Hawaii’s new governor, Neil Abercrombie, said last month that he wants to put to rest once and for all the questions and claims that “birther” conspiracy theorists have raised about where President Barack Obama was born.

Hawaii’s new governor, Neil Abercrombie, said last month that he wants to put to rest once and for all the questions and claims that “birther” conspiracy theorists have raised about where President Barack Obama was born.


“Birtherism,” as it is called, started out during the 2008 presidential campaign as the brainchild of a disappointed supporter of Hillary Clinton. However, the cause soon was taken up by a vocal fringe of conservatives who simply refuse to believe, despite all available evidence and documentation, that the president really was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. To them, Obama is not a “natural born citizen” and therefore ineligible to be president.


There are some birthers who will allow that Obama may have been born in Hawaii, but they hold to a legal theory of citizenship under which both parents must be citizens in order for their child to be “natural born.” It does not appear that any U.S. court, to put it kindly, is likely to be convinced of their theory, though.


Most birthers, however, claim Obama was born in Kenya. They have alleged that his step-grandmother said she was there at his birth in Kenya. (In fact she was referring to the birth of his same-named father.)


They also say Obama’s published birth certificate is or could be a forgery — even claiming that his birth certificate isn’t a birth certificate at all, but merely a “certificate of live birth” (otherwise known as, ahem, a “birth certificate”). Never mind that the document is legal and properly notarized.


They demand that he release the original registration of his birth that is on file in the Hawaii state archives, and they engage in circular reasoning to argue that his failure to release it means he knows he isn’t really a natural born citizen.


Even less plausibly, they say the two Honolulu newspaper birth announcements were placed in the newspaper by Obama’s family to cover up the “real” circumstances of his birth. In fact those newspapers merely published the list of births they had obtained from the department of public health, which in turn had obtained the information about Obama’s birth from a form submitted by the hospital.


Abercrombie was friends with Obama’s parents and finds the birther claims very troubling, so he is looking into what can be done to authorize the release Obama’s original birth registration.


You see, under Hawaii state law (as in other states), birth records are subject to privacy laws. Not even Obama himself is allowed to have his original birth registration.


If Abercrombie wants to release the original birth registration, he would have to get the Hawaiian legislature to change the law that ensures the privacy of all state birth records. I sympathize with his concerns, and like him I find the persistent irrationality of the birthers annoying. But I don’t think he should go to so much trouble.


For one thing, it’s not a good idea to lower privacy protections just so we can tell the birthers, “See? It says he was born in Honolulu, just like on his birth certificate!”


Even more, it would be an exercise in futility. “Answer not a fool according to his folly,” the biblical proverb says. Anyone who can’t be convinced by the birth certificate and newspaper birth announcements is not going to be convinced by the original birth registration. A birther would just claim that document is fake, like they said about the other documented legal and genealogical proof.


Probably the best response to birtherism is to ignore it (though it is in Obama’s political interest to encourage it). If you’re going to respond, though, it should be to remind birthers that the burden of proof is on them. If they deny the authenticity of Obama’s birth records and claim he was born outside the U.S., then let them produce solid evidence, testimony and documentation.


To be sure, I believe criticism of Obama’s policies and performance, and questions about his qualifications, experience and temperament, are warranted. But I’ve yet to find one good reason to doubt, let alone deny, his constitutional eligibility.


Jared Olar may be reached at jolar@pekintimes.com.