Extraordinary Sacrifices and Self-Promoting Con Men

Baratunde Thurston is the absolute best, and you should just watch this video right now. Baratunde breaks down how humiliating the birther “controversy” is; he says “we have all been debased by this incident.” And he’s absolutely right. Do please watch it if you can. Transcript, via Numol Bites through dopegirlfresh, below the fold.

it’s been a very difficult morning for me. um, got the news that President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, um, due to the increasing media circus surrounding claims that he is not one of us, that he is not an American. and it comes at an interesting time for many reasons — one of which is that it’s April 27th, 2011, and *this just happened*, so that’s… really interesting, to me. also, because i’m reading, right now, a book by Manning Marable — it’s called “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”, and he unearths a lot of amazing detail and correspondence around this exceptional American, and through this book, you also get a window into the Civil Rights Movement throughout this country’s history, especially in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. and you are reminded, if you read this book — or see a documentary special, or know anything about the history of the United States — you’re reminded of the extraordinary level of sacrifice that has been involved in allowing all Americans to exist as, be treated as, participate as *Americans*, to *be that which they are* [laughs, shakes head]. a *lot* of *work*, a lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of death. there were people who dropped out of their ordinary lives — sacrificed their personal safety, their reputation, their ability to earn money — to intervene on behalf of those who they also saw as American. they got on buses in Freedom Rides, they sat in, they *died* in waves and waves of domestic terrorism, so that someone like me could go to a voting booth and not be asked by some racist poll worker to pay a tax, or prove that my grandfather wasn’t a slave, or pass a literacy test which got increasingly difficult the more i might pass it. [pause] and today, the *President of the United States* had to prove that he was an American to the satisfaction of the 75% of Iowa republicans who doubt that, or the 43% of national republicans who doubt that, or the one *heinous, low-class individual* who took credit for it after: Donald Trump. a man who was given every advantage, who inherited millions and lost it all twice, but *had that opportunity* because no one’s ever had to ask him to prove *anything*. a man who lacks intelligence, compassion, common sense, respect, decency, or an understanding of what the *fuck* it means to be an American, that he would come out moments after *the President of the United States* — and i stress that, *the President* — released his long-form birth certificate, and Donald Trump comes out moments later and says, “i’m really proud of myself, *but*… shouldn’t have taken so long. i wanna see the birth certificate for myself. i wanna test it for *authenticity*. i don’t want the press asking me about birth certificates anymore.” [pause] i find it hard to… summarize, in mere words, the amount of pain and rage this incident has caused. it’s… *humiliating* — not just to Barack Obama, not just to the office of the President, not just to black Americans who died and those who supported our quest for freedom… it’s embarassing to the *entire nation*, that we would sit and *let this happen*. [shaking his head] we have *all* been debased by this incident — by a charlatan, by a con man, by a mere *promoter of himself*. and for him to take credit for this, and for him to *revel in it*, and yet… and still not be satisfied, makes him no better than a klansman, no better than a Bull Connor, no better than an anonymous privileged white man in the 1950s who — regardless of his position in society — knew his position was higher than that of a common nigger. and that is what the fuck Donald Trump has done… to the *President of the United States*. to the *office* of the President of the United States. to me, and to you. i am *disgusted*, i have cried, because i know my ancestors paid a very high price, and never… would never have imagined that we might have the President that we do. but certainly part of their joy, in the ancestral celestial skies right now, has been greatly diminished by what has happened here today. i hope that eventually — not just in the post-mortal world of karma and spiritual justice — Mr. Trump pays an exceptional price. i hope that price comes during his life. [pause] to then be able to walk around a super-free, super-white, super-privileged man, lording over all who would pay attention — which is far too many — at what you have done… has got to cost you something in this life as well. [shaking his head and laughing] i don’t wanna hear about “The Apprentice”, i don’t wanna hear about your new cologne, i don’t wanna hear about the new tower you’re building in whatever fucking town. [pauses, shaking his head] that cologne smells of racism, that tower is built on the blood of disrespected slaves and freedom fighters, and that show is merely a showcase… for the dishonor you have brought upon anyone who would call themselves an American. [pause] my name is Baratunde Thurston and… i’m *heartbroken* over this. [shakes his head and rests his face on his hand as video ends]

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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19 Responses to Extraordinary Sacrifices and Self-Promoting Con Men

  1. NotFromHere says:

    It’s true. It’s embarrassing for Americans. As an outsider I can only shake my head in impotent fury. The whole world is watching America crumble, terrified at the thought of who will fill the vaccum left when America finally consumes itself to death with petty grievances and pointless ideology and the President is being forced to provide his birth certificate? Really? That’s what’s consuming Donald Trumps thoughts?

