06/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Racist Birther Bill Makes Republicans Look Ridiculous

Birthers - those who believe that President Obama isn't a natural born US citizen and have been demanding to see a physical copy of his birth certificate for the past three years - refuse to go away. For a while they appear to disappear, only to rear their ugly heads again.

This time around, they have been fighting their cause in Arizona where they have just gotten a Birther Bill through the Arizona House of Representatives. That bill - which still needs the approval of the state Senate - requires that candidates who wish to get onto the ballot in Arizona prove that they are natural born citizens, meaning that President Obama would be required to do that in 2012. This is the latest desperate attempt by the birther conspiracy theorists to prove that President Obama is not a natural born American.

The fervor with which these people operate is stunning. I only wish they would put this much effort into helping the economy, or education system. The president has shown his birth certificate already. Hawaii has verified his birth, yet they are still not satisfied. In fact, Hawaii are so tired of these inane requests that it is working on its own legislation to allow it to ignore requests for the president's birth certificate. What more do the birthers want?

That Arizona would support these people is also laughable, although Arizona is a state with a questionable history when it comes to matters that involve people of color. They have just introduced controversial immigration legislation which has been described by leading Cardinal Roger Mahoney as reminiscent of Nazi and communist tactics and will no doubt lead to racial profiling, as law enforcement officials are given powers to round up people who they suspect may be undocumented immigrants. It is also the state that refused to recognize Martin Luther King day some 20 years ago. These are just a couple of examples.

Birthers are entitled to their opinions, no matter how far fetched. But once again, what we have here is Republicans backing groups on the fringe of the party. Has the Republican party gotten so desperate for votes that it is now comfortable aligning itself with conspiracy theorists who many believe are only pressing this issue because of the president's race.

I'm not simplistic enough to believe that all Republicans are extreme right wingers because they aren't. In fact, four Republicans voted against the birther bill in Arizona. But the question has to be asked: where are the sensible people in the Republican party? Where are the moderate voices, the voices of reason? And why are they allowing their fellow party members to make them look so ridiculous?

Listen to Dr Boyce Watkins and I talk about this issue and let us know what you think.