By Juan Williams, ,
Published May 07, 2015
Did Whoppi play the race card on Wednesday? Yes, she did. And Whoopi Goldberg announced she was playing it while motioning with her hands as if she had a whole deck of race cards to play.
Whoopi, on ABC’s “The View,” called out the “birthers,” on racism after the morning's dramatic White House news conference and release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. The public display of the document should have ended all doubts: Barack Obama is indeed a natural born citizen of the United States and eligible to be our president.
But Donald Trump, who has been riding the “birther” bandwagon to the front of candidates for GOP nomination for president, still won’t let it go. And he persisted with such slime-ball tactics that he gave Whoopi reason to put the race card squarely on the table.
Trump is now questioning whether the president was smart enough to write a best-selling book. He is asking if Obama is too busy playing basketball to handle the economy. Trump is doubting whether Obama had the grades to get Harvard Law School and suggesting he is just an affirmative action token.
It is hard not to see a pattern in these questions. The president is not smart enough to write his own book, he is not smart enough to get into Harvard, and he spends his time playing basketball. The pattern sure looks racial, smells racial, and invites Whoopi to call a spade a spade.
Sadly, seeing the president’s long-form birth certificate – he produced the usual short-form three years ago – will not be enough for some of the millions of Americans who tell pollster they don’t believe the president was born in the USA.
Some will undoubtedly believe the long-form birth certificate is another forgery and part of the elaborate conspiracy to conceal the “truth” about the president’s past. Recent polls showed a quarter of all Americans doubting the President was born in the USA. Nearly half of Republicans shared that view and practically everyone in the Tea Party.
How did this mass paranoid delusion get started?
The truth is that this national disgrace was never really about birth certificates or citizenship. It is about the fact that no matter what his policies – and there is a lot to argue with in his policies and leadership style – some people appear to never have accepted a president who is very smart, patriotic, hard-working and a family guy. They cannot accept that he is different from the majority of the American people in terms of his name, his life experience and yes, his race.
In the “birther” mindset, different equals dangerous. They can’t say this out loud because they will then be called out for naked racism. So they have stoked doubt about the president’s birth certificate, speaking in coded language and tacitly indulging the race-baiting.
And too many Republican officials saw political advantage in feeding the fire. They have repeatedly and sadly refused to condemn this contemptible and un-American behavior.
House Speaker John Boehner, the leading Republican in Washington, let the mob have its way: “It is not my job to tell the American people what to think,” he said.
And others top Republicans and talk show hosts have winked and kept a sly smile, while asking why is it such a big deal for the president to produce the long-form of his birth certificate.
That disgraceful coded language led many Americans down the path of disparaging, even disliking the president on the basis of innuendo.
Reverend Jesse Jackson is no friend to President Obama. During the 2008 campaign, Jackson was famously caught off-microphone saying the president was “talking down to black people” and that he wanted to “cut his n-ts off.”
However, Jackson had it essentially right when he told Politico yesterday that "Any discussion of his birthplace is a code word. ..It calls upon ancient racial fears."
Marc Morial, the president of the Urban League and the former mayor of New Orleans mayor, blasted Trump in an interview with Politico, "There's a lot of people that I've talked to [who] instinctively think that he's using the issue as a proxy for race...I don't know if it has resonance in the Republican Party but I certainly think it has resonance in certain far right elements of the American public."
"It's like a modern day Salem witch trial -- because there's no merit to it," Morial contended.
And South Carolina Democrat Rep. James Clyburn, the highest ranking African-American in Congress, likened the birther controversy to Jackie Robinson's experience in Major League Baseball. He told USA Today Thursday, that Obama "has not put the issue to bed...all he did was lay out the truth for everyone to see."
The last fig leaf of doubt about the president’s birth certificate was pulled away on Wednesday. Donald Trump and the birthers now have to make a decision about what they will do from here and what the consequences of that decision will be -- not just for them politically but for the health of the country.
It is up to them whether they chose to accept the authenticity of the long-form birth certificate and move on from this dark period in our recent political history. Maybe we should ask for their birth certificates and question their patriotism if they fail to abandon this myth once and for all.
Juan Williams is a writer, author and Fox News political analyst. His most recent book is "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It."