Brother. It turns out a substantial number of Illinois Republicans believe a) Barack Obama is not a U.S. Citizen and b) that he’s some sort of secret Muslim.
Hand it to Public Policy Polling for asking these nutcases the question, though, because many of the other major polling outfits won’t do it, apparently because they’re afraid of the answers they’ll get.
My take? As far as the Muslim thing goes, it looks like Obama’s pretty much a Christian: He was baptized as a Christian, he belonged (until the minister’s politics got too hot to handle) to a Christian church, and he still attends Christian services, so it seems to me he’s as much a Christian as all the other self-professed Christians I see spouting off all the time. Actually, his actions suggest he takes the exhortations Jesus made during the Sermon on the Mount far more seriously than, say, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, right-wing legislators, or any television preacher you care to name.
As for the birth certificate thing, two (count ’em) Hawaiian newspapers–the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin–both printed his birth announcement on Aug. 4, 1962. And let me explain something about that. Back in that day, hospitals forwarded a list of live births every day to the local papers; it wasn’t up to the families to do that, the hospital did it. And that’s the way it was when I started in the newspaper biz in the late 1970s. We’d call Copley and Mercy and they’d read off the live births, the parents, and any other information the parents wanted released. Then new privacy rules kicked in and hospitals weren’t allowed to release that information any more; it was up to the parents to fill out the forms and fax or mail them to local papers. If you go through the microfilm of back issues of all newspapers, you’ll see a sharp drop-off in the number of birth announcements after the new privacy rules kicked in because the system no longer automatically announced all births. So when little Barack’s announcements were published, it wasn’t his father or his mother or his grandparents who somehow fraudulantly placed them with the idea that 50 years later he’d be President, it was the hospitals who did it, and they did it as policy, as a matter of course.
And, of course, there is his actual birth certificate, the memories of numerous folks who knew his parents when he was born, and the rest of it. How all of this could have been faked is a mystery to me. How anyone could believe it was faked is an even bigger mystery to me. But then again, there are loads of people who believe Ronald Reagan was a great President, so, well, whatever…
You could chalk all this up to ignorance. I chalk it up mostly to racism, with healthy dollops of ignorance, shear meanness, and religious bigotry stirred in. After the prison gate slammed on Blago, I was feeling a lot better about Illinois. Now? Not so sure.