Friday, June 1, 2012
By Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI Executive Director
It is time for the Romney campaign and GOP leaders to denounce campaign season birtherism, which is nothing but veiledracism.
For the past four years, President Obama has been subjected to the most vitriolic and conspiratorial attacks endured by an American presidential candidate and president in my lifetime. Though Tea Party rallies depicting him and his wife as monkeys have dissipated, the outlandish rhetoric that our president may not have been born as an American, and thus does not have the right to be president, is rearing its ugly head again.
From Donald Trump’s most recent false statement that President Obama was born in Kenya to former Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra’s remarks that we need a Birther Czar to verify citizenship of presidential candidates, the Romney campaign and its surrogates have not vocally denounced this extremely divisive discourse.
Before even addressing the subtle racism within birtherism, we should all be clear that even if President Obama, who has produced a birth certificate from Hawaii, was born in Kenya, he still qualifies to be president due to having birthright citizenship through his American mother. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who ran for president in 2008, actually was not born within the 50 states, but in the Panama Canal Zone, though no politicians questioned him being a “natural-born citizen.”
Birtherism is nothing but a racist ploy to paint President Obama as the other, not truly American enough, as well as the continued Islamophobic suggestions that he is a secret Muslim. Given that one out of six Americans still believe that our president is a secret Muslim, there are cheap political points to be scored by questioning the president’s citizenship and even his religion.
Let us be real. The entire birther movement would not have been born if President Obama’s parents were both White Christians. His being painted as potentially born in Kenya and being secretly Muslim can be proclaimed, while it is not politically correct to say that many Americans still are not comfortable with having an African-American as president.
Though the Romney campaign and many GOP leaders have not proclaimed birtherism, there has been a level of silence, which is in fact complicity, regarding this issue. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
It is time for our politicians not to betray the spirit of what our nation is suppose to represent, which means that they must denounce the xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism within birtherism.