04/27/2011 07:33 pm ET | Updated Jun 27, 2011

Questions About President Obama's Birth Certificate Stir Up Racial Fears

The legitimacy of President Obama's citizenship is unquestionable. While his birth in Hawaii has been proven and documented over and over again, hopefully by releasing the "long form" of his birth certificate the issue will be put to rest once and for all.

Only the conspiracy theorists and the "birther" fringe will cling to their belief that President Obama is a "foreigner, un-American," and their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of his presidency.

Yes, Donald Trump has accomplished something important -- undermining the seriousness of his potential presidential candidacy, destroying his credibility and affirming his talent for self-promotion.

The birther fringe and those continuing to challenge the legitimacy of the president's birthplace might otherwise be an irritating distraction were it not for the fact that it is just the outer layer of a more fundamental, ideologically based states rights' movement. Their "questions" about President Obama's birth certificate, his religion and most recently his college admissions are silly and based upon unfounded accusations -- coded and covert rhetoric to stir up racial fears.

It is not just the birth of President Obama that is at stake. Those leading the charge for states' rights are against the birth of EEOC. They are against the birth of contract compliance. They are against the birth of Title IV. They are against the birth of Affirmative Action. They are against the birth of the Voting Right Act. The attack against the president is really an attack against the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

Today we see leaders of this modern-day states' rights movement trying to use their newfound power as Governor's and state legislatures to undermine the Civil Rights gains of the 50s and 60s.

In Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, modern day states' rights governors and legislators have focused their attack on public sector unions and the right to collective bargaining. The Courts have enjoined Wisconsin's "leaders" from implementing this illegal act, and recall movements and initiatives are being organized to fight back against these new conservatives. State after state are engaging in efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act by enacting new gerrymandering reapportionment boundaries, engaging in voter suppression tactics and promoting restrictive and undemocratic voter ID bills.

In Michigan, state's righters are using a financial crisis to enact a "New Emergency Manager Law" -- appointing a "czar" that strips citizens of their right to elect their leadership. In addition to disenfranchising the democratically elected Benton Harbor leaders and Michigan's legislature is rapidly dialing back civil and human rights by diminishing the Right to Collective Bargaining, and decreasing K-12 funding and the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is not what democracy looks like.

These new states' righters are attempting to declare the movements for social justice, women's rights, workers rights, and civil rights illegitimate, unnecessary and a burden.

Clearly there is a pronounced retreat from civil rights. The Justice Department must vigorously address these issues and take measure to defend and protect our democracy, and enforce the hard won gains of the civil rights movement. It's a pattern that must and will be challenged.