Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Birther Report has an article just up titled, “University of Virginia Psychologist: Birthers Racially Tinged Conspiracy Theories Paint Obama As A Usurper.” They take great umbrage at what they see as an attempt to label all birthers racist. Their incredulity at that outrageous claim can be seen in this comment:
Guest: There is nothing mysterious or racist about BHO identity questions. Why? EVERYWHERE you look you find fraud of one type or another. This isn’t rocket science guys. You have to be brain dead or an obot not to know that he’s operating under a fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card. The list is endless.
I tried to make a response to that, but I have no hope that the commenter will grok what I was trying to say:
You don’t get it.
To most people there is no “fake name, fake BC, fake SS#, fake Sel. Serv. card”. They look at that stuff and see nobodies on the Internet pretending to be experts and spinning wildly implausible theories requiring up a conspiracy of massive proportions (including the administration, the Congress, the news media, the courts and the State of Hawaii), a conspiracy orders of magnitude bigger than any real conspiracy in history. If they bother to look into the details (and few do) they find a tissue of suspicions that falls apart under scrutiny. They see theories held almost exclusively by ideological opponents of Obama and his party. They see folks using terms like DemoRat and Libtard. They see nothing credible.
When they see a group maligning the President, and see no justification for it, they wonder why it’s happening. Racism is part of it; hatred of progressives is part of it; general tendencies to see conspiracies in clouds is part of it, smear peddling for monetary gain is part of it.
You think that with all the facts, no one can fault the birthers for their beliefs. Others think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the birthers for misreading the evidence.
But I didn’t write this article to display my ineffectual attempt at creating an “aha” moment in a birther. What I want to do is to call attention to the Mother Jones article that got the birthers so upset. It’s title, “Black Lives Matter” Aspires to Reclaim the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” doesn’t give the reader a hint about that I found most interesting in the story. It’s not so much about the police shootings of black men, or Dr. King. What is interesting is unconscious racism.
BR picked out the same quote that I did from the lengthy article, although I will copy here just the last part of it:
There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek. […] “But biased results can still occur.”
Birthers don’t realize that it is their biases (conscious or otherwise) that cause them to look at claims of Obama misdeeds with less than adequate scrutiny and to close their eyes to the obvious objections that could be raised against them.