The news has been full of this nonsense about how Kamala Harris may not be a US citizen, prompted by a terrible op-ed in Newsweek. It’s a shitty argument made with absurd confidence/arrogance by a guy installed in a sinecure in a right-wing think tank.
Eastman’s Newsweek article rehashes an argument he has made for years: that American-born children of immigrants only acquire birthright citizenship if their parents were lawful permanent residents at the time of birth. According to Eastman, the children of immigrants who entered the U.S. without authorization, or on a temporary permit, are not American citizens. Rather, they constitute an underclass of (mostly stateless) aliens subject to deportation and denied the rights and privileges of American citizenship. His article is titled “Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility”—he’s just asking questions!—because he believes her citizenship turns on the immigration status of her parents when she was born. If her parents were “temporary visitors, perhaps on student visas,” Eastman wrote, then Harris lacks American citizenship. Eastman has never fully explained how he intends to strip millions of Americans of their citizenship, though he does suggest that, at a minimum, Harris might need to be expelled from her Senate seat.
That’s garbage, but mission accomplished: the author has successfully made a ludicrous idea a topic of conversation, and it really doesn’t matter that most of the conversation is about how stupid and wrong it is, as long as everyone is talking about it. Like this post.
The real question is how the media willingly swallow this poison in the first place.
Why, then, do outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post keep publishing articles that promote this lie? A coterie of racists based at the Claremont Institute hope that if they repeat it enough, they can leave the door open for a mass expatriation of second-generation Americans, most of them minorities. Indeed, there are few if any supporters of this falsehood who lack connections to the Claremont Institute. Eastman is a senior fellow at Claremont and the founding director of its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. Josh Hammer, the Newsweek editor who commissioned the piece, is a former fellow at the institute. Michael Anton, who manipulated the text of a quote from the Senate debate over the 14th Amendment in a Washington Post op-ed to make this lie seem more credible, is a senior fellow there. (Anton may be best known as the author of “The Flight 93 Election,” published in the Claremont Review of Books, which condemned “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners.”) Claremont “scholar” Edward J. Erler wrote a book arguing that the American-born children of Mexican immigrants have no right to U.S. citizenship, giving the idea greater exposure.
The Claremont Institute masquerades as an intellectual salon of the right, but it is really just a racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right. It even granted a fellowship to Jack Posobiec, who helped promote the notorious Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Claremont’s resident bigots offer deranged fantasies of violently expelling Americans from their home country because of their ethnic backgrounds. Their work deserves the intellectual weight given to that of David Duke and his Nazi-loving fellow travelers.
Sounds about right. The right-wing has set up all these empty ‘institutions’ with hoity-toity names to create a cadre of assholes with false authority, and these gullible media sites accept that as meaningful. Oh, he’s a Fellow of an Institute. Must be clever and important. Sure, publish him, even if it’s garbage, it must be thoughtful and representative of a legitimate, informed opinion. So it gets out there. The purpose of the think tank is accomplished.
The solution is to treat an association with organizations like the Claremont Institute as the equivalent of a fake diploma, the possession of which ought to automatically disqualify you.