In our world, there are "mainstream opinions" and "alternative" opinions. I'm one who struggles against the mainstream by providing alternative opinions.
It is tempting for holders of alternative opinions to view their very unpopularity as self-validating. "I am one of the Few, the Anointed, the Remnant. And soon everyone else will find out that I was right all along and boy, won't they be sorry!"
That is to say, it is tempting to enter the Paranoia Minefield.
There are at least two Paranoia Minefields. The first is the Christ Complex. In this, the intellectual courage it takes to express honest doubts and ask good questions about Mainstream viewpoints gives way to arrogance. The harsh and overwhelming criticism one receives is "proof that I must be doing something right. Only a prophetic truth-teller could receive this degree of condemnation and contempt, or be ignored to this degree."
But if we apply this logic, we could say that the German Nazis were wrong because they were popular, and the American Nazis today are right because they're unpopular.
The fact that everyone hates your position is not proof that it's correct. They may hate it because you're mistaken. Something is true because it's true, not because it's popular or unpopular.
The second Paranoia Minefield is Conspiracy Kookery. Rational skeptics of power do not tread here, for fear of stepping on something that will blow up in their face.
The latest bombshell in the Kookery Minefield is whether Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States.
The Supreme Court ruled against one claim that he can't be because his father was a British subject. That case seems based on the assumption that Obama was born in Hawaii, and I don't see how it could ever hold water. Born in a State of the Union, to an American mother, seems to pass any reasonable test of "natural-born."
But as of this writing, there is still another claim the Court hasn't definitively settled, that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. Justice David Souter's clerk requested Obama to provide an "authentic birth certificate."
Here the game changes. If the allegation is true, then Obama was
a) born on foreign soil
b) to just one American parent, who
c) may have changed her citizenship to Indonesia while Obama was still a minor, presumably making him Indonesian too.
While growing up in Canada, I met several people born and raised in Canada who were American citizens by virtue of one parent being an American. Someone in my family with the same acquaintances assumed that they were "natural-born," citizens. But were they really, if they were born on foreign soil with one parent a foreign citizen? Were our Canadian friends citizens by Constitutional "natural-born" status, or by a statute merely declaring them to be "citizens", though not "natural born?"
John McCain was born in an American military base on foreign soil to two American parents, and Congress felt it necessary to pass a law declaring his eligibility for the Presidency. If Obama was born in Kenya to just one American citizen, he's on much shakier ground.
On the other hand, the mainstream media says that Hawaii officials affirm that Obama was born there. But, again as of this writing, Obama himself seems reluctant to reveal the evidence.
Until I see proof otherwise, I personally believe Obama was born in Hawaii. But Obama's determination to prolong this is the main reason to doubt it, just as Bush's resistance to a 9/11 investigation is the main reason to suspect a cover-up.
Here's the problem with deciding who to believe. Obama has the Establishment on his side. They have the money. If they want to "prove" Obama was born in the United States, they can forge and the documents and persuade "experts" to authenticate them. On the other hand, this very suspicion can backfire. Perhaps Obama really was born in Hawaii and the documents attesting to the fact really are real. That still won't persuade detractors. They'll assume it's fraudulent anyway, and precious little can be done to persuade them otherwise.
It's one thing to be skeptical of official claims, it's another to automatically disbelieve everything you hear. In the latter case, every time "They" aren't forthcoming, that's proof of a cover-up, and every time They are forthcoming, they're lying. Once you've reached this point, you've entered the Kookery Minefield. All that you want to believe must be true, and anyone who disagrees is part of the Conspiracy.
"They" may well be covering up, and They may well be lying, but all the time? I don't think so. Sometimes they cover up, sometimes they lie, sometimes they're well-intentioned but misguided, sometimes they're just incompetent.
But sometimes they're right about something. And this blows up in the Kook's face.
Why risk blowing something up in your face?
In the Obama citizenship case, it seems we have:
a) insufficient definitive evidence he was born in the United States, and
b) insufficient evidence he was born anywhere else.
He was elected by a convincing popular vote and, theoretically, an overwhelming Electoral College vote (though that election won't take place until the 13th). If it's doubtful either way, what would you prefer:
a) taking the Presidency away from the first elected black man, on shaky evidence that he wasn't born here, or
b) letting this slide, and maybe several decades from now, years after Obama's death, it is revealed he really was born in Kenya?
In the end, what is to be gained by pursuing this? If it is determined in the next couple of days that Obama is ineligible for the Presidency, the Obama electors may well choose the Democratic runner-up, Hillary Clinton, as President. Or maybe the controversy will send tacit permission for scores of them to switch to John McCain. And if the case is decided after the Electoral College vote, Joe Biden may well be President.
How will any of them be better for the country than Obama? How will this not be perceived by many people, of all colors, as a conspiracy against putting a non-white in the White House?
Is it not probable that this will lead to racial tension and violence?
Now, if in 2016 the Establishment tried to persuade us that Arnold Schwarzenegger was actually born in Hollywood to Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, and was really a "natural born citizen," and if the American people consciously chose to "believe" this obvious lie and voted him President, I think that would establish beyond all doubt that the Constitution was dead and gone forever.
But Obama's somewhat questionable citizenship status does not rank with that. Legal battles challenging his legitimacy will only create more civil turmoil in order to uncover a "truth" that may be no more than a technicality.
This is not a hill worth dying on. For those who love freedom and want a return to Constitutional limits on government, let's not either let the Obama issue blow up in our face, or give way to an even more dreadful Biden, Clinton, or McCain Presidency.