It seems that not many people, including the media understand that the mere act of asking the question, “why did President Obama wait so long to release his birth certificate”, is offensive. It continues to legitimize the haters and racists who have been demanding it in the face of overwhelming evidence that’s been around since 2008 in the primaries. Asking that question implies that there was a valid reason all along to ask him, there hasn’t been, it’s all been a manufactured meme to attempt to de-legitimize our first black president. Eugene Robinson touches on this idea very eloquently…(emphasis mine)
Two ugly forces had to combine to produce the birth certificate sideshow, which can only be described as a national disgrace. One is a calculated attempt by Obama’s political opponents to de-legitimize his presidency.
It seems obvious to me that this campaign to paint the president as some sort of usurper — this insistence that despite winning the popular vote by a healthy margin and the electoral vote by a landslide, he wasn’t really elected — has everything to do with race.
Does anyone disagree? Well, just imagine what the birthers would be saying if Obama — like his Republican opponent in 2008, John McCain — had been born in the Panama Canal Zone. Or think of the uproar if Obama — like George W. Bush in 2000 — had lost the popular vote but won the electoral college.
Look, I’m not surprised that the first black president faces unprecedented scrutiny about his origins, and I hope Obama’s not surprised, either. This sort of thing comes with being a historic “first,” and there’s no way around it. To those deniers who can’t come to terms with the fact of the Obama presidency, I have nothing to offer but this: Yes, he’s smarter, richer, luckier and better looking than you, and he’s your president. Yours, mine and ours. And he’s black. Get over it.
But race alone couldn’t have generated the whole birther phenomenon. Also required was an increasing tendency for facts to be treated as personal accoutrements, as easily adopted or discarded as the newest-model smartphone.
If a fact is inconvenient, just ignore it. Put it aside. Surely there’s someone out there who’s selling a counterfeit version that might be more to your liking.
The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s adage that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts” seems so last century. I’m not talking about competing worldviews, I’m talking about a lack of agreement on what is provably, objectively true and what is not. Political polarization is old hat. Empirical polarization — a rejection of this nation’s founding Enlightenment principles — is something new.
In my mind, this last point about objective reality and political polarization is tied to a similar idea I posted about a while back, the fact that we have several right-wing sources of misinformation, primarily Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. They create a false meme, a lie, an exaggeration or run a fucking edited video that creates a false reality, it is then repeated and various Republicans get the memo on the talking points and spread out across the media to continue it. What is disgusting is that often, the lies have already been exposed, yet the media keeps going with them using words like “critics are saying” or similar excuses. The next step in that process is to commission a poll where they can verify that their meme generator worked. That then gives the media cover to keep the lie going, if so many people in a poll believe it, it must be newsworthy. When that lie gets established in the lexicon and starts to die down, the next one begins in the same cycle as above. It’s quite insidious.