"I hate to write about this, but I have actually been to this play before and it is really disturbing.
I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then — a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.
And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin — he must have heard, 'God will be on your side' — and so he did.
Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination. [more]
“In an attempt to quash persistent rumors that President Obama was not born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, Hawaii's health director reiterated Monday afternoon that she has personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the Health Department's archives:
‘I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago....’
On Oct. 31, Fukino originally tried to put an end to the belief among ‘birthers’ that Obama was born in Kenya and thus was ineligible to run for the office of president.
Despite Fukino's statements, the issue has continued to resonate from Capitol Hill to the national airwaves.
Last week, CNN's Lou Dobbs demanded Obama's original birth certificate. CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein told staffers of Lou Dobbs Tonight that the issue is a ‘dead’ story, Kline told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday.
In an e-mail, the Times reported, Klein wrote that CNN researchers determined that Obama's 1961 birth certificate no longer exists because Hawaiian officials had discarded paper documents in 2001 — a claim denied Monday by Hawaiian health officials.
In 2001, Hawaii's paper documents were reproduced in electronic format, but ‘any paper data prior to that still exists,’ Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.
Okubo would not say where Obama's original birth certificate is but said, ‘We have backups for all of our backups.’
A congressional resolution introduced by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of island statehood was delayed Monday.
The resolution includes a clause noting Obama's Hawaiian birthplace. The line ‘Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961’ appeared to be construed by birthers as a thinly veiled attempt to get Congress to affirm Obama's U.S. citizenship, said Dave Helfert, an Abercrombie spokesman.
As the issue came to a vote Monday, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., rose to object, saying there was not a quorum present. The House later voted 378-0 to approve the resolution. Bachmann voted in favor of the resolution.
Birthers denounce the notion that Obama was born in Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, despite court rulings and statements by Fukino and Hawaii's Republican governor, Linda Lingle.”*
“This past June, Representative Mike Castle held a town-hall meeting at a community center in Georgetown, Delaware. Castle, a Republican, is the state’s only House member, and he had invited half a dozen health-care experts to take questions from his constituents. A woman in a red shirt spent most of the meeting with her hand in the air. When Castle called on her, she rose from her seat, clutching a ziplock bag filled with papers and a miniature American flag.
‘Congressman Castle,’ she began. ‘I have a birth certificate here from the United States of America saying I’m an American citizen. With a seal on it. Signed by a doctor. With a hospital administrator’s name, my parents, my date of birth, the time, the date. I want to go back to January 20th and I want to know: why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?’
‘Yeah!’ a man in the audience shouted. The Congressman appeared flummoxed. The health-care experts looked on, impassively.
‘He is not an American citizen,’ the woman in red went on. ‘He is a citizen of Kenya.
‘I am American,’ she continued. ‘My father fought in World War Two with the greatest generation in the Pacific theatre.’ She waved the flag and the ziplock bag in Castle’s direction. ‘And I don’t want this flag to change. I want my country back!’ The community center erupted in applause.
The phenomenon known variously as the ‘birther movement,’ the ‘birther conspiracy,’ and the ‘birther nut-job fantasy’ is now roughly two years old. Its adherents hold that Barack Obama, owing to his birthplace (wherever that may be), is ineligible to be President. As articles of faith go, this one falls somewhere between a belief in Santa Claus and ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’ Obama’s birth certificate, which has been posted on the Internet, shows that he was delivered in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, at 7:24 P.M. Further confirmation of these facts exists in the form of birth announcements that appeared in two Honolulu newspapers, the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, the relevant pages of which have also been scanned and posted on the Web. So unambiguous is the evidence that a spokesman for the Republican National Committee has called the question of Obama’s birthplace an ‘unnecessary distraction,’ and most elected officials have either ignored it or dismissed it as nonsense.
‘If you’re referring to the President there, he is a citizen of the United States,’ Representative Castle told the woman in red. (Her response was to lead the crowd in an impromptu recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.)
Still, the birthers are legion. So far, more than half a dozen lawsuits have been filed alleging that Obama is not a ‘natural born’ citizen. One plaintiff, an Army reservist from Georgia, argued in court that he couldn’t be sent to fight in Afghanistan because the military lacked a Commander-in-Chief. In a poll released over the summer, twenty-eight per cent of the Republicans surveyed said that they did not think Obama was born in the U.S., and thirty per cent said that they were unsure, meaning that fully half took birther ideas seriously enough to doubt the legitimacy of their government. When a video of the woman in red was posted on YouTube, it quickly went viral; within a few weeks, it had received some eight hundred thousand hits.
That such a wacky idea should be so persistent is, to put it mildly, disquieting. Here we are, quadrillions of bytes deep into the Information Age. And yet information, it seems, has never mattered less.
… ‘FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate,” the group’s Web site announced on August 21, 2008. ‘Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.’ Nine high-resolution photos accompanied the post, showing the raised seal, as well as a set of creases.
The birthers were unfazed. ‘I, for one, of course, am not surprised,’ JM Hanes wrote on the Web site JustOneMinute. ‘I mean he’s had more than two months to find a better forger.’ Others insisted that the birth certificate was meaningless, since it was just a computer-generated copy of the original handwritten or typed certificate that should have been filed with the state of Hawaii. When, on October 31, 2008, the Hawaiian health director, Chiyome Fukino, issued a statement saying that she had ‘personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record,’ this evidence, too, was dismissed.” Read much, much more.
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