In the middle of the day I received an email from my parents. It featured the most recent (I think!) conspiracy theory about Obama's Birth Certificate and the various discrepancies proving he is not a US born citizen. I tried to ignore the message but eventually surrendered to my impulse for truth and responded by debunking all the claims within. (For those that are aficionados of the genre, it is the message that features the three challenges to the most recent birth certificate released.) I didn't even need snopes! Still, I doubt it will change anyone's belief that Obama is a usurper and has achieved the presidency through enchantments and charismatic flim-flam.
But this email message, and its odd timing considering we are almost at the end of the first term of the Obama Presidency, have me wondering about the connection with the recent (re)surgence of Newt, the Republican Id in pasty white man form. Hmm, I think I was redundant there.
Anyway, my parents are long-time conservatives and it is, I imagine, a great embarrassment to them that I became liberal in my 20s. So from time to time they attempt to engage me and change my leanings. At least, I suspect that is there motive. It is a frustrating experience for us both. But at its core I think it speaks to their experience and desires, the very experience and desires that caused me to reject conservatism. And its most simplistic that can be explained as: fear the other. The other is anyone that differs from you and has concluded that life can be lived differently than you do. The other is a threat. They reject your order, your values, your superiority and as such, they must be ostracized and if need be, destroyed. It does not matter if the other actually does embrace your values. In fact, there is nothing the other can ever do to persuade you they are not the other.
And Barack Obama is the other.
No matter what he does, no matter his values, no matter his policies, he will always be unacceptable. 3 years of presidential material and hardcore conservatives still want to discuss his birth certificate.
He is Dr. Huxtable. To conservatives he will always be Tupac.
And because of this, and Fox News stoking these fears of the other, I cannot have a political discussion with my parents.