Ignorance is curable, but stupid is forever

Mitt Romney took the pathetic and embarrassing step of releasing his birth certificate Tuesday, right before appearing at a fund raiser hosted by Donald Trump, who recently doubled down on his membership into that special class of American idiot, the birther.  Of all of the absurdly ridiculous movements to come out of the past couple of decades, these chuckleheads are surpassed only by the Heaven’s Gate and Aum Shinrikyo cults, and only by virtue of having not yet killed themselves or anyone else.  That’s about the best that one can say about them.  That this movement still exists is a tribute to the human capacity for irrational faith in an objectively false reality and cognitive dissonance.

The movement exists as an effort to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama, not as any objective or reasonable search for truth or concern about the veracity of his citizenship; I base this on the actions and words of its members and numerous debates I have participated in across various forums, in which the participants steadfastly refuse to accept any evidence and always find a reason to dismiss any of the voluminous mountain of reasons why every single one of their claims is simply and utterly wrong.  About the only good thing to come out of this is that people may finally be starting to realize that Donald Trump is a doofus.  It’s about time.

I’m not really sure when the birther nonsense started to gather steam, but I remember having the early debates well before the 2008 election, and no amount of evidence or reason is sufficient to get through to any of it’s mixed up adherents alternate reality.  They are beyond fact or reason.  In the end, they refuse to acknowledge the simple fact that Barack Obama was elected fair and square and that his eligibility has never been in any serious doubt by any serious person.  And yes, I do mean that signing onto this birther folly disqualifies anyone from the category of serious.  Donald Trump isn’t bringing legitimacy to the movement, on the contrary: it’s revealing him to be a loon.  I’m not sure what his strategy is in sticking to his guns on this one, but suspect it’s a combination of stubborn pride and an overinflated sense of self importance that thinks he’ll manage to sway people into accepting this absurd theory through the sheer force of will.  While that is a plausible strategy in some cases, all of those involve starting from a position that isn’t unequivocally silly to begin with.

It will also be interested to see if Romney’s released birth certificate is as challenged as Obama’s has been; I note that it is marked “Certificate of Live Birth”, not “Birth Certificate”, which are not the same thing according to the birther crackpots.  Also, he only released the “short form” certificate, not the original long form.  Neither the doctor’s name nor that of the hospital appear on the document, nor does the time of birth.  In the fevered, twisted world of the birthers all of these things indicate serious discrepancies in Romney’s claim to legitimate eligibility for the presidency, and I haven’t even gotten to the shocking revelation that his father was born in (gasp) Mexico.

Of course, all of these things are irrelevant, just as they were when they came up with Obama, and I don’t expect any of these issues to be worthy of a second glance to any of the people who pounced on them as “proof” of some grand conspiracy when the candidate in question was black–because, in the end, that’s what it comes down to.  I generally think that claims of racism get trotted out too frequently and often without merit, but after literally years of following and occasionally arguing with members of the birther movement, that’s what it’s all about.  Barack Obama can’t legitimately be the president because he’s black.  One member of the movement explicitly said as much in his challenge, though most of them ostensibly deny it.  I call bullshit.; it’s totally about race.  McCain was born in Panama and nobody seriously questioned his eligibility; in fact the Senate took a meaningless vote to affirm it, apropos of nothing.

A lot of the argument centers around proving Obama was actually born outside the United States, based on some misguided belief that such would be a disqualifying condition.  This, as has been pointed out numerous times, is based on a complete misunderstanding of the term “natural born citizen”, which is legally defined as “being a citizen by virtue of birth”, which includes children born abroad to citizen parents (one citizen parent is sufficent except under specific circumstances that even birthers can’t argue apply to Obama’s mother).  The idea behind the “natural born” clause was to stipulate only people who had been American since birth–which, under any described scenario including the preposterous notion that he was born in Kenya, Obama was.  There is no legitimate, reasonable argument that the birthers have ever made, and trying to follow their logic across the rambling press conferences and legal briefs of Orly Taitz or the utterly nonsensical postings at the online Mecca of the birther insanity, World Net Daily, is a spooky descent into a rabbit hole of madness that Lewis Carroll couldn’t have conceived of on an opium bender.

I shouldn’t give this issue any more time than I already have in years past, but it kind of pisses me off that these idiots are still in the news.  You don’t see a lot of coverage about the Flat Earth Society, though the credibility of the earthers and birthers is roughly equivalent.  Both groups base their entire worldview on a vast conspiracy that encompasses and includes literally everybody but the members of the groups themselves. In the case of the earthers, it’s a conspiracy of modern scientists, governments, astronomers, astronauts, pilots, and sailors.  For the birthers, it’s literally every branch of the United States government, because for their claims to be true it would require the active participation and collaboration of the State of Hawaii, The FBI, The State Department, the Secret Service, the Congress, the Military, and the Judiciary (all the way up to the Supreme Court).  When you think about all of the branches and departments of government who would have to be actively participating for the birther claims to be true, the sheer madness of their crusade becomes evident–even if they’re right about all of it, who the hell do they think they can appeal to?  The ICC?  The United Nations?  The baby Jesus?  Seriously, if every single agency that could possibly intervene on their behalf is already part of the conspiracy, what is it they think they are ever going to accomplish?

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