Everyone remembers the days when Donald Trump and his wife Melania were America’s foremost proponents of the “birther” theory — the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and was therefore not eligible to run for President in the first place.
It was a blatantly racist tactic meant to turn Obama into an “other” or outsider, and it worked on a lot of racist people because of the color of Obama’s skin.
As it turns out, there’s someone with that same skin color on this year’s Democratic ticket for the White House, and lo and behold, the birther tactic that we mysteriously haven’t seen used since Obama ran for the presidency is back. I somehow doubt it’s a coincidence. There have been Black people in this country since before it was a country, 400 years ago. But somehow, the only two times a Black candidate has been on the White House ticket, there’s been a question about the provenance of their birth.
This time around, the subject of racist suspicion is Kamala Harris, whose parents are from Jamaica and India. Kamala herself was born in Oakland and is thus a US citizen under the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship to anyone born in this country.
Racists, however, like to extrapolate the rule back a generation and say that anyone whose parents weren’t either born or naturalized here isn’t automatically a citizen, which is what they wish the law said. They like to call anyone whose parents are not citizens but who becomes a citizen themself by birthright citizenship an “anchor baby,” which is close to the most racist phrase I can think of in recent memory.
Nevertheless, Oakland is a city in the United States, and therefore Kamala is eligible because she is a citizen. But that didn’t stop a pro-Trump reporter at his press briefing today from bringing it up and asking the president to weigh in on the issue.
Trump could easily have dismissed it — much like John McCain did on behalf of Obama long ago when they were opponents for the presidency and a woman at a town hall asserted that Obama was a Muslim “foreigner.” But Trump is not one to pass over conspiracies that might help him win.
Rather than simply shutting the reporter down and telling her it was a ridiculous question, Trump sought to muddy the waters just enough to not directly be saying that Kamala wasn’t eligible, but leaving it up to his listeners, anyway.
Holy shit. Trump pushes a baseless, birther-style theory about Kamala Harris that holds she’s not a citizen because birthright citizenship isn’t a thing.
“I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements … I have no idea if that’s right.” pic.twitter.com/ZIXYrleuVf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2020
I would’ve assumed the Democrats would’ve checked that out before she gets chosen to run for Vice President, but that’s a very serious– you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify ’cause she wasn’t born in this country.”
“They” are saying no such thing. It’s not even in dispute that Harris was born in the US. They’re saying — because they’re racists — that she’s not a real American because her parents weren’t citizens at the time of her birth.
Trump did nothing to dispel that foolishness, and it frankly won’t surprise me if he publicly comments on it again before the week is up.
Featured image via screen capture
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