Where did “Born in Africa” Start? (Part 1)

Birther Fossil

Blog Fossil

[Note: this article contains a number of early birther references, but I believe that the authoritative answer to the question is found in Loren Collins’ paper: The Secret Origins of Birtherism.]

There are any number of groups whose special interest would be better served by a president other than Barack Obama.

  • Conservatives
  • Right-wing extremists
  • Anti-abortion activists
  • Anti-gay activists
  • Gun activists
  • Anti-Muslim activists
  • White Racists
  • Pro-Israel activists
  • Hillary supporters

Is it one, two, more or all of the above? It’s of no value labeling entire groups with anything. But in an attempt to track down where the rumors start, I keep running into partisans in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that is where the real value is in selecting the US president or crippling a president they don’t like. Israel Insider, a pro-Israel web site has been a proponent of Obama rumors and misinformation, but not only a proponent, but an early source. Consider, for example, the claim that Obama’s birth certificate was forged.

The Obama COLB appeared on the Daily KOS web site on June  12, 2008 and within just 9 days, israelinsider published the story that it was a forgery, saying:

But some who have examined that image in high resolution claim inconsistencies and irregularities which suggest that the purported document is a forgery. Its high profile use by the campaign, they claim, suggests an attempt to conceal the truth of Obama’s birth circumstances and citizenship qualifications from the American people.

Note that israelinsider gives no clue who these examiners are.

In another early report (June 24, 2008), two months before Berg’s lawsuit against Obama, we see already mention of Obama possibly being born in Kenya on israelinsider.

Even though Geraghy notes that Obama “initially refused to provide his birth certificate,” he has suggested that it is “rather unlikely” that Obama was born in Kenya, since it would require that the candidate and his family do a lot of lying. In fact, there were reports of Kenyati relatives claiming he was born there, and there is the mysterious disappearance of his grandmother, who may indeed know something about this subject.

But wait! Who is Geraghy? On the day before the COLB appeared on the Daily KOS web site (remember the release of the birth certificate was supposed to “clear up all questions” — take note you who think another birth certificate will clear up all questions) Sean Hannity at Fox News was saying on his blog:

Jim Geraghty, reporting on the Campaign Spot, cited the “unlikely” but still circulating rumor that Obama was born not within the United States, but elsewhere, possibly Kenya.

Geraghty defined the concerns most clearly, stating: “If Obama were born outside the United States, one could argue that he would not meet the legal definition of natural-born citizen … because U.S. law at the time of his birth required his natural-born parent (his mother) to have resided in the United States for ’10 years, at least [f]ive of which had to be after the age of 16.'”

Note: this was written before bloggers changed the Constitution to require natural born citizens to have two citizen parents and be born in the United States. Geraghty is on the right track, although the age is 14, not 16.

Fox News? No wait! Fox News got this story from Public Enemy Number One: WorldNetDaily! on June 10. Now this is rich:

Geraghty said the Obama campaign could “debunk” the rumors about his birth simply by releasing a copy of his birth certificate, but the campaign has so far chosen not to do that.

Two days later, the Obama campaign released a copy of his birth certificate. That only started a cottage industry of doubters.

Geraghty published his article on a National Review Blog: Campaign Spot, June 9 3BC (3 days before COLB)  and this is the source of the WorldNetDaily story, picked up by Sean Hannity. But Geraghty is not the source, because he himself links to a Snopes.com message of a “new” story of Obama born in Kenya! That message dates way back to April 21:

Today, we have a new matter before us. There is an article out today on the internet that says that Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy.

She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so she Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth.

Obama is not eligible to be the President of the United States of America. This may not be proven in the next few days, but I am sure it will be proven before the General Election.

The DNC and the elite of the Democratic party should respect Hillary and not force her off the ballot. If they do, we may not even have a viable candidate.

I’m sure all this can be proven, by hospital documents and witnesses. It will take time, but Obama is not a legitimate U. S. citizen. He has citizenship established in Kenya, where he is recorded as Arab-African.

What is curious about the story on the Snopes message board is that there is no source for the story or where it appered on the Internet. One Snopes commenter who couldn’t find it asked for the source, but there was no reply.

Dig, dig, dig…

This question was asked by “Baby E”  on Yahoo Answers and labeled “10 months ago” which hits in April:

Obama was born in Kenya. Obama can’t be President. Can Obama supporters sue for their money back?

Looks like I found an early source for the Obama is a Muslim and his middle name is Muhammed. It’s two Christian missionaries in Kenya in an email circulating since March 2008.

What we would like you to know is what the american press has been keeping a dirty little secret. Obama IS a muslim and he IS a racist and this is a fullfilllment of the 911 threat that was just the beginning. Jihad is the only true muslim way. We have been working with them for 20 years this july! He is not an american as we know it. Please encourage your friends and associates not to be taken in by those that are promoting him. It is world wide jihad. All our friends in Europe are very disturbed by the mulsim infiltration into their countries. By the way. His true name is Barak Hussein Muhammed Obama. Won’t that sound sweet to our enemies as they swear him in on the Koran! God Bless you.

