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Citizenship, Faith & Irrationality

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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the ultimate authority on the English language, whose origins date to 1857, defines "irrational" as: "not logical or reasonable; not endowed with the power of reason."

It's not easy to move from the OED, one of scholarship's greatest works to baseball, but on this, baseball's Opening Day, I do so in search of higher truth -- since baseball is capable of leading one to "higher truth."

Luke Scott plays for the Baltimore Orioles. Last year Scott hit .284, with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs. Based upon his 2010 performance he signed a new contract for $6.4 million.

Scott, a ballplayer hardly known outside Orioles Park at Camden Yard, suddenly last December became front-page news and briefly an Internet sensation.

However, his sudden celebrity was unrelated to baseball.

What Scott did that resulted in his receiving more personal attention than anything he's accomplished on the playing field was to state categorically Barack Hussein Obama, the president of the United States, is not an American citizen.

This is what Scott said:

He (Obama) was not born here. That's my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go - within 10 minutes - to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, 'See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.' The man has dodged everything. He dodges questions, he doesn't answer anything. And why? Because he's hiding something.

I have a marked reluctance to call others irrational (the temptations are endless). You don't really know who's irrational and who's ignorant -- and at any give time we are all ignorant about something (I'm right there).

But if you accept the OED's authority, then Luke Scott is irrational -- as indeed is any person of similar mind. But despite such irrationalities, you have to admit it's a great country when you can evidence borderline idiocy and still make $6.4 million a year.

But I suppose others might say, "He's a baseball player, so what do you expect?" Well, I know a few ballplayers, some of whom are politically conservative (it often goes with being millionaires), but not Luke Scott conservative, nor Luke Scott irrational.

But why pick on a baseball player who's paid to hit, not think, when so many politicians have crossed the foul line. And have done so not just on the issue of President Obama's citizenship, but something more insidious -- whether the president is a Christian?

They have sought to further the lie Obama is neither citizen nor Christian.

The list of Republican "leaders" and their supplicants on talk radio and television that seem "confused" about Obama's citizenship and faith is long. In varying degrees it includes Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, Sara Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck.

On the question of the president's citizenship, Trump, otherwise known as "The Donald", told Good Morning America:

He grew up and nobody knew him. You know? When you interview people, if ever I got the nomination, if I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten. They'll remember me. Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he his until later in his life. It's very strange. The whole thing is very strange.

I hadn't thought this of Trump before, but now it appears he's as squirrely as his hairstyle.

Then there's Mike Huckabee, who, when answering a question on the president's "citizenship", told a right-wing talk radio host in New York:

I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits, the bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

(Huckabee later said he had confused "Kenya and Indonesia." Alright, that happens, confusing Africa and Asia. Since we want our leaders to be like us why demand of a presidential candidate that he or she be geogrpahically smarter than we?)

But as pernicious as I find people doubting the president's citizenship, I find even more so those who question his faith, that he is a "true" Christian.

During the 2008 presidential campaign Senator Obama and Senator McCain appeared at a candidate's forum at Rick Warren's famous Saddleback Church in Orange County.

One candidates during that nationally televised forum confessed Jesus Christ as lord and savior; the one who didn't was John McCain.

At the recent National Day of Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, the president spoke of having been led to the Civil Rights Movement and to the Baptist, Catholic and Jewish clergy who led it.

He then said:

Their call to fix what was broken in our world, a call rooted in faith, is what led me ... to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the South Side of Chicago. And it was through that experience working with pastors and laypeople trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace Him as my lord and savior.

But it isn't just right-wingers or fundamentalists Christians who doubt Obama's confession of faith, even HBO's Bill Maher, who arrogantly proclaims his atheism, claims the president is hiding a deep secret. On his Real Time Talk Show, Maher said he knows an "unbeliever when he sees one" and Obama is probably an "agnostic."

Well, there you have it. Maher has spoken. Obama is not a Muslim. He's not a Christian. He's an "agnostic." Geez, Marie, the world is complicated. But seriously, Maher doesn't count. On any given night 307 million Americans are not watching his show.

The deeply troubling aspect of all of this is the success achieved by politicians and talk show performers on Clear Channel and Fox News in spreading confusion and doubt about the president's faith -- and no corresponding movement by otherwise decent men and women to stop the innuendos and lies.

According to the Pew Research Center a shocking 18 percent of those polled think the president is "Muslim", while 43 percent are unclear as to what he believes? These figures mean an astounding 61 percent of our fellow "citizens" are either ignorant of or doubt President Obama's confession of being a born again Christian.

A rational person might accept the president's testimony of faith, but it is strikingly evident a significant number of Americans refuse to grant our president what they would grant anyone else: the right of self-determination in matters of religious beliefs.

So, do these denials of citizenship and faith fit the OED's definition of "irrational" as "not logical or reasonable."

I think so.

Don't you?

George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader.