Wednesday, August 05, 2009
CULTURE: Birthers Bringing Back The Retard
We've all been trained over the past couple of politically correct decades to politely refrain from using the word "retarded" to describe someone (or even some event). Over time, the word "retarded"—which was used many decades ago as a euphemism for less desirable adjectives—took on a very negative connotation. It became a way to insult a non-developmentally challenged person: "What are you—some kind of retard?" It's a pretty severe indictment of a person's mental capabilities, reserved for the dumbest, most idiotic kind of behavior or thinking.
Enter the "birthers." You know—the people who still believe that President Obama isn't a natural-born U.S. citizen. The people who think his state-issued certificate of birth is somehow a forgery and there's a 48-year worldwide conspiracy in play to protect "the truth" about his birthplace. (And from the protest signage shown, people who seem to believe a cotton cloth is a nationality.)
That's why I'm bringing back retard.
Misguided is too kind of a word to describe the birthers. Mistaken and foolish are certainly true, but the birthers really go far beyond such benevolent terms. This is an active, self-inflicted brand of stupidity.
Here's how the dictionary defines retard: a person who is stupid or obtuse; slow or limited in intellectual development.
Per the above definition, I would feel like a complete asshole calling these birthers retards if they were, in fact, a group of "differently-abled" citizens who were simply incapable of understanding what facts are or what our Constitution requires to be president. But that is not the case. The birthers are self-made retards, proudly wrapping themselves in a flag of retardation sewn by their own (apparently very idle) hands.
What the persistence of the birther movement shows us is that some people, no matter the facts or evidence, no matter the repeated reinforcement of the facts or evidence, no matter the ease with which these very same people can verify the facts or evidence themselves, some people will willfully choose ignorance and adopt aggressive stupidity as a preferred mental state.
Factcheck.org does a pretty good job of covering what they learned when actually handling the state seal stamped birth certificate: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html
That well-established conspiracy-fomenting rag USA Today covered the repeat verification of Obama's birth just last week by Hawaii state officials and the state's Republican Governor Linda Lingle: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-27-obama-hawaii_N.htm
Of course, during the last presidential election, both the Hillary Clinton and John McCain camps pursued this citizenship question vigorously. What better way to get rid of Obama than on a technicality? Both campaigns came to the same conclusion: dead end. Obama's a natural born citizen. But this Clinton-McCain factual conclusion is no reason for the birther retards to stop willfully . . . retarding themselves.
Hey, you know when you’re REALLY retarded? When even Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter think you're an idiot. Fox News' O'Reilly is a loud mouthed jackass who has never let the facts get in the way of whatever loud mouthed jackassy thing he rants about. But even O'Reilly cops to the fact of Obama's citizenship and thinks the birthers are nuts. And Fox News frequent guest harpy Coulter, always up for some Rube Goldberg-like labyrinth of a conspiracy theory, has called the birthers "cranks" and the Obama birth certificate a non-issue.
Just this week, the birthers finally came up with what the claim is proof that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. They've magically produced Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. But, of course, it's a fake. And a poorly executed fake at that. (Turns out it's actually a form from Australia.) Check out some of the errors the forgers made. Talk about retarded: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/03/kenyan-birth-certificate_n_249850.html
What's a little troubling about these birthers is that their retardation seems to be contagious, at least to some people you might not necessarily suspect. Like CNN's Lou Dobbs. Sure, he's a one-note song about immigration, but did he ever really seem retarded?
And the retardation virus appears to have hit Republican Florida Congressman Bill Posey who introduced House Bill 1503 which would require all presidential candidates to submit birth certificates and "such other documentation as may be necessary" to prove they are U.S. citizens. A handful of fellow Republicans have signed on to this bill, which the birthers all love, but it seems . . . wait a second. Republican Congressmen? Some from Florida? Retards? Never mind . . .
It has been suggested by some thoughtful commentators that the entire birther movement and its seeming inability to get beyond the fact the Barack Obama was overwhelming elected President is a form of cultural denial. It's an attempt to delegitimize Obama's clear, fair election by saying he somehow isn't one of us, that he somehow won by underhanded means, or that he and the cabal of the voting majority somehow tricked the minority voting block of "real Americans." The United States is changing culturally, ethnically, and politically—has been for the past couple of decades—and an albeit small but vocal percentage of citizens doesn't like it, feels like they are losing their grip on the country they have controlled for so long, thus they are lashing out in this weird, retarded way. I think there may be some truth in this.
Other equally thoughtful commentators have suggested that this birther movement is thinly veiled racism. Because in 2009 the expression of unadulterated racism is, for the most part, offensive to the vast majority of Americans, this birther thing is a way to channel sheer racial hatred into something more acceptable. A movement that called for getting rid of the n***er in the White House would be squashed immediately by even the mildly prejudiced of Americans. But suggesting that Obama is somehow not legitimate gets the idea across in a more palatable way. There may be some truth to this, too, but I have yet to meet and get to know any birthers personally, so I can't fairly ascribe the damaging term "racist" to the birthers as a whole.
But I do know a retard when I see one—or hundreds of them. Don't really have to get to know them or their hearts to understand that when you willfully refuse to acknowledge facts, steadfastly act stupid in the face of facts, or impede your own intellectual development for some warped political purpose, then jack, you ain't nuthin' but a retard.
The short bus will be arriving soon to take you to a Health Care town hall in Columbus, Ohio . . .