Fox News sure has warped people's minds about how to analyze truth and detect propaganda.
Mikal: Thanks! I depend on you to keep me up with the latest political slanguage
Me: Birthers annoy me with their ignorance and blatant disregard for facts and logic. As one who is a natural born citizen, despite my overseas birth and the fact that only one of my parents was a citizen at the time, I still experienced throughout school (particularly in elementary school) the nastiness of other children trying to deny my American birthright. So I understand full well this ignorance and hatred that uneducated conservative people have about anyone with foreign blood. Its the constant demonization of people who don't look like they do, or have an identifiable name, or who weren't born in the 48 continental states.
It amazes me that people are unable to think logically about this issue.
For Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. to have been born in Kenya, it would mean that:
A white lower middle-class family in Hawaii would have to find the money to buy a plane ticket from Honolulu to Nairobi, which was likely not cheap and was a long journey (according to Remnick, in 1961, a flight between mainland U.S. and Hawaii was 15 hours, rather than the 5 hours it is today from Los Angeles). Stanley Ann Dunham (Obama's mother) was a 19 year old college student at the University of Hawaii who met and was taken in by the charms of a foreign exchange student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama. She got pregnant and they reportedly wed in Hawaii. If they were both in Hawaii at the time, why go to Kenya to give birth? Especially since she was her parents only child. Do you think it is logical that this white family would allow their only daughter to go off to far-away Kenya by herself, pregnant, to give birth to their first grandchild in a hospital alone in a developing country where there was a Mau Mau uprising that was killing white people?!? Think, people think!!! It does not make logical sense.
A flight would be quite strenuous, as I'd imagine that a person would have to fly from Honolulu to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to London to Cairo to Nairobi. This was 1961, remember, when planes were still propeller powered and took longer. There is no proof of any plane ticket or passport or birth certificate from a Kenyan hospital. And after giving birth in some mysterious hospital in Kenya, this young white woman would have to make the arduous journey back home with a black baby in her arms. Do you not think this would raise alarms at customs upon entry into the U.S.? This was in 1961, remember, when racial discrimination was still going on.
So, you can believe that magical voyage if you want to, as highly improbable as it is, or you can accept the likeliest scenario: Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was born in a hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii in August 1961. Two newspaper announcements were in the paper within days of his birth indicating the hospital, the governor of Hawaii has verified the authenticity of the birth certificate and a U.S. Congressman (Abercrombie, I believe his name is) knew Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. while they were in college and is on the record as having known about the birth of Barack Jr.
Which makes more sense...that there was a vast conspiracy to hide the truth about President Obama's birth location, or that there is a vast conspiracy perpetuating a distracting story to con their gullible base into believing b.s. for the sake of undermining the credibility of a president who won the popular and electoral vote by a comfortable margin in 2008?
Even though I value my friendships with people and am sad that this one lady decided to de-friend me over this issue, I also have little tolerance for ignorance. When you choose to remain willfully ignorant about the true motives of people who say things with impunity, then perhaps it is for the best that we aren't friends. I value intelligence above all else. Let's not allow ourselves to be taken in by malicious people who want to take advantage of our ignorance to do damaging things to our country and the middle class.
Oh, and one more bit of information...even if Obama was somehow, magically born in Kenya, that would still not make his presidency illegitimate because he was born to a natural born citizen mother. As the campaign of John McCain proved, a presidential candidate can be born outside of the U.S. so long as at least one parent is a natural born U.S. citizen. So, try again, birthers!
Also, don't pretend that you care about presidential legitimacy when you were silent regarding the Supreme Court's decision in 2000 to end the Florida recount and install George W. Bush as president. You told liberals to "Get over it!" Time to take Gore's advice from 2000 and know when it's time to let it go and move on. Obama is our president and he was born in the U.S.A.