Remember history before making wild accusations

by Mario T. García

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Although the recent release of the original birth certificate of President Obama should put to rest the irresponsible accusations of the "birthers," including Donald Trump, about the legitimacy of the president's birthplace, it will probably still not satisfy some.

The fact of the matter is that this issue is more than a legal question concerning whether the president was born in the United States. It is an expression of fear by mostly disgruntled whites and mostly men that somehow they are losing "their country."

What they are really reacting to is that they resent a black man being president of the United States and how he symbolizes the profound demographic changes that have escalated the numbers of non-white people in the United States, especially Latinos. Believing that this country should be first and foremost a white Christian country, these reactionaries mistakenly believe that non-white Americans are somehow less American and even anti-American than whites.

History belies all of these nonsensical assertions. Latinos, for example, have fought in every U.S. war including the revolutionary war and the Civil War. In World War II, it is estimated that perhaps as high as half a million Latinos, mostly Mexican-Americans, served in the U.S. military and many died for their country, the U.S. not Mexico.

I can't understand why some American Catholics would be part of these birthers given the fact that historically until the mid-20th century, Catholics of all backgrounds were also held in suspicion that they were not really authentically Americans. Why? Because white Protestants wrongly believed that the first allegiance of Catholics was to the Vatican in Rome and not to the Stars and Stripes. Those of us old enough remember how John Kennedy while running for the presidency in 1960 had to publicly proclaim that as an American Catholic his loyalty was first and foremost to the United States and that his being baptized a Catholic should not prevent him from being president.

If only people remembered their own histories, we would hopefully not have these extreme and ahistorical views such as exemplified by the birthers, the nativist anti-immigrant groups, and the Tea Party ones.

Let's learn our history before we make wild and inaccurate assertions that do not lead to a sensible, rational and civil public discourse.

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