Death of Rational Thinking

July 31, 2009

“When do we start a serious dialogue about the Birther movement being a proxy for racism that is unacceptable to articulate in more direct terms?”

So asks Glen Thrush at Politico about a new poll on whether President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen. The poll shows 58 percent of Republicans believe Obama isn’t a citizen or aren’t sure. By a wide margin this sentiment is strongest in the South. In fact, among Southerners of all political stripes, 53 percent are in the no or unsure he-isn’t-a-citizen camps.

Forget that Hawaii’s Republican governor has verified the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and that journalists and others have inspected it. Forget that two Hawaiian newspapers printed birth announcements when Obama was born in 1961. What’s worth remembering is that hatred in politics kills rational thinking. It creates a false reality where wrongs feel righted and vindication can be summoned at a whim.

Imagine if Neil Armstrong returned from the moon and declared the Earth flat or expressed uncertainty about its roundness. His reason? Because he disdained anything spherical. A psychiatric hospital rather than a ticker-tape parade would have been his next destination.

As for the Birthers, how does a nation treat delusional thinking on an epic scale?

UPDATE: Salon has compiled the definitive guide of facts regarding the Obama citizenship issue.

"Courtyard with Lunatics," Francisco Goya

"Courtyard with Lunatics," Francisco Goya