American politics have turned ugly lately; in particular, I am referring to the "birther" movement.
If you are fortunate enough not to have heard of this, allow me to explain. The birther movement is a nationwide group of protesters who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States of America, which would make him constitutionally ineligible to be president. They demand to see Obama's birth certificate, which would confirm that he was born in the United States. Hence the term: "birther."
Obama is a distinguished and well-educated African-American with a rich cultural background. This seems to be irreconcilable with the birther movement, as they are suspicious enough to be extremely vocal about his birth certificate.
The birther movement represents a disgusting and shameful trend of racism and xenophobia in our country. The birthers represent a group of people so distrustful and so desperate to delegitimize the president, they have resorted to the only method possible to do so: constitutional ineligibility.
The requirements laid out by the Constitution to be president are as follows: The president must be at least 35-years-old, a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years and must have been born in America.
Obama clearly meets the first two requirements, but the birthers have implied, insinuated and outright accused the president of being born in another country. Specifically, they claim that he was born in Kenya, his father's place of birth, or Indonesia, where he spent part of his youth.
These protests are the last dying breath of a group of voters that is trying as hard as they can to reject the fact that an African-American has been elected president. The argument can be made that this is not a racist movement, but a constitutionalist movement; the members of this movement simply want to ensure that the Constitution is upheld.
This argument, however, can be easily defeated by the fact that Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate has already been made publicly available, along with newspaper archives announcing his birth in Hawaii.
Why, then, does the movement continue? The members of the birther movement seem to want to delegitimize the president as much as possible and obstruct him in everything he does. This is a completely unnecessary and counterproductive endeavor, as the birthers' ideal outcome is stagnation, which is particularly dangerous in this time of crisis.
Those in the birther movement have also become associated with those who protest Obama's domestic, economic and foreign policies. There are legitimate arguments from those protesters, but the association with the birther movement seriously inhibits the legitimacy of their message.
It is definitely possible to have bipartisan debate and hopefully consensus on many issues, but the inherent fallacies perpetuated by the birther movement detract from the national debate, and make it much harder to have a meaningful national dialogue.
Despite the limited amount of people in the birther movement, they receive an extraordinary amount of press time, making the movement seem bigger than it actually is. This has the effect of needlessly undermining the president and acting as an enormous embarrassment to America in the eyes of the rest of the world. Normally, the best solution would be to ignore the movement and wait for it to fizzle out and lose support, but there are some seriously dangerous implications of a movement like this.
Because the birther movement spreads lies and other propaganda, it has the potential to spawn misguided rage. The birther movement is along the same lines as the "death panel" rumors, in addition to much of the other misinformation about Obama's healthcare plans.
Similar brutal and fallacious propaganda was spread during the Kennedy administration during the 1960s, and the tragedy that befell President Kennedy is no secret.
The false rumors combined with the racism of the birther movement makes for a very deadly situation. Ideally, this movement could be ignored, but the dangerous potential of the birthers requires constant vigilance.