Today’s “birthers,” are no more offensive or weird than those who believe the Bush Administration was complicit in planning the attacks of September 11 or invaded Iraq to increase the profits of defense companies.
It’s become commonplace to roughly equate the birthers with the truthers. And although, as Salter says, birthers are no more offensive or weird than truthers, he fails to point out that birthers are actually less offensive and weird than truthers.
If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look for a moment at what each group is actually alleging, rather than the fact that each group is marginal or weird or paranoid or offensive.
Birthers believe that Obama is lying about a certain fact. Truthers believe that many people within the Bush administration were engaged in a large conspiracy. So the first difference is one involving the number of perpetrators.
Another difference between birthers and truthers is subject matter. Birthers believe that the current President has covered up facts about his birthplace and his parents’ status that would mean he is actually not eligible to be president (and basing this at least in part on his bona fide secrecy about a great many facts of his early life). Truthers believe that President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as well as unspecified other members of their administration, either conspired to murder three thousand innocent Americans or at the very least had enough advance information to stop their murders and instead chose to let the murders proceed in order to increase their own power and to advance their geopolitical interests.
Thus we see that the magnitude and degree of the offenses involved are not even remotely comparable. The birthers are alleging Obama committed an offense that is a technicality; a serious transgression to be sure, but one mainly involving the fudging (or hiding) of some papers in order to advance his political career. Such an act would be duplicitous, illegal, and profoundly wrong. But, to use a criminal analogy, it would be something in the nature of a white-collar crime.
The truthers are alleging that Bush, Cheney, and an unspecified number of people in their administration either committed or knowingly allowed the mass murder of their own country’s citizens on an enormous scale, the greatest act of terrorism in our history. Not only would that be a crime against humanity, it would be a crime perpetrated against Americans by their own leaders. Such an act would be in the nature of the darkest evil of which the human soul is capable, worthy of a Nuremberg-type trial and execution for war crimes.
The two sets of allegations are hardly equivalent, and speaking of them as though they balance each other out on some sort of scale of paranoid fringe beliefs is a nothing less than a moral outrage.