    I’ve never seen Nixon’s birth certificate? Has Donald Trump? Did anybody lay awake at night wondering if Dubya was really a Texan? I’ve never even thought to question a President’s birthplace before. The difference now? He’s black. That. Is. All.

    America has been great for the last half century because it’s people thought about more, and were committed to more meaningful pursuits than melanin. This is a joke.

    Baratunde is right. Trump and those like him have no class and if this is the best they can do then I can only hope that it demonstrates to middle America that these people have nothing meaningful to offer the nation.

  2. Melissa says:

    It’s so sad that in America, the whole political system has stopped being about ideologies, ideas, plans and what’s best for the country, it’s all about the politician who’s in charge, and how to discredit him. So much fuss over a birth certificate? You have got to be kidding me! And if it was just one self centered millionaire looking for attention, it wouldn’t even be so bad. What’s sad is that so many people, and all the media, actually go along with it!

  3. Margaret Studer says:

    I feel for every word you have said. I wish Trump could see himself through your eyes. He is a terrible person to do this.
    I do not think he actually believed that the President was not born an American. I think he was using it as a tool to get attention for his campaign. He is afraid that the President and those who follow him will stop him from continuing to economically rape this country the way he and his ilk do.
    Our economic problems were caused by uncontrolled capitalism that allowed all the money to be sucked up to the top and not recirculated to the bottom. It is a huge same on us, with all the money in this county, that our distribution of money now resembles feudalism, with all the money at the top and everyone else working as hard as he can just to pay the bills.
    For every dollar someone like Donald trump has, there was a worker somewhere who earned that dollar first. Of course, who he earned it from made sure he was given as few dollars as possible. No one really wants to let money trickle down. They want to keep it.
    That is Trump’s real issue, keeping all his money and getting more. He does not mind playing on other people’s racism to get it. He does not mind whose soul he rips open or whose dignity he destroys. His only god is money.
    For forty years of my life I worked with children of all races, ages, cultures, etc., sometimes for money, sometimes as a volunteer. The day after the President was elected, I burst into teas of joy on the playground because to me it meant that these children now had a better chance, not because the President was an African-American, but because we had elected a President that believed in a positive future in which these children could grow up to have a good life.
    Today I am also heartbroken that some people, particularly Trump, want to take that from them so they can have more money than they could use in a thousand lifetimes.
    President Obama knows the truth. The trickle down theory does not work. The economy runs from the bottom up, not the top down.
    Shame on you, Donald Trump, and everyone who supports this bogus theory. Some of you are racists and some of you are worse. You provoke the racist tendencies of others for your own profit. You are worse than the devil.

  4. Patricicrowe says:

    I wish that every African-Am­erican recruit would demand Tuberville to bring his birth certificat­e to their home. And after viewing it, they should kick his tail out and send their child to another university­..

  5. Kirk says:

    Mr. Thurston’s eloquent, barely contained rage nails Trump’s pathetic ass to the wall where it belongs. Trump and others have tried to mask their racism under the guise of patriotism, and for that alone they should feel deeply ashamed.

  6. catfood says:

    Excellent choice of examples: GWB was indeed born in New Haven, Connecticut. But with him it’s always Texas this and Texas that.

  7. Pingback: “We have all been debased by this incident” | Spreeblick

  8. samanthab says:

    You know, I totally agree with the bulk of what he’s saying, but I do thing it was a savvy decision strategically to release the long form. It should be underlined in every fashion possible that these tea partiers are malevolently destructive. If it takes release of the long form to call that much more attention to how racist and hateful their movement is, then that’s just fine with me. The release was a red flag to their sick assholishness, trumpeted on every major news outlet. Put them on the fringe where they should be. They are an embarassment to our country but in ways that are too manifold for me to fully enumerate with here. Their policies are racist as hell, not just their rallying cries. And by showing their rallying cries to be what they are, the substance behind them also becomes subject to greater scrutiny. it was absolutely a good call on Obama’s part, I believe, although of course it is boundlessly heartbreaking that it was a necessity.

  9. Pingback: Against Feminisms « Quiet Riot Girl

  10. Catherine says:

    Very true, yesterday was an embarassing and shameful day for all Americans.

    (Also, off topic, but I didnt see a contact button on the site for the moderators. I feel this is relevant and should be highlighted more. This is a video of a cop beating the shit out of a woman in my hometown of Atlanta for simply talking to loud at an Ihop with her friends. The alleged story behind this is a table of women having coffee and breakfast at 3am, an arrogant cop telling them to “keep it down” because that is the only way he could show off his falsified power, and human beings naturally defending themselves-and their rights. Do you think this cop would have done this if it were a man?)
    video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pw-bEwEUvI

  11. When conspiracy theories become entertainment, it shows you where we are now as a society. These are really strange times. They feel unsettled to me. All the old rhythms once in place are no longer there, and I wonder if it’s because we are used to seeing the world reflected through the prism of the news media. When the messenger is itself in a state of turmoil and upheaval, then I think the framing we expect is no longer present. We’ve been so conditioned to let the media do our thinking, presenting, and analysis for us.

