Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Birthers," and the Disordered Soul

The Economist weighs in with some interesting commentary regarding President Obama's birth certificate.
A large number of Americans simply believe, at a gut level, that Barack Obama is so far outside of the mainstream to be un-American. They are invested in this idea and, in the same way folks watch Fox News or MSNBC, they seek out information that confirms their opinion, while ignoring contradictory evidence. Witness the odd dismissal of Mr Obama's short-form birth certificate, a document accepted by the State Department. Or the popularity of fanciful stories about Mr Obama's birth in Kenya and secretive journey back to America (because his parents knew he would one day be president!). As David P. Redlawsk of Rutgers University wrote recently in the New York Times, "Feelings come first, and evidence is used mostly in service of those feelings. Evidence that supports what is already believed is accepted, that which contradicts it is not."
The Economist seems to be mixing up different issues.  The "large number" of Americans who believe that President Obama is "so far outside of the American mainstream to be un-American," may believe it for good reasons, in their heads, as well as for visceral ones in their "guts."  The President fairly epitomizes the anti-Americanism of Continental socialists, the 60's generation, liberationist black churches, and Ivy League academics.  His Presidency is the culmination of the long march through the institutions, a march with the purpose of destroying America's system of political economy.  As President, he has bowed to foreign dictators, received the compliments of America's enemies, rolled the middle class and opportunistically imposed a social welfare agenda on the country without popular support.  President Obama has followed his party's custom of purchasing votes with redistributed dollars, and fostered a culture of dependence.  All of this cuts against the American grain.  The media convinced Americans with eight years of perpetual harping, attacking, disrespect bordering on treason and the pharisaical rending of garments, that they hated George Bush.  The didn't convince anyone to pine for the return of Jimmy Carter.  

That is not tantamount to denying that President Obama was born in Hawaii, which is a separate issue.  He has proven that his mother gave birth to him in Hawaii.  He has shown, however, that he is a disaffected malcontent harboring a grudge against political concepts he mistakes for America's failings, in whose name he feels compelled to apologize whenever and wherever.  This makes people doubt his Americanism.  (Love of country is still a virtue here; and criticism of everything it does is not yet considered a sincere expression of it.) Their hackles are further raised by the realization that this typical, "well-educated," and capable anti-American is a man with (1) a plan for redressing the evils he attributes to America, (2) a thespian prowess that enables him to preach shared sacrifice while he picks your pocket, and (3) the grace and charm to pull it off politically--with the invaluable help of a protective media that covers for his follies while it scours for dirt on his opponents.

People did not trust his short-form evidence for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that he is not trustworthy.  He is a disciple of Saul Alinsky who preached that the ends of power justify the means, any means.  To reiterate, he says one thing and does another; he postures as a patriot and acts like a traitor; he is too clever by half, and too smooth by even more; he assumed the Presidency under crisis conditions and proceeded to use Americans' fear and desperation as an "opportunity" to impose a foreign agenda on domestic soil.  (Americans are not Continentals, and don't want to be.)  In short, they don't trust his intentions, and fear the competence with which he and his czars are sapping America of its strength.  That is the deeper significance of the controversy. The President is widely distrusted for presenting himself as what he is not: a freedom loving, free-market patriot.  As the Economist points out, his place of birth simply became proxy for a deep distrust.  Unlike the Economist, Noman believes that this distrust is warranted, and may prove life-saving.

With respect to David P. Redlawsk's thesis, Noman found it highly indicative of 21st Century social discourse.  Moreover, it reminded Noman of an observation he made decades ago while studying law at Harvard--at the same time, incidentally, as a seemingly thoughtful classmate named Barack Obama.  (In case you're wondering, Noman thought better of him then, before he moved on to the Chicago finishing school for young radicals.)  The observation was that American law, and its political uses, exhibited the disease of a disordered soul.  In classical (philosophical) anthropology, the intellect leads the will, or rational appetite.  Reason serves to guide desire; deliberation and judgment precede choice in human action.  Departures from this natural operation of the person's soul, or psyche, can only lead to deformed beings. Modern law--from the legal realists, forward--on the contrary, manifested nothing so much as the will on a rampage, with reason serving only to justify positions already reached before intellection had informed volition.  Such is the nature of prejudice and bigotry, which the left has always projected onto the middle class it hates.  This disorder struck Noman as dangerous then, and does even more so now.  In human nature, reason is the will's protection against being swallowed up by the passions.  Having rejected the role of reason, the post-modernists so fashionable on campuses in the 80's and 90's ushered in a bastard offspring: citizens of uninstructed feelings who utilize evidence in support of unconsidered "beliefs."  Barack Obama, our head-swiveling, teleprompter-reading, finger-wagging posturer-in-chief, is at once the paragon and paladin of this new emotive class, whether it is ultimately for him or against him.  Should this type of person choose to insist against all evidence that the President was born elsewhere, he  merely reaps what his party has sown for generations.

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