Back when I was a kid, I witnessed a performance of “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” You probably know the song.Jesus loves the littlc children All the little children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, They’re all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.
This took place before they changed the third line to “Red, brown, yellow, black and white.”
This was hardly notable. I grew up in the church. I was involved in Sunday School and Youth Group. I loved Family Camp. Now, it’s is needless to say that this song, while well-intentioned, is far from politically correct. That’s not my point in relating this story.
The mother who was leading her children in this performance, taught the kids hand motions to go with each color. I honestly don’t remember what motions were associated with red, yellow, and black, but knowing the who was involved, I’m pretty certain each would be cringe-worthy in its own right were I to witness the performance today.
The motion that stood out to me, mainly because my mom pointed it out, was the one for white. The motion was to place one’s hand over one’s heart as if saluting the flag. The implication was pretty clear. “White” means “American”, not just “American” but “True Patriotic American.”
When it comes down do it, isn’t that what the birther movement is really about? If Obama were the son of Irish or German immigrants, no one would be questioning his birth certificate. If I, born to a father who was born in Austria, were to run for president, no one would question my eligibility to serve. The fact is that the birther movement is predicated on the idea that “true” Americans are white Americans. Obviously, this notion is patently absurd and insulting to the Americans of all races, ethnicities and religions who have worked and sacrificed to build our nation in ways great and small, public and anonymous.
I had mixed feelings when President Obama released his birth certificate yesterday. I had taken the position that to do so would be to validate the birthers and set a precedent for future Presidents of color. I thought it would amount to swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Of course, swinging at a pitch in the dirt is perfectly legitimate if you hit the ball out of the park, and that’s exactly what President Obama did. His stated reason for releasing the certificate was that the debate was getting to be a silly distraction from the very real issues facing the nation, so he was removing the distraction.
It’s also had another impact. It shows how absurd the birthers really are. There are reports that the certificate is a forgery, that its’ photoshopped, that Obama’s father’s Kenyan citizenship still disqualifies him (it doesn’t). They try to create a vision of some kind of grand conspiracy hatched over the last 5o years to make the United States into some kind of socialist Islamic theocracy.
Then there are those like Donald Trump who are now trying to move on and say that Obama could not have gotten into Columbia and Harvard on his own merits. Well Donald, to quote another icon of the 1980’s “there you go again.” You simply refuse to accept that a black guy got into a better school than you on his own merits.
But you see, that’s all the right wing, which sadly is synonymous with the Republican Party these days, has available. They need distractions and wedge issues. They need to talk about something other than the economy and jobs and national security and the environment because they have no good ideas. They don’t believe in government, so they simply want to take all the safety nets and regulations away, and those platform points are non-starters with the American people.