President Obama's decision to release the full long copy of his Certificate of Live Birth in Honolulu may drain the birther movement of some adherents, but it will make few Americans happy.
The majority will appropriately feel shamed by the fact that even today in these United States of America, the stubborn ignorance and blind prejudice of the birthers' persistent suspicions and lies about his birth ultimately coerced the President of the United States to acquiesce to their demands to see his personal birth certificate. This is truly shameful. No other American president has been compelled by prejudice to produce his birth certificate: that dubious distinction for our first African-American presidents shames us all.
Ironically, the ignorance and prejudice that motivated the birthers' crusade to see that certificate - long after its authenticity had been repeatedly verified by Hawaiian state officials and independent investigators - still will disable their capacity or willingness to believe the proof that they have been presented. Many birthers will continue to believe, as conspiracy theorists typically do, what they want to believe - that President Obama is some unqualified "other" unfit for his office - rather than the certified truth of his status as a natural born American fully eligible to hold the office of president.
That is the path, psychologists say, that perpetuates the conspiracy mind-set, especially if it fits with their subliminally or overtly racist prejudice, and their sense of entitlement to believe what they choose to believe, never mind the facts.
A national New York Times/CBS news poll released a week ago confirms the depth of that persistently skeptical anti-Obama prejudice. The poll showed that although 57 percent of American adults said they thought that Obama was born in America, 25 percent said he was born somewhere else.
Among Republicans specifically, the poll showed that fully 45 percent said his birth occurred in another country, while just 33 percent said he was born in America. That speaks volumes about the Republicans obstinate refusal to accept the presidency of the nation's first African-American president and his documented birthright to citizenship.
His birth certificate undeniably confirms, however, that Obama was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. The certificate, bearing a Department of Health number of 61 10641, file number 151, was signed by his mother, Ann Dunham Obama, three days later, and signed by the local registrar the next day.
Prior investigations by independent truth-in-media organizations have long confirmed and documented Obama's birth in Hawaii to his white Kansas mother and his black Kenyan father. They've seen his birth announcement in file copies of the Honolulu newspaper. They've disproved the notion - derived from a garbled interpretation of English into a Kenyan language - that a Kenyan relative said Obama was born in Kenya.
Constitutional scholars have also vouched for Obama's qualifications for citizenship and the presidency, despite the place of his birth, due simply to the fact that he was born to an American mother. In fact, the constitutional phrase that requires presidential candidates must be "natural born" Americans does not disallow Americans born outside the country from the presidency. It requires only that the mother be an American.
Sen. John McCain, Obama's opponent in 2008, was born in Panama. Mitt Romney, who ran against McCain for the Republican nomination, was born in Mexico. Yet both were "natural born" Americans, and the citizenship of neither was questioned.
Obama on Wednesday admitted to being "bemused" by the birthers' unyielding disbelief in the factual circumstances of his birth. He said that he chose to release his birth certificate - a copy of which he obtained only on Monday - simply to lay to rest the continuing, albeit false, claims about his citizenship in order to get on with other, more important debates.
He acknowledged, however, that there would be "a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest." But he said that through release of his birth certificate, he was "speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness." The 2012 budget, he said, would "generate huge and serious debates" which should take precedence.
He is right, of course. Still lawmakers in state legislatures around the country (including Tennessee) are following the divisive Republican tactic of filing and debating so-called "birther bills" requiring proof of eligibility before candidates in the next election can be put on the ballot. Obama's release of his birth certificate may preempt passage of a number of these so-called "credentials" bills. If it does, it will be obvious that they were shamefully aimed at Obama. If they are passed, it will further confirm how inanely distorted politics and partisan mistrust have become among Republicans.