Donald Trump just can't let the "birther" issue go. In an interview on Saturday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Show," Trump brought it up once again by saying that President Barack Obama "might have been born in America" and "many people online claim his birth certificate is a forgery."
Trump then goes on to say that "it would be a positive" for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to bring this issue up more in his campaign.
Now, The Donald has said some pretty ridiculous things in the past year, such as comparing gay rights to golf by saying, "some people can't make putts so they switch to long putters, which is not traditional" and arguing that Obama is secretly a Muslim.
So when Trump first claimed he wanted to see Obama's birth certificate, most people wrote it off as Trump just making crazy allegations to gain media attention.
But we're living in a strange time in American politics when irrelevant issues, wild accusations and unfounded remarks reign supreme.
Unfortunately, some embraced his argument and fueled this birther movement to the point where Obama actually released his birth certificate last May.
Despite the release, the issue is coming back up again.
Perry has sidestepped answering questions about the birther debate on various occasions by saying things in response to Trump like, "It's a good issue to keep alive," or, "I was just poking fun at Donald Trump."
Because Trump's beliefs are so far out there and not popular opinion, it's unlikely that Perry legitimately thinks that Obama wasn't born in the United States, and it's probably more of a strategy to avoid alienating the "birthers."
Perry even conceded that it was a distraction and that "most Americans don't care about that issue."
Still, why should this issue get even bigger? Perry should make a comment totally ending the scandal. It's completely irrelevant and obviously untrue. The president has one of the most extensive background checks of any career in the entire world. Wouldn't we know if he wasn't born in our country or if his birth certificate was forged?
The birther issue is simply a fringe theory created by extreme right-wingers who will try anything to discredit Obama. Perry should stand up like his fellow Republican candidate Jon Huntsman, who in a response to Trump on ABC said, "It's been settled: The president is a citizen of the United States ... Let's move on to the real issues of the day."
By not giving solid answers to these questions and dismissing the topic, Perry looks desperate. Even if he does win the primary, most moderate citizens are going to see these statements and shy away from him.
It does nothing but hurt him in the long run by giving life to this bizarre conspiracy that should have already been over. He needs to put an end to it if he hopes to win the election in November.
Chris Justis is a junior justice studies major. Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.