conspiracyThe “Birther movement,” is a collection of folks who are convinced that Barack Obama was born in Africa and therefore is not an American citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president of the United States and therefore is not the legitimate president and,  come to think of it, just how can we be sure that he’s not from another galaxy?

Even professional paranoid G. Gordon Liddy has weighed in on the issue, suggesting on Chris Matthews’ show, “Hardball” that Obama’s mother, wanting her son to be an American citizen, somehow managed to have a birth certificate and birth announcement appear in Hawaii, thousands of miles away from his actual birthplace in Africa. Like his Birther compatriots, he never actually says that Obama was born in Kenya but produces doubtful evidence and challenges Obama to prove his nativity. For Birthers, the possibility, no matter how outlandish, is enough.

Those of us who actually live full time on this planet have considerable difficulty making sense of this issue. I would posit that there are two factors are at work here: a world view that lends itself to paranoid ideation and helpless rage. Racism is likely to be a factor, but that is harder to pin down.

I recently wrote regarding those poor souls who think Michael Jackson is still alive, that “Conspiracy theorists share some common beliefs: nothing is as it seems, nothing happens randomly, there are dark forces too clever for us to detect, and the lack of evidence of the conspirators is proof of their evil cunning. Conspiracy theorists are adept at seeing connections between events that escape the rest of us.  Conspiracy theorists feel sorry for us mere mortals who are too blind to see the Truth. Conspiracy theorists know that the simplest, most likely explanations for an event are never true because that’s what they want you to believe.” I would add that in spite of their cynicism and general distrust of others, conspiracy theorists believe that conspirators, whether they are many or few, can keep a secret from the media and the rest of us for decades. In fact, we know that there are relatively few real secrets in this country, other than the location of Mick Jagger’s Dorian Gray portrait.

The second issue, helpless rage, is what fuels the Birther movement. If these people were only fatalistically resigned to the fact that Obama fairly won the election, they would do what most of us do: grumble, complain, criticize and maybe even organize political opposition and vote.  Instead, they scream and attack. Their fury is a tantrum.

We will likely have to listen to this nonsense for the next three years and you can be sure that many of the Birthers will not relinquish their bizarre opinion, because some people are only happy when they’re angry and fighting.  There will never be enough evidence to prove to them that Obama is an authentic American. Unfortunately, theirs is the least American attitude.