It is Thanksgiving, and while most rational people are celebrating with a Turkey, I wonder if the two citizen-parent Birthers are celebrating with the equivalent of a Dodo. The Dodo was a bird which went extinct in 1681, and about which Wiki says:
The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter (3.3 feet) tall, weighing about 20 kilograms (44 lb), living on fruit, and nesting on the ground.The dodo’s significance as one of the best-known extinct animals and its singular appearance has led to its use in literature and popular culture to symbolize a concept or object that will or has become out of date, as in the expression “dead as a dodo” or “gone the way of the dodo”.In the same year in which George Clarke started to publish his reports, the newly vindicated bird was featured as a character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. With the popularity of the book, the dodo became a well-known and easily recognizable icon of extinction. according to the Encarta Dictionary and Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, “dodo” derives from Portuguese doudo (currently doido) meaning “fool” or “crazy”.
Well, the two citizen-parent Vattel Birthers definitely have extinction in common with the Dodo. In fact, considering that the seminal English case, Calvin’s Case, was decided in 1608, the tw0 citizen-parent theory went extinct in English common law at least 73 years before the Dodo.
There is also an Alice in Wonderland aspect to the Vattel Birthers. The Dodo is a caricature of the author, Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Alice and several other characters go for a swim. In order to get dry, the Dodo proposes that everyone run a Caucus race — where the participants run in patterns of any shape, starting and leaving off whenever they like, so that everyone wins.
The two citizen-parent Birthers also have a Big Circus Tent where insane theories of all kinds co-exist, clash, and contradict in a willy-nilly fashion. Some push the British-citizen version, some that French law applies in America, some the phony Minor v. Happersett precedent, some the Indonesian adoptee theory, and others the Sovereign Citizen arguments that the 14th Amendment constitutes some sort of special citizenship completely divorced from natural born citizenship.
There is also a lack of consistency regarding the sources of their special wisdom. Some find enlightenment in obscure out-of-context definitions found legal dictionaries, others in the writings of Emerich de Vattel, and still others in the speeches of various congressman during the debate over the 14th Amendment. One even thinks Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, is relevant. These lists of schisms and sources are far from exhaustive. All in all it is a merry troop where everybody’s pet theory wins. The only rule is to avoid any contact with logic and legal history.
There is another similarity to the Dodo. When Alice becomes stuck in the White Rabbit’s house, the Dodo proposes burning down the house to get her out. In their own way, the two citizen-parent Birthers are willing to destroy the Constitution and American law to remove Obama from the White House, all while proclaiming to be patriots and Constitutionalists. Natural born citizenship? They re-write it in accordance with French law. Supreme Court decisions? Lie about them and ignore them. Elections? To hell with them.
All of which bring us to the final connection, the absurd and surreal nature of the debate. Here is an excerpt from this Internet Article: (Only the first paragraph is in German, then it switches to English.)
where we find:
When Dada meets Dodo– Caught in the Nothingness of Nonsense Literature and Dada
“There is a literature […] in which laws wither away.”
(From “Dada Manifesto” by Tristan Tzara)
This quotation can easily be applied to not only to the works of Dada but to Nonsense literature in general and here specifically to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Just as Dada wouldn’t surrender to any of the common principles of art, Carroll would withdraw his work from the common standards of interpretation by letting Wonderland redefine meaning and saying, blurring the border between logic and insanity, identity and names; reducing everything to the sheer nothingness of word. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland represent a nonsensical even Dadaistic attempt to call in question the conceptual foundations of the reader’s world.
Together with Alice the reader abandons all conventions of language and enters a world in which coherence is of a different importance, a world in which conversation is hardly ever serving a purpose other than distortion and confusion. Nonsense and Dada celebrate contradictory poetics on the levels of form and content. In his Dada Manifesto Tristan Tzara wrote, “No more manifestoes,” declaring, “to be against this manifesto is to be Dadaist… in principle I am against manifestoes, as I am also against principle” The more astonishing it is that the reader comes to acknowledge that in Wonderland everybody but him and Alice seem to survive the raging arbitrariness of linguistic coherence.
Dada was the visible incarnation of the Dodo’s freedom – playing games without rules on race-courses without shape, winning without winning. Wonderland – the place where laws wither away. Dada is Dodo and Dodo is Nonsense.
This is a great Internet Article, and I recommend it just for the information it provides. But in connection with the two citizen-parent Birthers, this just nails them. In their world, the 1875 voting rights case Minor v. Happersett is elevated to precedent for natural born citizenship, and The Liberty Legal Foundation files eligibility suits over it. Irate Birthers, including state legislators, become incensed when the New Hampshire Elections Board ignores it. All this over a case where the Court comes right out and says about the citizenship of children born here of foreigners, “For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.”
When the online legal research firm Justia, makes a programming error which affected that case and others, the Justiagate Conspiracy Theory is born. They claim the 2008 election would have turned out differently if only people had known about this case. Ignore the scads of other sources, free and otherwise. Ignore law books. Ignore the millions of lawyers on the other side of Obama. Heck, while you are at it, just ignore the language of the case to boot.
And when you debate the Vattel Birthers, be prepared for Dodo Reasoning. You will be showered with out-of-context quote mining, sophistic syntax quibbling, and outright lying. There are several Internet Articles here which deal with this phenomenon and provide examples. And, all of this in light of very clear case law which holds that people born in the United States, whose parents are neither diplomats nor invading soldiers, are natural born citizens.
Sooo, yes. The Dodo is the bird for them. Perhaps next Thanksgiving, we can serve them crow.
For the rest of us, Happy Turkey Day!!!
Note 1: The Dodo Image. The Artist is Zack Bellissimo, and he has some reallyKEWL art!!!. His blog is here: