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Clarence B. Jones

Clarence B. Jones

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April 27, 2011: A Day of National Shame

Posted: 04/28/11 10:19 AM ET

The release by the White House of President Obama's "official" birth certificate was a poignant reminder of just how deep and pervasive racism remains in our nation.

Think about this: A sitting president has to "prove" to the nation that he was indeed born in America -- Hawaii -- and therefore eligibly qualified to be elected president of the United States!

A factually non-issue was permitted become a national issue, not because of Donald Trump and the media. No, this was the ultimate result, of the silence and tacit acquiescence of white political, religious, and community leaders, especially leaders of faith-based organizations, who sat, said and did nothing to counter this insidious new form of 21st-century racism. The silence and abnegation of moral leadership, by persons whom we should have otherwise expected to publicly to challenge this growing "birther" issue, is a stain on the conscience of our nation.

In 1963, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, then president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) was the speaker who immediately preceded Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech at the March On Washington. The AJC was one of several major organizations participating in the March On Washington on August 28, 1963.

Obama's decision to release his "official" birth certificate in an effort to silence the challenge to the legitimacy of his American citizenship reminded me of the words of Rabbi Prinz on that occasion. He said:

When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.


Is the "need" of Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th president of the United States, to "prove" his citizenship, yet again, another example of what some people called the dawn of a "post-racial America" following his election?

White political leaders, especially in the Republican Party, should hang their heads in shame. Wednesday, April 27, 2011, should be remembered as day of moral ignominy in America. It was a day that symbolized the disgraceful and tragic silence of the "good" people among our political and community leaders who did nothing to publicly challenge the irrationality of Donald Trump and others who peddled their racist garbage of President Obama's non-citizenship.