Spencer Kornhaber of the OC Weekly has done us all a great service by taking on the unenviable task of trying to understand the motivations and history of the “Birther” movement by producing this lengthy and excellent profile of Orly Taitz, the dentist who has become one of the key figures in starting conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s eligibility to be President of the United States.
The piece is excellent as it covers her ties to people like Wiley Drake and Alan Keyes and explains how she ended up getting sued by others in the Birther movement who accuse her of being an Obama plant out to discredit their efforts. The piece is rather long, so I’m just going to excerpt a few sections and urge you to read the whole thing:
There’s a term some use for people like Taitz, and she doesn’t like it. It’s “birther”—or, if you want to be really mean, “birfer.” (The controversy was born on the Internet, so naturally the Internet gave it a goofy name.) While rumors about Obama’s background and citizenship simmered throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, after Election Day, those rumors coalesced into a near-religion for a group of true believers. To Taitz and the unknown number of people who agree with her, Barack Obama isn’t president and probably wasn’t even born in the U.S. Taitz, a Laguna Niguel dentist with a law degree from an online academy, has been awarded a few creative variations on the birther term: “The Queen Bee of Birferstan” is probably the best.
“That’s demeaning,” Taitz says. “I don’t call anybody names.”
This isn’t quite true. She calls Obama a “usurper” and an “arrogant jerk from Africa and Indonesia.” She called a judge an “idiot.” And she calls anyone who stands in her way an “Obama thug.” Taitz has built a sizable following on her blog; in the comments for each post at orlytaitzesq.com, you can read a few more names for people whom Taitz doesn’t like: “traitors,” “Muslims,” “terrorists.”
In the past eight months, Taitz’s face has become one of the most recognizable of what its adherents prefer to call the “eligibility” movement, and her actions have been some of the most controversial. Her end goal is simple—to remove Obama from office—but her methods have sometimes put her at odds with other anti-Obama activists. And that’s not to mention the legion of Obama supporters who have assembled evidence claiming that Taitz is, at best, a liar and, at worst, treasonous.
Ask about Taitz’s motivations, and she’ll tell you about her background. She immigrated to the United States from Israel in 1987; before Israel, she lived in what was then the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia. She says it’s her upbringing that initially caused her to be suspicious of Obama. “I was just like any other mom; I didn’t do anything different from any other mother,” she says, her accent turning mother into muddah. “And it’s just during this last election, I became really concerned because I came from a communist country. I saw the things that Obama is saying that really did not make sense and that concerned me. One, of course, that had to do with the all-civilian army. And I saw footage of children dressed in uniforms, saluting Obama and doing drills. That reminded me of young communists.”
(Unsure what she’s referring to? Google “Obama civilian army” and “Obama children drills.” That’ll bring up the appropriate World Net Daily articles and FOX News clips.)
The mistrust turned into something stronger when Taitz received an e-mail claiming there was evidence that Obama wasn’t born in America. “At first, I thought it was a hoax,” she says. “I didn’t believe it.” But then, in October, she filled out the “contact” form on the California Secretary of State website, asking if the secretary verifies the eligibility of presidential candidates. The response was no. “I was shocked,” Taitz says.
She fired off a round of letters to the editors of local newspapers, arguing that Obama didn’t meet the constitutional requirements to be president. The only one to publish her words was the Westminster Herald. But that was enough. Someone read the letter in the newspaper and called Taitz at her dental office to invite her to speak at an upcoming meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform in Garden Grove, the far-right anti-immigrant group whose projects include a boycott of Mexico. There, she told the story of her own legal immigration to the United States, and afterward, she was approached by Buena Park radio pastor Wiley Drake (recently in the news because he publicly admitted to praying for Obama’s death). After chatting a little about immigration, the conversation turned to Obama’s birth certificate. Drake invited Taitz onto his radio show. On the air, the two discussed what they thought of the Usurper, and then Drake asked, “Well, what can we do?”
Taitz’s answer: “We can sue.”