Adam Serwer: “What to Make of Mitt Romney’s Birther Joke?”
I suspect many Republicans who continue to subscribe to the birther lunacy do so because it bothers liberals and because it’s an act of symbolic defiance of a president they dislike. The problem with birtherism, however, is that the underlying assumptions driving it have always been broader than the president. Birtherism is more than just a conspiracy theory about the president’s birth. Its underlying principle is a rejection of American racial pluralism. The refusal to believe — in the face of all evidence to the contrary — that Obama is an American reads to many as saying black people don’t really count as American unless they talk like Herman Cain or Allen West.
We are now in the middle of a strange political campaign in which the very existence of a political commonwealth seems to have been made into a matter of open debate. There are places that we all own together. There are things that belong to all of us. Yosemite belongs to us. So do Iowa State and Cornell and Purdue, and everything that is taught in all those places. The government is one of those things. So are the national parks. So are the land-grant universities, born 150 years ago this summer, and delivered by a guy who doesn’t even have a statue in the hall of statutes he helped to create. Knowledge, Justin Morrill believed, knows no class, no race. It is part of of what belongs to all of us, because none of us, not one of us, built anything by ourselves. We decided that question once before. It is to our discredit as a country that we’re arguing about it again.
An affinity with Ayn Rand is something I came to expect from my atheist father — who, inspired by her writings (and the disco-era bestseller Looking Out for Number One), emptied our family’s bank account, abandoned his children, and drove off into the sunset to “self-actualize” in 1984.
Not a terribly surprising script. What does surprise me is when I hear fellow Christians try to reconcile Rand’s utter selfishness with the teachings of Jesus.
John Fugelsang: “Paul Ryan vs. Jesus vs. Ayn Rand”