BY JOE INDIANA
The following article was originally published in the Harvard Law Record’s 2010 April Fool’s Day edition and was intended as satire. Many of the comments from birthers that follow, however, are very real.
Harvard Law School librarians made a stunning discovery in a long-sealed chamber in the basement of Langdell Hall Monday night, when they indicated they had found what they believed to be a copy of President Barack Obama’s original certificate of live birth. Individuals who believe the president’s extra-American birth invalidates his presidency rapidly seized on the document as further proof for their claims, flocking to courts to seek injunctions on a number of executive orders and bills recently signed into law, including the vaunted health care reform act. HLS archivists said that the birth certificate was “no doubt” the original copy submitted by the sitting President upon his enrollment in the law school in 1988.
Although copies of the President’s birth certificate have long been posted online and certified by government officials in his home state, many doubt its provenance, claiming that the online document is merely a “certificattion of live birth” rather than a “birth certificate”. Others claim to have seen birth certificates placing Obama’s birth in Mombasa, Kenya (Obama’s father was a Kenyan citizen), or other foreign locations, such as Indonesia, where Obama lived as a child. The President’s political opponents occasionally mock him as a “citizen of the British Empire,” a reference to Kenya’s status in 1961, the year of his birth.
These so-called “birthers” were stunned but unfazed when the Harvard Law School copy of the birth certificate pointed them not to Kenya, Indonesia, or some other site of speculation, but the Pacific Ocean island chain of Hawaii. “I knew it,” wrote blogger ObamaIzaF8ke2273. “Obama was born outside the United States. We just didn’t know exactly where. Until now.”
The Hawaiian Islands, which lack pro sports teams, are literally off the radar screen for many Americans. In the wake of the tsunami warnings issued for the islands after the devastating earthquake in Chile in February, even CNN anchor Rick Sanchez could not locate the islands on a map, instead pointing to the Galapagos, an Ecuadorian possession several hundred nautical miles to the southeast. The fact the Hawaii appears to float in a box next to the lower 48 American states on maps has made the location of the archipelago all the more inscrutable for the U.S.’ geographically-challenged populace.
The islands’ long and complex history also makes their current political status confusing for many Americans, who are not aware of their place in the international system. A National Geographic survey released in 2008 indicated that there was a shocking correlation between those who could not attest to the system of government in Hawaii and those who believed that the government of Alaska conducted an independent foreign policy.
“The evidence is now clear,” wrote a commenter on the influential conservative website RedState.com Wednesday. “Obama is no American. He’s the subject of the Hawaiian king.”