WASHINGTON: Lotus flowers (Kamala in Sanskrit) famously retain their pristine quality despite growing in muddy waters. California’s biracial SenatorKamala Harris + may have to draw on that feature after right wing nativists in America began questioning her credentials to run for the White House in a replay of the birther conspiracy — a malicious falsehood propagated by the current President — that dogged then President Barack Obama.
But while President Trump propagated the lie that Obama was not born in the United States and was therefore not eligible for the Oval Office, his acolytes began attacking Kamala Harris on more dubious grounds. Jacob Wohl, a prominent Trump supporter and Twitter troll ignited the controversy by asserting that Harris is “NOT eligible to be President” because “her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960” and “neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization.”
Wohl also maintained that Kamala was raised in Canada and presented a photo page from a yearbook from Westmount High School in Montreal, while remarking that “just like the worst President in American History, Barack Hussein Obama, Kamala Harris was NOT raised in the United States” and asking, “Is it too much to ask to have a President that was born and RAISED in America?”
Wohl’s nativist bluff and racist flamebait was quickly called out by others who pointed out that Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution stipulates that the President must be “a natural born Citizen” regardless of where he or she grew up or their parents’ status.
“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States,” reads Article II of the US Constitution.
Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California, just as Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, both well-established facts. But that has not stopped nativists from fostering conspiracy theories about their foreign birth or origin or influence in an effort to delegitimize their political rise and push to the highest office in the United States.
While Harris did indeed spend her high school years in Canada (her mother worked for awhile at the McGill University in Montreal), she has been a resident in the United States from her time as an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington DC in 1982, and she has served in public office in the US continuously since the 1990s.
Wohl is no stranger to baiting anyone who he sees as posing a threat to Trump’s presidency. A former hedge fund prodigy and online muckraker, he was involved in a conspiracy to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller when journalists reported receiving suspicious emails from a woman claiming she had been offered money to fabricate accusations of sexual misconduct against the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The plot misfired but Wohl is apparently back in business despite warning from more responsible quarters not to fall for his bait. Cable networks and online forums tossed around the story even as the Trump fanboy was ridiculed mercilessly.
Kamala Harris did not dignify the rightwing baiting with a response, even though one CNN anchor suggested she should “deal with the allegation” now to avoid trouble later down the campaign road before acknowledging — in the face of withering criticism for his stand — that she “has no duty to justify any such accusation” and apologizing for his idea.
Harris will launch her campaign formally with a rally in Oakland on Sunday.