Ah, but not born in Kenya. Must have jumped too far back…

This is a cool article: The Wingnut Smear Machine at Work from June 2008.

One might argue the Obama campaign ought to just release the mystery birth certificate to put the rumors to rest. But you know that would just set off a new round of rumors. Some rightie blogger would question the authenticity of the birth certificate, and that very evening Sean Hannity would look into a Faux Nooz camera and intone, why did Barack Obama release a forged birth certificate? Questions are being asked, after all.

Velvet Hammer was calling for a Birth Certificate in March 2008, but the one article I found didn’t specifically suggest a Kenyan Birth.

Wait, Mahalo (nice site, by the way) says it goes back to 2007:

In 2007, rumors began that Obama was born in Kenya, and may not legally be a natural-born citizen. As pointed out in the National Review, if this is true then Obama and his relatives have been lying about his birthplace for most of his life. All official accounts point to Obama’s birth taking place in Hawaii, one of the 50 United States.

Alas, no reference to a web site where the story appeared.

To be continued…

About Dr. Conspiracy

I'm not a real doctor, but I have a master's degree.
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26 Responses to Where did “Born in Africa” Start? (Part 1)

  1. A. Kibitzer says:

    There is no more ‘conspiracy’ to the birthers than there is among the usual suspects of the “paranoid style in American politics”. Among those who decry chemtrails, fluoridation of drinking water, the government cover-up of UFO’s, and other playgrounds of the deluded, you will often find ultra-far-right fingerprints, but that’s not unusual.

    There are likely those who are more or less horrified that President Obama’s father and step-father were Muslim as there those who can’t fathom that someone with darker skin than usual has been elected president. Of course, among those bothered by his father’s religion, you will find some that support the Israeli right-wing. But that’s not particularly surprising, nor does it make for much of a conspiracy any more than supposing that all of the mental patients who believe they are Napolean Bonaparte are cooperating with one other.

    They simply share a common delusion for a common reason. That’s all.

  2. myson says:

    I am one of those who has been looking at this site but never commenting. Now is the time. I am a Nigerian & an attorney sine 2000 in Lagos Nigeria (Africa 4 those unaware that we have over 40 countries in Africa)
    I have been following this issues for a while as my son was born Washington DC on June 12 2008 (for medical reasons we came 2 d US 2 have him after trying for 6 long years, We paid the full hospital bill as we’re not US citizens ).
    We processed my son’s US passport & got a Nigerian Visa 2 return him home (i plan 2 get him a Nig passport later so he wont need 2 get a visa everytime we travel & he’s coming back in)
    I’m giving the back ground so it will be understood my interest. I have been waiting for 6 months now 2 heard evidence that Obama or my son isnt NBC but nothing.
    Having gone through all the laws i can find its clear my son like Obama is a natural-born & is entitled 2 the full citizenships rights it accords.
    As an attorney i cant believe the rubbish filed by Berg, rly & others. Even in Nigeria , a 3rd world country, the ‘evidence’ the allege is so bad i cant imagine going 2 a LAW court with it. half truths, speculation etc its unbelievable. I shall be comment henceforth

  3. Expelliarmus says:

    Congratulations on the birth of your son. You are right — under US law your son is a “Natural born citizen” — if you go to the “bookmarks” page of this site and look under “Citizenship” you will find some wonderful links that explain why.

    The Constitution does require more than just natural born citizenship to be President — the candidate also has to have lived 14 years in the US (as well as being at least age 35).

    No person except a natural born Citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

    This is something that has not been discussed much, but I think its an important part– so your son’s future depends in part on where he chooses to live as an adult.

  4. myson says:

    Thanks. I just a bit upset with the smears against Obama. When he began his run, i didnt support him as i didnt believe he could win (i honestly didnt [think] america was ready for a non-white presido, I was not ready also).I was in the US in june/july 2008 when d price of gas was $4.08 per gallon (MD, VA & DC areas) everyone around then still didnt think he could get it. it was only in Aug 08 that i started believing in him so when this lies/half truths became prominent i followed it earnestly i wanted him 2 win but i had doubt he get . when i returned home in july every1 was asking if there’s a buzz around him I said Yes but ……i didnt not support a clinton for the sole reason that USA is to great a nation 2 have bben ruled by just 2 families in 20years, that stuff happens in africa & other backward nations it shd not happen in the US.
    I like most African is very conservative -bornagain xtian & like- but i cant see that the last so called ‘conservative’ govt did a lot of harm 2 the USA & its believes(I watched the film Rendition last night, if the US did half of what the film then the US is on the same level with 3rd world countries in Africa). I KNOW the USA is one of the greatest nations on earth (in Africa we call it God’s own country) so i wanted for american the best presido it could get in 2008 & that was OBAMA.
    I should add the the term ‘son of the soil’ means we have ADOPTED u as one of our own mostly u have brought Honor & , so everywhere in Africa Obama is a son of the soil. Bill Clinton is also regarded as a son in many parts of Africa

  5. myson says:

    I do a lot of texting so if my spelling is [not] accurate forgive me . When i write fast it becomes texting format but my pleadings are different i take time to go over such. Blogging i have fun

  6. I regret that with this blogging software, there is no way for commenters to fix mistakes after they are submitted.

    By all means, have fun! Maybe I will fix a word 4u sometimes.

