Letter to a birther 

Dear Mr. Freddoso,
...I am afraid that you have not looked into the birther issue at all, and simply do not know the facts.  Have you talked to any true experts about the evidence?  I am sure that if you looked into the issue yourself (instead of listening to what others may say about it), you will quickly come to realize that the birthers have a much stronger case than do their critics.
As a journalist, you have an obligation to find out the truth, even if that will be very inconvenient to you (in the short run) on a number of levels...
Michael


Dear Michael:

I appreciate your kind and respectful note, but I must disagree with its premise, which is similar to that expressed by many other correspondents writing me today on this topic in protest of a recent blog item I wrote.

People wanted to see the birth certificate. Well, we have now seen the birth certificate. I don't understand how this hasn't sunk in for some people, but I may be underestimating man's ability to believe only that which he wants to believe.

G.K. Chesterton began his autobiography thus:

Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874, on Campden Hill, Kensington...

Like him and like all other men, I have no recollection of my own birth, yet I accept the facts about it as I know them based solely on the word of others, many of whom I have never even met. Others have told me, others have kept records, and others (I presume, because I have no other way to prove it), have not altered or doctored my records at any point over the years in order to trick me.

Literally anyone who can find my name in a phone book could raise doubts about my true birthplace. They could tell me that in the 1970s, many children were given Indiana birth certificates for simplicity's sake when they were in fact born in Michigan to escape Indiana's substandard hospitals. If they know more about my family, they could argue that my parents once lived in Germany, and I am incapable of proving definitively that I was not born there and transported back to the States, then aided by a keen forgery of a birth certificate that has allowed me to pass off as a Hoosier ever since.

But a mere argument, based on conjecture and narratives about how it might have happened, is not sufficient for me to take such doubters seriously. They would have to come forward with credible evidence that I was really born somewhere else. For example, if someone came to me with a hospital record from West Berlin, stating that I was born there, or that I am actually two years older than I thought, I might begin to doubt the story of my birth. I might begin, for the first time, to wonder whether my parents have been lying to me for decades, and whether the State of Indiana is in fact perpetrating a fraud on me by supplying false information. At that point, I might consider the matter worthy of investigation, journalistic or otherwise.

In the case of the birthers, they have produced no evidence -- not a scrap -- that President Barack Obama was born anywhere but in Hawaii. This despite the fact that the burden of proof lies squarely with them. Their entire case, with which I am fairly familiar, is based at its very best on mere conjecture about how Hawaiian vital records might have been fudged in some instances (not necessarily in Obama's) in the 1960s. It relies at times on such "evidence" as the fact that organizations such as UPI and Snopes.com have, at various times, misstated the hospital where Obama was born. It relies on a dodgy interview with one of the wives of Obama's grandfather in Kenya, in which she apparently either misspoke or was mistranslated but immediately attempted to correct the record multiple times.

The birthers raise a multitude of potential doubts which, if ever backed up by any actual evidence, would merit further examination. But we are now well past the 2008 campaign and through two years of the Obama administration, and the birthers are right where they began: With a preordained conclusion, and in search of some facts to back it up. They are peddling the same half-baked theories about how Obama could have been falsely presented as born in Hawaii, and self-defeating arguments in the alternative -- for example, that if Obama ever was a citizen, he must have given up his citizenship when he lived in Indonesia. (Why? Because I want to believe it, that's why.)

Obama has now released two documents issued by the State of Hawaii, both of which satisfy all legal requirements and identify his birthplace. In the case of those who persist in the folly of disbelieving their own eyes (and pretending they understand Adobe Illustrator when they do not), I don't think there is any evidence that Obama could possibly produce to prove his legitimacy.

The assertion that Obama was born in some foreign country has become an article of faith for some, for which no direct evidence is necessary, and all direct evidence to the contrary must be rejected out of hand. (May I remind everyone that only one fake birth certificate has ever been released for President Obama. It said he was born in Kenya.

I have little sympathy with this president. Before the 2008 election, I wrote a book saying that people should not elect him, and I feel very much vindicated so far. Earlier this year, I released a follow-up book stating that he is governing the United States like some kind of mobster. I believe that this provocative accusation is easy to demonstrate, and I sit here each day watching the Obama administration prove me right.

But I do care about getting facts right, and this business about Obama being born in a foreign country shows reckless disregard of facts. It is time to come back to reality and focus our attention on how Obama is hurting America, not on how he was supposedly born outside of it.

About The Author

David Freddoso

Bio:
David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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