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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Word of the Week: "After-Birther" Movement

Even after the White House released a PDF of President Obama's long-form birth certificate from Hawaii, "birthers" still aren't satisfied. And honestly-- why should they be? Don't get me wrong; I'm no birther. I think the whole birther theory that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States is silly and improbable. The differing and often contradictory claims birthers make are-- like so many other conspiracy theories-- based on circumstantial evidence, wild speculation, and often plain falsehoods.

But if you're going to buy into all of that and believe that the President really wasn't born in America, it's not a huge leap at all to believe that he could and would release a faked PDF of his long-form birth certificate. If all the rest of the theory is true, and the President and his allies have been faking his citizenship this whole time and covering their tracks, of course they could also create a doctored "birth certificate." Anyone could have predicted that this wouldn't satisfy the birthers-- and many did.

That is the hallmark of a true "wingnut," "barking moonbat," or whatever other dysphemism you want to use for someone who has decided ahead of time that they believe a proposition is true so that no matter what evidence you give them to refute their belief, they will remain intransigent in their faith. 20th century philosopher Karl Popper, made an important contribution to philosophy when he asked: what would you do to prove yourself wrong?

That is a question we all must sincerely answer about our beliefs if we want to consider ourselves earnest seekers of the truth, and not merely dogmatic adherents to whatever belief we want to be true. What would you do to prove yourself wrong? What evidence or fact-- if someone could verify its truth to you-- would shake your belief in a proposition? If the answer is nothing at all-- then you are not a true seeker, but a dogmatist, as so many birthers, truthers, climate alarmists, race baiters, war mongers, welfare statists, drug prohibitionists, and so very many other "faithful" adherents to anything but the truth are.

Orly Taitz, the so-called "birther queen" says Obama's birth certificate is invalid because it lists his race as "African" instead of "Negro." She argues that birth certificates at that time should have said "Negro," not the more politically-correct "African" which sounds more like it would have come from the mid-90s (Hat tip: Memeorandum). Notice that Taitz doesn't bother conclusively showing us that Hawaiian birth certificates from that time used the word "Negro." It honestly wouldn't be hard for a true investigative journalist to find out what birth certificates said back then in that state, but Taitz can't be bothered by facts. It just doesn't "sound right" to Taitz, so it must be wrong.

Meanwhile The Smoking Gun has a list of "a few nutty points about the birth certificate sure to be seized upon by the nonbelievers," including questions about the curvature of the certificate and the seamlessness of the green background on it. This is getting ridiculous, and I am extremely aggravated that so many Republicans who slandered Ron Paul as a "truther" when he unequivocally denied any belief in that facile theory, have become so completely infatuated with this stupid conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

That's why my hat is off to Ryan J. Reilly for coining a term that I will now use to describe any birther who adheres to their theory after Obama released his long-form birth certificate: "After-Birther."

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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