Birtherism is built on a foundation larger than Trump

Donald Trump has finally gone on record admitting President Obama was born in the United States, but it took almost five years. This timeline illustrates Trump's claims over the years. (Illustration/Olivia Crosby)

Donald Trump has finally publicly admitted that President Obama was born in the United States. The Republican nominee, of course, did not miss an opportunity to blame his own long history of unfounded speculation on Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton responded with a series of tweets one of which read, “President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period.”

It would be easy, and quite frankly routine, to tack the birther movement on to a disturbingly long list of racist campaigns that Trump has led throughout his life. What is notable, however, about the birther movement, is that the party of Lincoln which likes to separate itself from its nominee’s rhetoric whenever possible cannot so easily dismiss their involvement in this attempt to delegitimize our first black President.

In fact, as reported by the Washington Post, birtherism launched Trump’s political career in the Republican party, and is an indicator of support both among voters and politicians in the party. It is the widespread birtherism, and ultimately, the widespread racism that plagues the Republican party which continues to lend itself to Trump’s base of widespread support on the right.

We must understand birtherism for what it is; racism. When the idea of black man running for president, winning both times, and doing so while maintaining a flawless edge up is so foreign to you that you start a conspiracy theory, there’s something much deeper beyond the surface of uncouth party politics.  

An attack on Obama’s country of origin is an attack on his black excellence. It is important to black America that someone birthed in a nation that has done little more than build slaughter houses for our children can win the presidency two times over. Attempts to undermine Obama’s presidency because of where Trump and other Republicans think he was born are not only ludicrous, but also hateful.

It was no secret that Senator Ted Cruz was born in Canada to two American citizens. When Trump challenged the eligibility of his then-opponent, the public was assured both by Cruz and eventually a state judge in Pennsylvania that he was a naturally born citizen. Let’s for a moment imagine a world where Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. The same logic that protected Cruz’s eligibility should apply to President Obama and his mother who is a natural born citizen.

But would it? Would the same country that still questions whether Obama is a secret Muslim, the same country that may never be allow to elect a Muslim President, citizen or not, would this country of intolerance elect a black man born in Kenya to an interracial set of parents?

My guess is no. My guess is also that the Republican nominee publicly acknowledging the rightful birthplace of our first black president will mean nothing in the long run. Certainly not while he’s pointing fingers at his opponent for his own long personal campaign of hate and speculation. Especially not while he’s in the midst of blatant pandering towards the black community that would have been incomplete without acknowledgement of his wrongdoing against Obama.

Trump’s legacy will always be one of hatred, as Obama’s will be one of hope for many of us. No matter what happens in November, and regardless of what other crazy turns the Trump train takes us on, we must remember that often his hatred is bigger than him. We must remain wary of a party that endorses a man for office while denouncing the things he says on a weekly basis. We must be especially wary of the things they do not denounce.


Haddiyyah Ali is a contributor to The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at haddiyyah.ali@uconn.edu.