  7. Hi myson,

    I am most happy to see you join the conversation.

  8. bogus info says:


    Your statement: “I should add the the term ’son of the soil’ means we have ADOPTED u as one of our own mostly u have brought Honor & , so everywhere in Africa Obama is a son of the soil. Bill Clinton is also regarded as a son in many parts of Africa”

    Dr. Orly Taitz made a big deal of this statement as “evidence President Obama was born in Kenya.” Would you object if I posted this part of your comment to The Right Side of Life?

  9. myson says:

    No objection as its very commonly used phrase

  10. Patrick McKinnion says:

    One more to add to your list – Pamela Geller of “Atlas Shrugs”. She’s a hard-right Jewish woman who’s been pimping a lot of the conspiracy theories on her site, (and was one of the people who vouched for “TechDude”. I think she’s still supporting him for that matter)

  11. Unlike the true conspiracy theorist, I might speculate on a conspiracy, but I need some evidence before I’d believe it. Nevertheless, there might be a conspiracy (whether large or small, well-organized or loosely cooperative) to fabricate and communicate smears about Obama. The Obama FightTheSmears web site points out some of the same faces appearing in campaigns against Clinton, Kerry and Obama.

    In any case, I’ve changed the title of the article.

  12. A. Kibitzer says:

    Agreed. The original title was a tad inflammatory to the sarcasm impaired.

  13. bogus info says:

    Dr. C. and Myson,

    Help me out here. I want to post a link to Dr. Orly’s article regarding the comments regarding “son of the soil”. How would be the best way to do this? Post Orly’s link to the article then the link to this article here with attention called to Myson’s comment? I’m going to post this on Phil’s blog, The Right Side of Life.

  14. Kelly says:

    OMG – I am sooo glad I found this site! I have been appalled by what I have read on sights such as plainsradio and the crap they are spewing about Pres. Obama. I am equally appalled that as one born in Tennessee – four of their representatives have just reinforced the idea that all Tennesseans are a little touched by too much inbreeding! My family are all staunch Democrats and even my 92 year old grandmother got out of her hospital bed to go to the polls and vote “for the black man with the D beside his name.” (That’s what she told them when they asked her who she was voting for because she is visually impaired and needed assistance). She knew his name of course, but was making a statement to those small town racists she abhors.

    Anyway, glad to be here and will be reading all of these great articles!

  15. Kelly, glad to have you. Please enjoy your President’s Day!

  16. Bob Weber says:

    Pamela Geller is also the source of the “Malcolm X is Obama’s real father” rumor.

  17. Kelly says:

    I enjoy my President’s Day every day, lol! Wish I could say the same for others in the US. This site is awesome and I have been spending too much time reading it today, but have no intention of stopping.

  18. That’s OK. I spend too much time writing it.

  19. bogus info says:
  20. Beckwith says:

    The rumor that Obama was born in Kenya was started by his step-grandmother, Sarah.

  21. Expelliarmus says:

    I never quite got the Malcolm X rumor…. since Malcolm X was born on Omaha Nebraska, that twist on the story would destroy all the citizenship articles. It seems to be an outgrowth of the pallin’ around with terrorists meme…. but that didn’t work out so well for the McCain campaign in terms of votes, and a parent’s political associations certainly do not disqualify the offspring from running for President.

    In other words… if any of Malcolm X’s known children want to run for President, they clearly are free to do so. (I believe he had 6 daughters, born between 1958-1965).

  22. Hi Beckwith,

    I’d really love a reference to that initial report. It would be the crown jewel of the article.

  23. Cymraeg says:

    THat is false. I have listened to the tape. Grandma clearly states, in response to a question from Rev. MacWhatever as to where Obama II was born, that he was born in Hawaii. You need to listen to the tape yourself (the full version, not the redacted version the birthers have fabricated).

  24. richCares says:

    Grandma tape
    find some comment you can hang on to, forget truth

    Like the “hand raiser” from a U Tube video that proves someone raised their hand and tried to object! wow, a gotcha!

    when viewing the video you see a black man smiling and waving his hand, while people all around are clapping and cheering. The blackman was Al Green a Democrat and supporter of Obama. All cheering the end of the electoral count.

    those people need meds!

    every bit of their evidence is of similar vein

  25. Hitandrun says:

    But Kelly,
    What is House GOP caucus chair Glen Casada’s stated reason?:

    “I know he’s got it (birth certificate). I know he’s an American citizen, but let’s just get this thing out there and let’s put everybody’s mind at ease….Let’s just put this to bed.”

    What do you find ‘appalling’ here?


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