“The Treason of Images” is one of the translations of the title of a painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. For some reason that image came to me during lunch today and I thought of its application to the blog. [If the reader is not familiar with the work, now might be a good time to follow the preceding link to the Wikipedia article to see it.] I might adapt Magritte:
The famous birth certificate. How people reproached me for it! And you, could have you gotten a passport with my birth certificate? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a birth certificate,” I’d have been lying!
Birthers seem confused about the difference between an object and a representation of it, a photo of it in the case of Obama’s birth certificate. No one in real life confuses the two. You cannot get wet looking at a photo of Niagara falls, but no one complains about this. They don’t curse the image for its dryness. Still birthers get all upset that Obama put a photo of his birth certificate on the White House web site, as if one could put a piece real of paper on the web somehow. (Obama’s attorney did show the actual certified copy—what one calls a birth certificate—to the press who handled it and photographed it. One could get a passport with something like that.)