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April 2, 2012 Published in Letters/Opinions

Silencing the Birther “Debate”

Opinion: Julia D'Esterre

Four years after Barak Obama released his short-form birth certificate to the public, the battle concerning his legitimacy as an American continues to ensue.

Questioning our president’s citizenship, members of the ‘birther’ movement refuse to be satisfied with documentation verified authentic by Hawaiian officials, newspapers of the time period, and two separate fact-checking groups. Since its emergence in 2008, this movement has been distorting facts, causing chaos and taking attention away from important political concerns. The epitome of an ignorant accusation, the birther “debate” needs to be silenced once and for all so that U.S. voters can focus on the true issues of the 2012 presidential election.

The birther issue reappeared last week when the Commonwealth Court was faced with a request to keep Mr. Obama off the Pennsylvania primary ballot due to his “questionable” citizenship. Though the Supreme Court dismissed the exact same case in 2008, the birther movement seemed incapable of finding solace.

Since the time of last general election, wild allegations have been thrown around concerning the true origin of our current president. Such vocal suspicions grabbed the attention of the media, and a 2011 CBS News/New York Times poll found that 45% of Republicans believed Obama was not born in the United States and 1 in 4 American voters believed the president was born abroad. In response to these shocking numbers, Mr. Obama publicly released his long-form birth certificate (a document that is normally held privately by the state).

At this point, virtually every serious news organization in the country accepted the facts and reported that Barak Obama was born in Hawaii. Nevertheless, birthers rejected these claims and continued to accuse the president of being Un-American. They used blogs, websites, and various other communication/media tactics to spread their message and grow suspicion in the hearts of U.S. voters. On April 30, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported on the issue, saying that “the ‘birther phenomenon is a sobering reminder that, for a significant number of Americans, their relationship with politics and media has entered an era of eerie uncertainty.”

The growth of the Internet and the power it gives to the people has shaped the birther movement. Rather than listening to the media and then creating their opinions, members have made such a roar on the web that the media, who thought the issue closed, feel forced to respond.

United States voters have enough issues to focus on; with the Republican nomination quickly approaching and the presidential election soon to follow, we have important questions to answer and crucial decisions to make. We shouldn’t be distracted by the nonsense of individuals who refuse to see the truth laid out directly before them.

Unfortunately, the birther movement isn’t the only ridiculous claim Americans will have to hurdle past to find truth and fact during the upcoming election.

If the Republican primary is any indication of how the general election will be ran, then voters are in for numerous other sources of confusion. The prominence of super-PAC ads, famous for dramatizing lies and emphasizing out of context data, will be enough of a distraction.

It is clear that the relationship between the media and politics is changing. Individuals with skewed perceptions of truth are capable of causing commotion due to the internet and donors are able to create ads as disturbing and misleading as they please.

And that’s enough for United States citizens to worry about.

So, let’s drop the birther movement. As voters, we have bigger and better issues to discuss.

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