Having spent years travelling to the Middle East and Pakistan, where people believe in conspiracy theories because they can’t get real information, I’ve been horrified to watch my country get infected with the same mindset.
So I can’t cheer when the President Obama gets Hawaii to bend its rules and release his long-form birth certificate. There was/is no shortage of real information on this subject. Just yesterday, the former Health Director of Hawaii, Dr. Chyome Fukino, a lifelong Republican, who had seen the certificate, told CNN bluntly: “He was absolutely born here in Hawaii.”
Yet, before his announcement, according to Public Policy Polling, 51% of Republicans who planned to vote didn’t believe Obama was born in Hawaii. I’d bet the majority of them won’t be convinced by the facts, because they are not interested in facts.
When that kind of mindset takes hold of large segments of the population, in a country where information IS available, we are heading for deep trouble. That is the mindset that embraces the worst kind of demagogues.
And when politicians like Donald Trump – the new Elmer Gantry - cynically encourage that dangerous mindset they not only damage the country, they reveal themselves as shabby, shameful hucksters. I can’t believe the Republican party would stoop so low as to choose such a con man as nominee, and I still doubt a majority would elect him; that folly would demonstrate the United States has joined the sad community of nations where the wildest theories are cherished as truth.