Know-nothings revisited

August 22, 2009 

Let's hope the results of the Public Policy Polling poll that you cited on Aug. 12 are inaccurate. The fact that barely half of the Tar Heels surveyed believe that President Obama was born in the United States is rather appalling. On an even more tragic note are those 8 percent who are not sure whether Hawaii is even a state. I'm not sure what these people need most: a geography lesson or a civics one.

Your article stated that "conservative critics of Obama contend he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and, therefore, not eligible to be president." Please note that nationwide this is not a "conservative" belief, but a radical one held by a tiny sliver of, to use a historic term, "know-nothings." Indeed, the conservative John McCain did not articulate this mendacious belief during his presidential campaign.

Yet, these poll results are rather embarrassing for a state that likes to claim the progressive label, Southern style. Perhaps we would do well to heed Thomas Jefferson's warning: "Those who expect to be both ignorant and free, expect what never was and never will be."

Eugene Brown

Durham City Council

Durham

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