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Birtherism Too


You will be shocked that Kamala Harris being selected as the vice presidential nominee has led to an even viler Bitherist conspiracy theory:

Kamala Harris, born in October of 1964 in Oakland, California, meets all the constitutional criteria to serve as president — and therefore as vice president — of the United States.

Yet on August 12, Newsweek published an op-ed by John Eastman, a professor at the Chapman School of Law and a fellow at the Claremont Institute, arguing that she does not. The publication’s editors are at pains to argue that Eastman’s argument had nothing to do with the “racist conspiracy theory” of birtherism. But Donald Trump, who parlayed his considerable fame into political clout specifically by avowing such racist theories, appeared to embrace Eastman’s theories the next day at a West Wing event, saying he’d heard from a highly qualified lawyer that Harris is ineligible.

There are several things in the mix here: racist dog whistles, constitutional theory, and a somewhat serious conservative push to overturn the legal basis of American citizenship.

But most of all, it’s a story of Trump’s love of bullshit — a form of non-factual discourse in which he’s barely even trying to trick people.

He’s just saying things — willfully indifferent to their truth or falsity — and in doing so creating new shibboleths for his movement and his followers. Just as it’s now an article of faith in Trumpist circles that Joe Biden is senile, that Hillary Clinton committed some kind of grave crime related to email server management, that something called “Obamagate” happened, and that vote-by-mail is different from absentee ballots, we will likely soon be hearing endless shifting stories about Harris’s supposed ineligibility. None of it is true, and the details barely matter, but such is the phantasmagoria we inhabit in Donald Trump’s America, even as hundreds die daily of a viral disease without a cure.

This is an amusing sidenote:

The best revenge is living well. Alas for poor Master Eastman, “writing howlingly racist and farcically stupid op-eds for the Potemkin online remnant of a dentist’s office newsweekly” is the opposite of living well.

What’s not funny is that this bullshit was amplified by the president and is just one of the opening salvos of what is going to be a very ugly campaign.

Here’s another point by Manne I wish I could disagree with:

…great piece on this from Mark Joseph Stern:

Sen. Kamala Harris is a citizen of the United States who is eligible to serve as vice president. This is not an argument but a statement of fact, because children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents receive birthright citizenship under the Constitution. It is as debatable as the solution to 2+2—which is to say it’s not up for debate. A cadre of racists, however, argue otherwise: They allege that these children do not automatically receive American citizenship. They are objectively wrong. But the conservative legal movement continues to entertain their lie, lending it a patina of legitimacy. In turn, media outlets give these charlatans a megaphone through which to launder their racist falsehoods.

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