Jonathan Zimmerman: Donald Trump, the 'Birthers,' and the GOP's Moment of TruthRoundup: Historians' Take
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory.
The Internet can be a scary place. Troll some of its darker corners, and you’ll find plenty of people who think that George W. Bush knew about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks before they happened. The Israelis were supposedly tipped off, too: That’s why Jews went to work late that day. And so on.
Now imagine that one of these conspiracy theorists announced that he was running for president. And suppose further that many other candidates and leading party figures said they didn’t believe the 9/11 plot, but that others were free to make up their own minds.
We would be outraged, of course. In the face of a fantastic lie, simply stating a personal preference – and leaving it at that – gives indirect confirmation to the lie itself. It becomes a matter of taste, like one’s favorite color or flavor of ice cream.
That’s the dirty little game that many Republicans have been playing with the so-called “birther” screed, which holds that President Obama was born in a foreign country or otherwise is not a “natural born citizen,” making him ineligible to be president. And they could get away with it, because no GOP presidential hopeful had personally endorsed the birther idea....
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump visits the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- New Book Says Bob Woodward Burned Hillary Clinton’s Ghostwriter
- For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings.
- In a Walt Whitman Novel, Lost for 165 Years, Clues to ‘Leaves of Grass’
- Veteran Congressman Still Pushing for Reparations in a Divided America
- Historian and Antiwar Activist Marilyn Young Dies at 79
- Trump Chooses Historian H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser
- Holocaust Historian Deborah Lipstadt Explains Why People Believe Trump's Lies
- Princeton’s Harold James warns World War Three is now a "serious threat”
- Israeli schools' history lessons create good soldiers, says pundit