    The last time I felt like we were all on the same page was during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. The old battle lines were drawn and we fell into our old patterns. But now? I have a hard time defining what “now “means and where we’re going from here. But I pray that we’re not imitating the UK in the ’70s, where it was said that the entire country was in the midst of a collective nervous breakdown that no one wanted to admit.

  12. tinfoil hattie says:

    Where’s Donald Trump’s birth certificate? Where’s Mitt Romney’s? Where were the birth certificates of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush? Dick Cheney?

    I’m sure it’s a coincidence that the first huge hullaballoo over a president’s birth certificate is about the first black president.

  13. Jim says:

    tinfoil hattie: I’m sure it’s a coincidence that the first huge hullaballoo over a president’s birth certificate is about the first black president.

    Just as it’s a total coincidence that now they’re all yammering about his university transcript. After this only the hard-core fools are going to be fooled by any of this. For everyone else, and that is most of the country, the blatant racism of this whole charade is undeniable and plain to see. This whole three-year long episode has rubbed our noses in it. All that wishful thinking babble about how electing a black president made the country “post-racial” has just had a stake driven through its heart, and that’s a very good thing. No cure without a diagnosis; the patient is the doctor in this case.

    NotFromHere: The whole world is watching America crumble,

    Sad to say, this isn’t crumbling, this is progress. This exclusion and othering of especially balck people was the norm for decades and centuries. It has gotten better, and this ugly outburst actually shows this. For one thing we see a major news organization’s white news commentators – Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell – in magnificent full scream accusing their own organization of complicity in feeding the racist birther frenzy. That’s a start.

    NotFromHere: and the President is being forced to provide his birth certificate? Really?

    That’s not the problem. There would be nothing wrong if everry president had to show a birth certificate; her or his birth citizenship is a requirement for the office under the law, and no there should be no deference to some majesty of the office on a matter of law. The problem is that it hasn’t been demanded before. The problem is that it has never been demanded of a white president, not even the one Catholic one.

  14. Thank you so much for posting this. It’s changed my view on the incident from ridiculous and forgettable to a truly sad reflection of the state of my country.

  15. Florence says:

    As always, TNC:

    But beyond that, it is impossible to miss the racism at work here. This is not Vince Foster. This is not Swiftboating. This is the dude who passed health care reform as “the biggest Affirmative Action in history.” This is the whitey tape. This you are an “Indonesian welfare thug.” This is the host of “Celebrity Apprentice,” questioning the intellect of the past editor of the Harvard Law Review. This is the scion of inherited money as populist, and the scion of a teen single-mother as elitist. This is, if you were white, you and the black dude who came before wouldn’t be here. This is we don’t believe you.

    In other words, this is a racism of the bone.

    My ire is not so much for those who see their interests in that frame, but for the Very Serious People, who see nothing in the fact that those who are sorry that this country wasn’t cleaved in half by Genosha, and those who believe the first black president is a Muslim sleeper agent, are all at the same party. Who with a straight face chalk it up to the inexplicable vagaries of the human mind, or mere chance.

    Yes and fuck yes on both points.

    I want to see more media coverage of the Republican thugs doubting Obama’s intellect, like the man wasn’t the editor of the HLR or a highly decorated student and academic who came from a highly accomplished family who was otherwise very much unlike the families of other Presidential legacies who REALLY DID cruise past barriers on ships of privilege, name-dropping, and East coast money and prestige. No, Obama only got to where he is because of some racist notion of affirmative action, a policy where we not only hand out Harvard law degrees, but hot white ladies and piles of cash.

    Fuck that noise.

  16. Pingback: Baratunde Thurston on Obama birther controversy: “We have all been debased”

  17. I was making stupid birther jokes yesterday (like every other Jon Stewart-loving white woman) until folks on Twitter passed along the link to this incredibly moving video. Jokes stopped–tears fell. Thanks for reposting it here.

  18. tinfoil hattie says:

    This you are an “Indonesian welfare thug.”

    This is also “These people don’t look very ‘Indian’ to me, Senator!” years ago, when Trump was all pissed off about the Pequot being granted casino & gaming rights in CT. They didn’t look “Indian” enough for Trump, who thought they were all LYING and so they shouldn’t be allowed to open their casinos.

    Once a racist asshole, always a racist asshole.

  19. M_turnstyles says:

    This video is so well worded and makes it so clear how wrong this has been. With all the media attention on this I wish this video and the points made were discussed.

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