When President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, his popularity was soaring to such an extent that his opponents were in their wilderness years, groping about for anything that would lessen his appeal. They just threw the mud out there to see what would stick.
One of the oddest things that gained traction was the absurd assertion that the President was not born in the United States. This idea became known as the “Birther” movement and galvanized an unusually high number of detractors who became known as “Birthers.”
The aim behind the Birthers was to portray the President as being “an other” or “not one of us.” They already had Obama’s exotic name and non-white skin color to work with, and now they were trying to plant the seeds in the minds of gullible Americans that he was somehow “un-American.”
For Obama to not have been born in the United States would of course mean he was born in another nation. But where? In Kenya? Maybe Indonesia? The Birthers don’t always say, but usually they would have you believe he was born in Kenya, the country of his father.
In 1961, the year of Obama’s birth, the colony of Kenya was in the throes of the decolonization movement spearheaded by Jomo Kenyatta. The tense, often violent Mau Mau rebellion and resistance to British rule had taken place between 1952-1960. The atmosphere of a fledgling black nation trying to throw off the last vestiges of a colonial power would be a horrible environment to enter for a young white woman, impregnated with what would become a bi-racial child. Why would Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, leave a multi-racial, multi-cultural state like Hawaii, and a First World, developed nation like the U.S., in order to have her baby in a developing nation like Kenya? Why would she trade for her son the benefits of U.S. citizenship for the uncertainty of the newly-forming nation of Kenya? Also it was fairly difficult to travel from the U.S. to Kenya in 1961, especially for a pregnant woman. It wasn’t as simple as hopping on a jet and being whisked there in a matter of hours.
So to suggest the President was born in Kenya and not in the U.S. is one of the most nonsensical ideas to ever invade the U.S. landscape. Only a huge vacuum in our political discourse could allow the Birther movement to have any credibility whatsoever.
Ironically, one of the loudest Birther voices belongs to Orly Taitz, who recently lost a primary bid to become the Republican nominee for California Secretary of State. Taitz herself was not born in the U.S. and speaks with an accent. It’s amazing she could be lecturing the President about where he was born and whether or not he is an American.
The state of Hawaii has already furnished conclusive evidence of Obama’s birth certificate. In the article “Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real”, published in USA Today in July 2009, Chiyome Fukino is quoted as saying: “I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen.” Even the Republican governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, has stated that Hawaii records show Obama was born at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, according to the same USA Today article. It is therefore an insult to the people of Hawaii to suggest their records aren’t as valid as the records in other states.
As the New England Historic Genealogical Society has pointed out, Obama’s American roots trace back into the 1600s. According to researcher Gary Boyd Roberts, Obama is related to seven U. S. Presidents (James Madison, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush 41 and 43). He is of Dutch, English, Irish and German ancestry as well as being African American. He is also the direct descendant of Edward I, King of England, and William the Lion, King of Scotland. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama also made light of the fact that he is a distant cousin of former Vice President Richard Cheney. Obama is also related to Sir Winston Churchill and Robert E. Lee. He is related to millions of Americans and his family followed the familiar American path of settling in New England and the mid-Atlantic and working their way West across the Ohio Valley, the Great Plains states and out to the coast. They even ventured beyond the coast to Hawaii.
Now that there are legitimate issues to challenge the President over, let’s hope the inane Birther movement disappears. The Birther movement stands as one of the uglier chapters in American history, unearthing American prejudice and uncorking xenophobia while exploiting the fears of average citizens reeling from distressing economic times.
New England Historic Genealogical Society
Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Research Scholar, author of Ancestors of American Presidents
Los Angeles Times, 2010 California Primary Election Results
“Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real”, published in USA Today in July 2009