I wrote my first article titled Birthervision in September of 2010. It was about how Birthers view people and events in a special way. This time I want to talk just for a moment about Birthers reading text.
At the outset, let me be clear that misreading text, reading it to say what you think it should say rather than what it really says, is nothing specific to birthers. You will see words left out in my writing that I believe are actually there when I proofread the story, even after I’ve proofread it twice! So while I’m using commenter John as an example, I don’t mean to pick on him or to say that he’s any more prone to reading bias than someone else.
In a comment, John mentioned that he had gone to a school library and read an article on presidential eligibility from a reference work on the US Constitution. Here’s what he said initially:
[The book] notes that only a “Natural Born” citizen can be president. However, the book left reader with a disclaimer and a warning. Does Natural Born Citizen mean simply being born in the country or does Natural Born Citizen mean being born in the country of US Citizens. The book did not claim to make an affirmative answer either way.
We then went into a discussion about exactly which book he was reading. To his credit, John went back to the library, got the exact title and I presume reviewed the article again, writing here:
In this book, the author makes a mention of “Natural Born Citizen” regarding Article II Section 1 of the eligibility of the POTUS.
The author maintains that meaning of “Natural Born Citizen” is not defined in the Constitution and intent of the words was unclear. The author leaves you with a question – does NBC mean simply born in the US or does is it mean born on US soil to parents who US citizens.
What John said, after viewing the book reference twice, was essentially the same. The problem is the book says something different, as I discovered on a trip to my local library. So there will be is no “he said, I said” on this, I took a photo of The Constitution and its Amendments with my cell phone camera.
Let me repeat John’s version:
[D]oes NBC mean simply born in the US or does is it mean born on US soil to parents who US citizens.
and the actual version:
Does [NBC] refer to persons born on American soil, or to persons born to American parents?
Nowhere does the book offer the option John remembered, “born on US soil to parents who US citizens,” rather it offers the options separately: a President might gain eligibility from place birth and might gain eligibility from their parents. I will fault the article for its wording since no authority denies the presidency to someone born a citizen on American soil. It is only those born overseas to US Citizen parents where some doubt remains.
So I urge Birthers in particular (because they are the ones whose theories fly in the face of all consensus authority) to read and reread their sources until they have excluded the possibility that they are reading things that really aren’t there.