One widespread conspiracy meme is the belief that Barack Obama, The president of the United States, was not born in America and is therefore not qualified to hold the position of president.
Even with the release of an official birth certificate, people who believe this theory (“birthers” or “truthers”) still seem to have trouble believing that the president was born in the U.S. A majority of people who support this claim are (not shockingly) not supports of Obama. People try to spin the U.S. Constitution to support their claim with reasons that Obama is not qualified to be in office. This meme is exemplified on obamaisnotqualified.com, a site written by a guy named Jim who’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim and his supporters do not believe that Obama’s birth certificate legitimates his qualifications to be president. While he does not give very much information about his demographics, Jim uses a chart with constitutional terms as evidence. He also different fonts, colors, and bold, CAPS and underlines to emphasize his points. He encourage you to go to peaceful protests, call representatives, and make donations to help further his cause.
This group is exercising Blackmore’s (1999) theory of memetics “a theory must lead to testable predictions that turn out to be correct” (p. 9). The people that are supporting this theory are predicting that Obama was not actually born in the U.S. and that his birth certificate has been faked. While these are testable predictions, they have not been released to the public yet if they have been found to be true.
Other sites claim that Obama has committed many crimes, one of which is providing the citizens with a fake birth certificate, which also supports their theory that he does not have a justified place as our president. The site, http://obamacrimes.com/ goes into detail about many of the crimes that the president has been accused of. The writer of this site, Dr. Philip Berg, is a lawyer who has filed a lawsuit against President Obama challenging his “constitutional eligibility” to be president. This site lists many crimes that have been brought up against our president. Similarly to the previous site, Dr. Berg uses bold, CAPS and underlines to emphasize his points. He also calls for donations to support his lawsuit and “expose” Obama and his crimes.
Goertzel (2011) explain the actions of theorist like Dr. Berg by saying, “Conspiracy theorists typically overlook lapses in logic and evidence by their supporters, but they are quick to pounce on any flaw on the part of their opponents” (p. 3). Don’t these theorists think that there was research done on Obama’s birth place before he was brought into office? Some may think that people who believe this theory have over analyzed the facts of President Obama’s background without stopping to think about what they are accusing him of doing.
There are countless lists that give the reasons that Obama’s birth certificate is fake. People believe that it was made on Photoshop or a similar program. Mr. Conservative.com is a site that posts articles and lists that support conservative ideals. While the demographics of the people that use the site were unclear, it was stated that many people who identify with these conservative values log on and comment on the articles. This list is spun to support the theory that Obama’s birth certificate is fake. There are no direct suggestions of what actions to take, the page is mostly likely to be read by people do not support Obama and his political campaign. The group has attempted research about his high school classmates, neighbors, and found proof that his father had a child in Kenya.
With further research I found that Cyrus Massoumi, a Marin native and student at College of Marin is the guy behind Mrconservative.com. Massoumi is quoted in the article I read saying that he does not actually care about politics and that he and his co founders created this website for the money. He takes top news stories and changes them so they have a conservative connotation and are appealing to his readers. This is an interesting source because Massoumi is exposing a meme that he may or may not believe. By doing this, he is giving others information that could be accurate or inaccurate.
These sources seem to be group efforts that are raising money and awareness about Obama’s “wrong doings”. They want to expose him and encourage people to contact their legislature and “prevent further harm in this country”. There seem to be a varying number of reasons that people want to believe this particular theory. As discussed in Jonathan Kay’s book, Among the Truthers, it is hypothesized that people who have discriminatory feelings towards Obama because of his race, religion, and political viewpoints turn to this idea as a reason that he should not be in office. This meme fits in with many others about Obama including that he is a Socialist and that he planned to confiscate guns.
Susan Blackmore (1999). The Meme Machine. London: Oxford University Press.
Ted Goertzel (2011) “The conspiracy meme,” Skeptical Inquirer, 35(1).
Jonathan Kay (2012). Among the Truthers: A Journey through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground. New York: Harpercollins.