Triggerism, Trutherism, and Birtherism

Michelle takes a close look at the conspiracy-theory impulse on the Left, Right, and fringe today in her syndicated column.  Whether one thinks that Sarah Palin has to prove her maternity of Trig or that Barack Obama has to produce a witness to his birth in Hawaii or that the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists actually flew commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the real truth is that these conspiracy theories become belief systems based on conjecture and speculation rather than actual facts and evidence:

The plain truth will never mollify a Truther. There’s always a convoluted excuse – some inconsequential discrepancy to seize on, some photographic “evidence” to magnify into a blur of meaningless pixels – that will rationalize irrationality. Palin could produce Trig’s umbilical cord and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Alas, Trutherism thrives on both the left and right. Which brings us to the spate of lawsuits challenging President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court considers one of those suits filed by New Jersey citizen Leo Donofrio, who maintains that Obama is not a “natural born citizen” because his father held British citizenship.

There may be a seed of a legitimate constitutional issue to explore here (how is the citizenship requirement enforced for presidential candidates, anyway?) And at least Donofrio concedes that Obama was born in Hawaii. But a dangerously large segment of the birth certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory. The most prominent crusader against Obama’s American citizenship claim, lawyer Philip Berg (who, not coincidentally, is also a prominent 9/11 Truther), disputes that Obama was born in Hawaii and claims that Obama’s paternal grandmother told him she saw Obama born in Kenya.

Berg and his supporters further assert that the “Certification of Live Birthproduced by Obama was altered or forged. They claim that the contemporaneous birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper of Obama’s birth is insufficient evidence that he was born there. (Did a fortune-teller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?). And they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part and parcel of the grand plan to install Emperor Obama and usurp the rule of law.

I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on U.S. soil. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden’s jihadi crew – not Bush and Cheney – perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?

Just read the comments section, Michelle, and you’ll soon find out.  (The column is also at NRO in shorter form.)

Update: Case in point, as e-mailed to me by Allahpundit.  Everyone else’s conspiracy theories are kooky, except for Andrew’s.  Andrew claims that no documentary evidence exists of Palin’s pregnancy, but that overlooks this report from her doctor:

The letter, dated Nov. 3, is from Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who works at the Providence Health and Services Alaska clinic in Anchorage.

Ms. Palin, Dr. Baldwin-Johnson wrote, has been a patient at the clinic since 1991. She said Ms. Palin’s visits “have been related to routine women’s health care and pregnancy.”

Ms. Palin gave birth to her five children in 1989, 1990, 1994, 2000 and 2008. Regarding the birth of her fifth child, Trig, Dr. Baldwin-Johnson said Ms. Palin had “no risk factors other than her age.”

Don’t stop believin’, Andrew!