Like political kudzu, no matter how many times they have been destroyed, birthers keep coming back. The last week has seen a sudden re-emergence of the once-marginalized racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic notion that President Obama was not born in Hawaii. And the Republican presidential nominee is cozying up to leading birthers such as Donald Trump.
Obama’s natural-born American citizenship has been amply documented by the release of both his short- and long-form birth certificates. Researchers have also found historical evidence such as birth announcements in Hawaiian newspapers. When Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, a Gallup poll showed the percentage of Americans who said he was “definitely” or “probably” born in another country dropped from a shockingly high 24 percent to a merely disturbing 13 percent.
But now the birthers are back. One of their main hubs is World Net Daily, a popular website on the conspiracy-minded far right. Through WND Books they have recently published a compendium of discredited and newly invented birther assertions called Where’s The Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, by leading birther Jerome Corsi. On May 17 WND reported that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has become famous for his mistreatment of prisoners and his distaste for immigrants, is investigating the president’s citizenship but being met with “stonewalling” from federal authorities. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse says Selective Service System officials apparently are trying to dissuade the Arizona investigative team from attempting to obtain original documentation to determine whether Barack Obama’s draft registration form is authentic,” wrote WND’s Art Moore.
On the same day Breitbart.com produced the dramatic revelation that a promotional material from 1991 from Obama’s book said he was born in Kenya. The Breitbart editors claimed that they believe Obama was born in Honolulu but that this bizarre little factoid tells us something about Obama’s ideological past.
Other conservatives, such as those at WND, got the hint, though. Rather than making the logical inference that the obscure brochure was incorrect they jumped to the conclusion that this shows Obama was born elsewhere. “The biography is one of numerous published reports as well as personal claims that Obama was born abroad, including the recent testimony of a Chicago-area postal worker who reported he was told by the parents of Bill Ayers that Obama was a foreigner,” writes WND. A postal worker who talked to Bill Ayers parents! Since, as every WND reader knows, Ayers and Obama have been best friends for decades, that’s conclusive, proof, right?