Birtherism 2.0: A Racist Trope Is Being Resurrected
Mangling Constitutional Amendment Meanings Won’t Stop Sen. Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)’s selection as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate has launched us into some Back To The Future/1984 alternate universe. Birtherism has been resurrected like a beloved soap opera character. (Shout out to Reva Shayne!)
Taking a page from an old playbook
Questioning former President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship conceived the birther movement and gave President Donald Trump the political capital to, eventually, snag the White House. Chapman University law professor and Claremont Institute fellow John C. Eastman revived the racist trope in a recent Newsweek op ed.
Eastman writes the 12th Amendment prohibits “constitutionally ineligible” people from becoming vice president. And, Article II of the Constitution stresses “[n]o person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible to the office of President.”
Since Harris’ parents weren’t naturalized citizens when she was born, she’s ineligible. Really? Rabidly right-wing conservatives, who claim to love the Constitution, never seem to know it by heart. Eastman and his ilk should review the 14th Amendment, Section I:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
They should pay special attention to Section I’s first sentence. Harris is, indeed, eligible to become the next vice president or the first female president. The only thing more disingenuous than Eastman’s pushing this birther propaganda is not only Newsweek’s decision to publish his analysis — but its desperate attempts to deny propagating Birtherism 2.0.
Debating the meaning of these constitutional provisions and, in the particular case of Dr. Eastman’s piece, the meaning of the 14th Amendment’s phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” is not an attempt to deny facts or to make false claims. No one is questioning Harris’ place of birth or the legitimacy of an obviously valid birth certificate.
— Global Editor-in-Chief Nancy Cooper & Opinion Editor Josh Hammer
What makes an American
No. Just no. Eastman isn’t debating Constitutional provisions. He’s twisting them to fit his own agenda. This screed is an eerily similar — albeit subdued — version of the rhetoric spewed against then-candidate, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Eastman’s argument hinges on Harris’ Indian mother and Jamaican father.
Meanwhile, original birthers clung to Obama’s Kenyan father being born in Kenya to try to delegitimize him. They actively ignored his Kansas-born mother and even tried claiming Obama wasn’t an American citizen, since Hawaii supposedly hadn’t entered the Union.
It became a state in 1959. He was born to a U.S. citizen in 1961. Eastman is actively ignoring that Harris was born on U.S. soil, which makes her an American. Cooper and Hammer note late U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s citizenship was also questioned.
McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to American parents. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother. Neither was compelled to produce their respective birth certificate. So, it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Being born on American soil or to American on foreign yields the same citizenship rights. But, yet, here we are. Newsweek is complicit in peddling birther propaganda despite its editorial staff’s claims to the contrary. Oh, how far a former Washington Post Company product has fallen.
No candidate or politician is above the law or critique. Questioning her legitimacy to act as vice president, despite her U.S. Senate service is nothing more than a racist and sexist straw-grasping exercise.