A new birther movement has emerged in the early days of the 2020 presidential campaign, this time taking aim at Senator Kamala Harris, and with another member of the Trump family in the thick of it.
In the 2008 presidential election and in the years that followed, Barack Obama faced false claims that he was born outside the United States and ultimately ended up releasing his long-form birth certificate as Donald Trump took up the mantle as the birther movement’s key figure. Many decried the attacks as racist, trying to claim that America’s first black president is secretly a foreigner.
The movement lingered long after Obama released proof that he was born in Hawaii, including reports that President Trump himself still believes Obama was not born in the United States.
In the wake of the first Democratic presidential debates, a new movement has started to claim that Harris does not represent blacks in the United States because her father was born in Jamaica. Many also called her citizenship into question. As BuzzFeed News noted, the movement arose after Harris challenged Joe Biden’s record on race in Thursday’s presidential debate, and the claims spread quickly on social media.
The report noted that a series of tweets spread these claims, and that Donald Trump Jr. even re-tweeted one of them. The report also traced some of the tweets directly to racist figures.
“Last night’s tweets, some of which were amplified by bots and in one case by Trump Jr., gave a new level of exposure to earlier claims propagated by fringe websites and discredited figures such as Jacob Wohl and the virulent neo-Nazi Anglin,” the report noted.
Kamala Harris is facing a play straight out of the racist birther playbook used against Barack Obama when he ran for president https://t.co/8sTjQL2LKE
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) June 29, 2019
The HuffPost also found ties between main figures in the new birther movement and some top Republican donors. One of the most prominent voices questioning Harris was from a so-called “black activist” who goes by “Ali Alexander” on Twitter. As the report noted, Alexander is really a far-right political operative who advises a PAC that received $60,000 from top Republican donor Robert Mercer ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The president’s dirtbag son tried a birther attack on Harris, but deleted it after an hour. (She was born in Oakland) pic.twitter.com/v0dmItZvJL
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) June 28, 2019
The report detailed how the attack on Kamala Harris appeared to be highly coordinated, with a network of Twitter bots pushing the messages that she is not really black and calling into question her American citizenship.
The new claims that Kamala Harris is not black and questioning her citizenship were met with an immediate backlash, with many pointing out the similarities with the birther attacks that Obama endured throughout his presidency.