Be Born Again: Reject the Politics of Denial

birthersI recently watched Chris Matthews interview G. Gordon Liddy about the so-called “birther” movement. Mr. Liddy, best known for his involvement in the Nixon Watergate scandal, is also currently a right-wing talk show host and advocate of this “birther” drivel.

Along with a group of other conspiracy naysayers, Liddy appears to be attempting to rewrite history. He says he believes that President Obama was not born in our country and therefore is serving as our president illegally. He says he has proof that he was instead born in Kenya. This “proof,” he says, lies in a sworn deposition by a step grandmother of Mr. Obama that she witnessed the birth in Kenya. He also spoke of five American soldiers who have refused to serve because they believe they have no commander in chief to serve. What Liddy neglected to note was that this decision was these soldiers’ personal choice, and not proof of anything.

Matthews showed Liddy a copy of President Obama’s original birth certificate. Liddy said it wasn’t proof the President was born here because it was only a copy, the hospital he was born in wasn’t named, and it was instead called a “certificate of live birth.” Matthews explained that in Hawaii, that’s what they’re called, and officials in Hawaii don’t name the hospital on birth certificates, because every state has the right to set its own standards and rules. States’ rights, and all that.

Matthews also said that Hawaii, by choice, doesn’t show original documents to anyone. It’s that state’s policy. He said the Republican governor of Hawaii has confirmed that Obama was born there. The head of that state’s health department has also confirmed that Mr. Obama was born there. Matthews showed Liddy the 1961 birth announcement printed in the local Hawaiian newspaper.

None of this satisfied Liddy. After some pressure from Matthews, however, Liddy agreed to admit on the air he was wrong if offered sufficient proof, but, he said, he would do so only if he were wrong. In other words, he left that door wide open for continued angry speculation among his listeners.

Around this same time, a woman stood up at a fundraiser for Republican Mike Castle in Maryland, screaming about how her father fought in World War II, was part of the “greatest generation,” and that she, waving her birth certificate, was a citizen. She very loudly asked why no one was paying attention to the “fact” that Obama is not a citizen and what were they planning to do about it. She screamed that she “wanted her country back.” Many people in the room cheered and yelled, agreeing with her.

This incident, like the officers refusing to serve, is not proof Obama is an illegal alien. It’s just proof that a decidedly uninformed and infuriated mob is unwilling to accept reality.

These people cling to what used to be, to the way they want things to be, not to the way things actually are. This all points to their inability to recognize that a black man, or a Democrat, or both, is our duly elected president, and by a healthy margin, I might add. In looking back instead of forward, they are wasting their time and energy and creating havoc where none need exist. They are yelling nonsense while standing in the way of progress, and our problems are too important to waste time on such foolishness.

This kind of hateful speech clearly demonstrates the paranoia and crippling fear haunting conservatives who can’t get on board with the fact that our country has moved on and continues to move on, slowly but surely. Two steps forward, one step back, but then forward again. The increments are sometimes very small, but they eventually move in the right direction, as they should — forward. That train, indeed, has left the station.

The hero of the Right, Ronald Reagan, is dead, and so are his ideas. Reaganomics didn’t work, and we all know it. Nothing ever trickled down — the rich became richer, the poor became poorer, and the middle class got squeezed and is still being squeezed to this day, 30 years later. In giving the rich a tax break, Reagan let millions of mentally ill out of hospitals to fend for themselves, which has led to our now overwhelming and ever-worsening homeless problem. Oh, and Reagan granted amnesty to all those illegal aliens to whom the Right is constantly claiming we should not grant amnesty.

But they will say Reagan broke up the Soviet Union and put an end to the Cold War. The fact is the Soviet Union was already beginning to implode on its own. Being in the right place at the right time, Reagan just helped it along. Timing and rousing speeches have been on the side of many a U.S. president, Democrat or Republican.

It is a welcome fact that white males are no longer the only choice to be our leaders, and this helps foster the promise of our founders, that all are created equal. Black men can actually be well educated, articulate, brilliant, full of ideas, and exhibit leadership. They can be socially responsible, having intact families without a history of divorce, adultery, or sexual predation, virtues that have always been embodied by the right as “family values.” Well, except for Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, and John Ensign, to name a few. Even more might be found on C Street, but only if they’ll tell.

Black, Asian, and Latino men can and are working hard, getting ahead, setting a positive example for others, and contributing to our society. Women of any color can be and are well educated, articulate, brilliant, full of ideas, and exhibiting leadership, by serving in Congress, as Secretary of State, and on the Supreme Court, among many other capacities. They also work hard, get ahead, set a positive example for others, contribute to our society, and they most certainly could serve as leader of the free world. That day will come, because progress marches on.

The only constant in life is change, and that is an incontrovertible fact. Those of you who are in denial and fighting inevitable change will only face a steeper and steeper uphill battle. Your mounting anger and bitterness will eventually eat you up inside, because it takes far more and much harder work to be constantly terrified.

Do yourselves and everyone else a favor — stop digging the hole you’re in and climb out. Move forward and embrace what is, joining the rest of us for a kinder, fairer, and far better world.

Joanne Turner

Joanne Turner has lived in the community of Eagle Rock in Northeast Los Angeles for 33 years and served as president of The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) from 1997 to 2003. In addition to her community activism, she has worked as a middle manager in a prominent law firm, as a storyboard colorist and illustrator, and as a freelance writer and editor.

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