Saturday, May 15, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, signed legislation Wednesday that will allow state officials to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Why? The state has been overwhelmed with requests for the document — the stack of queries through March measures 13 inches high — and the demand is burning up staff time.
It is amazing that more than a year after the president took office, the “birthers” are still alive and kicking, trying to prove that Obama wasn’t born in the United States and is thus ineligible to be president. Nevermind the proof that he was born in Hawaii, like his Hawaiian birth certificate. Birthers say it’s not the “legitimate” birth certificate, even though Hawaiian officials, including the Republican governor, say it is. The birthers also dismiss the fact that two Honolulu newspapers printed birth announcements shortly after he was born. Anyone, after all, could have submitted those announcements.
Well, in the birthers’ minds there exists a great conspiracy to hide the “fact” that Obama is really an “illegal immigrant.” They say the government is in on the conspiracy, preventing the public from seeing the facts, and Hawaii’s latest act is further proof of that.
Of course, if you had a film of the president’s birth and affidavits of those in the delivery room, it wouldn’t be enough for “birthers.” To those who believe them, conspiracy theories are never wrong. Anything contrary to their theory can be easily dismissed by declaring a cover-up of the “truth.”
The Internet has allowed conspiracy theories to spread exponentially. What is troubling is that so many people have no problem engaging in conspiracy theories.
For example, a caller to conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh last month asked about the possibility that the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was the work of someone opposed to offshore oil drilling. Limbaugh claimed that Obama would use the oil spill to his political advantage and also questioned the timing of the explosion — it was a few days before Earth Day and the scheduled release of an energy bill that would allow for more oil drilling and nuclear plants. Limbaugh said, “What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?”
Not to be outdone, Dana Perino, former President George W. Bush’s spokeswoman, recently said on Fox News that she was “not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory” but then asked, “Was this deliberate? You have to wonder if this was sabotage.”
Seriously? There has been no factual evidence presented that the oil rig disaster was anything but an accident. Comments like that are reckless and will only fan the flames of the conspiracy theories. But maybe that’s the tactic for Obama’s opponents — create distractions from the real issues and promote conspiracy theories to inflame voters. (Remember during the campaign, some of the extremists falsely claimed he was a Muslim who hated the flag and wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance?)
Hawaiian officials apparently had enough. So have we. We hope the conspiracy theorists will finally give it a rest.