Birtherism is The Conspiracy Theory That Refuses to Die

Almost four years on, some Republicans still think Obama was born in Kenya

Manny Otiko
5 min readJun 8, 2020


President Barack Obama (White House photo/Pete Souza)

A few years ago Bill Maher, the caustic host of HBO’s “Real Time,” once described birtherism as a “zombie lie,” meaning that no matter how much information you threw at it, it refused to die.

Comedian and television personality John Fugelsang has said that birtherism, the belief that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, is a racial litmus test. He suggested people ask their Trump-loving uncle where Obama was born. If the answer wasn’t Hawaii, which is part of the United States, he’s a racist. This has been proven by a study.

“White conservatives who not only have racial animus but are also knowledgeable about politics were the most likely group to believe that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, according to a University of Michigan Institute for Social Research study,” stated a 2019 press release.

My Birther Experiment
I tried this experiment a few days ago. A former co-worker responded to a Facebook post and said Trump was handling the current unrest better than Obama would have. So I asked him, where was Obama born?

He started ranting about Obama illegally accessing student loans when he was a foreign student. And there you have it, almost four years after Obama left the White House, there are some people who still don’t believe he was born in America.

Birtherism was a powerful weapon. It was a ridiculous conspiracy theory, but Trump was able to weaponize it and kick start his presidential campaign. After years of lying about Obama’s birth certificate, Trump finally admitted that the president was indeed born in America. But, proving the strength of the zombie…



Manny Otiko

Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.