HONOLULU, HI – A couple of weeks ago while speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called on a man in the crowd who said: “we all know there’s a problem in the United States, it’s called Muslims, and our president, well, we know he’s not even an American…” The man went on to say there are secret Muslim training camps in the United States and wanted to know what Trump would do about them.
When Trump summarily dismissed the man by saying “there’s a lot of bad stuff…we’re looking into it,” and then moved to another questioner, he was criticized for not having corrected the man on two counts: that President Obama is American-born, and that he is Christian, not Muslim. “It’s the first time I ever got in trouble for not saying something,” Trump later quipped.
Those two hypotheses, that Obama was born in a foreign country (namely, Kenya) and that he is really a Muslim – the religion of his father, Barack Obama Sr. – are the main components of the “birther” movement, which can be traced back to its principal if unintentional creator, Andy Martin.
The attorney and perennial presidential candidate, whose mother’s family is from the Greek town Tsaritsani, near Larissa, has been widely deemed the father of Obama birtherism by the New York Times, Washington Post, and other major media outlets. In an interview with The National Herald, remotely from his current Honolulu, HI location – where he is investigating Honolulu’s port’s vulnerability to terrorist attack – Martin set the record straight about his views on President Obama’s religion, real father, and birthplace, and on the latter point challenged Donald Trump to produce evidence to the contrary he had said he was obtaining.
BORN IN THE USA
To clarify any confusion and to disassociate himself from a movement he says has spiraled into being short on facts and long on innuendo, Martin recently issued his “2015 Birther Bible,” a letter clearly explaining his positions.
“Greetings from Honolulu, the birthplace of President Barack Obama,” he begins, and explains that there is absolutely no credible evidence that Obama was born in Kenya or anywhere else outside the United States, and he does not want to be associated with such speculation.
In that letter, he also states that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’ claim that Hillary Clinton was the originator of the birther movement is false. “I like Ted Cruz,” Martin writes, but unless he has evidence that she actually made such comments – he acknowledges that her campaign ran a photo of Obama wearing a turban while visiting Kenya in 2006, but nothing beyond that – then she should not be attributed to founding birtherism. It was Martin’s 2008 lawsuit for access to Obama’s birth certificate, he reminds, that started the movement.
Martin describes his work as scholarly research, to which he is faithfully dedicated and interest in which stemmed from his mother’s example. “My mother was one of the first women from a Greek immigrant family to graduate from an Ivy League university (MA, Cornell), and she also graduated from the University of New Hampshire (BA) and the University of Illinois (PhD) and studied at Oxford University, England (where I started on the road to becoming a scholarly researcher),” he told TNH.
For this reason, Martin has walked away from the birther movement, because he does not want to be associated with the “hucksters who lie about Obama.”
“I am a political opponent of Obama,” Martin discloses. “But I have no intention or desire to lie about the facts of his origins or life. And, a decade after I first started writing about Obama, all of my factual assertions have been proven correct, and even my theories have received growing acceptance for their potential veracity. Two of such theories have to do with Obama’s religion and who his father really is.
NEITHER MUSLIM NOR CHRISTIAN
“I am adamant that President Obama was born in Hawaii,” Martin told TNH. But he believes that “the overall historical record on Obama’s religious practices is so conflicted and convoluted, reasonable people can disagree and choose to believe he is either a Muslim or a Christian.
Personally, Martin says “I do not believe that in practice Obama is either a Muslim or Christian. He grew up in an atheistic home. His mother was not a believer, and neither were his grandparents. There is no evidence that Obama was ever baptized, even at Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church. Like Orthodox Christians, the United Church of Christ (Wright’s church) maintains baptismal records and none have ever been released by Obama.”
OBAMA’S REAL FATHER
Although Martin bases his contention that Obama is really American-born on the facts, he admits that perhaps his most dramatic accusation – that the president’s real father is not in fact Kenyan-born Muslim Barack Obama Sr., but rather Frank Marshall Davis, a journalist, poet, and labor rights activist who, like Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was born in Kansas and died in Hawaii – is still just a theory.
Martin says that while some conservatives have embraced his theory, others flatly deny it because if true, it would completely remove any speculation that Obama was foreign-born or has any lineal ties to Islam. “Others have followed in my footsteps with their own versions supporting my original research,” Martin tells TNH, “But for diehard Obama opponents, the possibility that both his father and mother could be American is a pill they are unlikely to ever swallow. I want to underscore that the Davis theory remains just a theory.”
Martin in his letter makes mention of the attention Trump drew in 2011 when he, too, called on Obama to release his birth certificate. Now Martin, in turn, asks Trump to release evidence Trump says he was gathering via a team of investigators he says he sent to Honolulu to determine if in fact Obama was born there.
If Martin were Trump’s campaign manager, TNH asked, what advice would he give to him? “Well, Trump is a difficult person to advise,” Martin began. “But given his past statements [about birtherism] his current standard response “I’m not discussing that any longer” may be the best place for him.”
END OF BIRTHERISM?
TNH pointed out that based on federal immigration law, even if Obama really were born in Kenya, that would not preclude him from being president because the widely-held interpretation is that he would still have been eligible because his mother was American-born – as if the reason Cruz, himself a current GOP presidential candidate, who was born in Canada, is eligible.
Martin agrees, and says “I do not believe any modern court would find either Obama or Cruz ineligible. Today, I believe most people (and certainly the courts) would say if you are born in the United States, or of an American parent who is temporarily outside the states, you are eligible to be president.” He reemphasized: “there is not a scintilla of evidence Obama was born outside the United States.”
Whatever evidence unfolds about Obama’s religion and paternity, Martin has concluded that our current president’s past largely remains a mystery. He told TNH that secrecy laws prohibit the ability to identify and interview those at Columbia or Harvard Universities so they can shed some light on Obama’s college and law school years.
Martin predicts that upon leaving the White House, Obama will “discover” – Martin thinks Obama already knows – that Franklin Marshall Davis is his real father. “We humans find it difficult to live a lie, and the internal urge to confess is a part of our DNA. I can’t prove Davis is the father, but I have a visceral belief in my theory that he is. Time will tell whether I was right about Obama, once again.”