Obama and the Rise of Birtherism

Woman asking about Obama's birth certificate and the rise of birtherism

When former President Barack Obama was elected, an elaborate conspiracy theory began to spread like wildfire. The theory insisted that Obama was not actually a U.S. citizen and thus was ineligible to be president.

It became known as the birtherism movement, and since Donald J. Trump publicly supported this idea, both before and during his own presidency, many people wonder whether or not there is any truth to the theory.

In fact, questions about Obama and his birthplace have continued for years, even after he released his US birth certificate.

Obama’s Birth Certificate

In 2008, Obama released his long-form, Hawaiian birth certificate, in an attempt to dispel the rumors about his citizenship and birthplace. Three years later, he also posted a copy of his Certificate of Live Birth.

However, Trump has made numerous comments questioning whether Obama was born in the U.S. since 2011, after the release of the birth certificate and well before he himself was elected president.

The agency holding Obama’s original birth certificate, the Hawaii Department of Health, issued a public statement verifying the legitimacy of Obama’s US birth certificate. However, Trump and other conspiracy theorists have continued to question the legitimacy on both television and social media.

Despite clear evidence that Obama was born in the U.S., birtherism supporters continued to try to undermine the legitimacy of America’s first African-American president.

Who started the birtherism movement?

It’s not clear exactly where the birtherism movement started. Best estimates indicate that the rumor was spread through an anonymous chain email in 2008, at the time when Obama was running against Hilary Clinton in the primaries. There is an additional conspiracy theory that the idea was actually spread by Clinton’s campaign, in an attempt to damage Obama’s run. However, Clinton has denied this many times, and there is no evidence that her campaign had anything to do with the rumors. In fact, Obama’s own campaign likely contributed, unintentionally, to the spread of misinformation. When the email first started to go around, the Obama campaign immediately attempted to squash the rumors. But, this made many people feel that Obama had something to hide and that the theory might actually be true.

In addition, current U.S. President Donald J.Trump, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and several Republican congressmen have expressed support for the conspiracy theory. If the rumors were true, falsifying birth records and misrepresenting citizenship would be impeachable actions. However, the majority of congressmen refused to pursue impeachment and the Judiciary Committee was never given evidence worthy of impeachment.

Who is Barry Soetoro?

Barry Soetoro is Barack Obama.

Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, to Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr.

However, in 1964 his parents divorced, and his mother married Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, in 1967.Soetoro was originally from Indonesia, so the family ended up moving there.

While he was attending school in Indonesia, Obama went by the nickname “Barry.” At times, people would refer to him using his stepfather’s last name, Barry Soetoro. However, he officially went by his father’s last name, Barry Obama.

In 1971, Obama moved in with his maternal grandparents in Honolulu and has lived in the U.S. ever since.

Racism behind the birtherism movement

Despite the fact that Obama publicly released both his long-form birth certificate and his short-form birth certificate, proving that he was born in the U.S., the birtherism movement has continued to spread.

This is no surprise, however, since Obama was the first black president and also has a foreign-sounding name. Racist supporters of the movement would do anything to try to de-legitimize his presidency, and studies have shown that racism is the driving force behind birtherism.

Learn more about: Long form vs. short form birth certificate

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