Last week, for those of us not familiar with Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, there was a brief moment of panic when it appeared that President Trump had nominated a de-platformed neo-Nazi to become the acting head of the Pentagon. But the Department of Defense was the wrong place in the Cabinet to look for a new appointee trafficking in racist conspiracy: Also last week, the president appointed Fox News contributor and former birther, Monica Crowley, as the top spokesperson for the Treasury Department.
From 2009 to 2015, while she was a contributor at Fox News, Crowley dabbled in the birther conspiracy which, without evidence, asserted that Barack Obama was born not in Hawaii, but in Kenya, and was therefore ineligible for the presidency. In a blog post dredged up by CNN from April 2011, shortly after Obama released his long form birth certificate, Crowley asked:
If the birth certificate were never a big deal, why did No Drama Obama wait nearly 3 years before releasing it? Why endure and stoke all of the drama? To make those raising legitimate concerns about his origins and policies look like kooks? Maybe.
For over 2 1/2 years, questions have been raised about Obama’s origins and background He was never properly vetted by an adoring press corps, so outstanding concerns existed about his birth certificate (the long-form of which he had never released), where he grew up, his family’s religious background, his parents’ political beliefs, how he got into top schools such as Columbia and Harvard Law, how he paid for his education, what his grades were, etc. The questions were and are legitimate, and yet were never fully answered. In fact, anyone daring to ask them was painted as a fringe moron at best and racist at worst.
In 2009, Crowley also called out Obama for the standard practice of saying his full name at his swearing-in ceremony, and claimed that because he was anti-torture, he was in favor of terrorism:
Barack Obama insisted on being sworn in as president with his full name, Barack Hussein Obama. One of his very first things he did as president was to order the closure of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba … The two things he did along with that was to order a halt to the prosecutions of terrorist suspects there, including the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and other top al Qaeda terrorists, like Ramzi Binalshibh. He also issued an order against the use of enhanced interrogation tactics on such terrorists, including waterboarding.
Now comes word that he is granting his first formal television interview as president to Al-Arabiya. Tells you where his head is, and possibly, his sympathies. Just sayin’.
On her blog in 2010, Crowley continued to engage in the conspiracy that Obama, an observant Christian, was a secret Muslim:
Obama was born to a Muslim father, which under Islam automatically made him a Muslim. He says he converted to Christianity as an adult, which under Islam makes him an apostate …. He grew up in Indonesia, which is the most populous Muslim nation on earth. His stepfather was also a Muslim. He was steeped in Islam throughout his formative years, so it should come as no surprise that he has loyalties to Islam. During the 2008 campaign, he even slipped and claimed that the United States has ‘57’ states, instead of 50. The number of Muslim states in the Organization of the Islamic Conference is 57.
It may not come as a shock that he appears loyal to Islam. The question is: can he be both loyal to Islam and loyal to the United States?
And in February 2015, four months before candidate Trump entered the Republican primary, Crowley co-wrote a column claiming Obama is “conforming U.S. policy to Islam and Sharia.”
Birtherism and “secret Muslim” conspiracies were not fringe ideas within the GOP during the Obama administration: A May 2016 poll found that 59 percent of Republicans believed the first black president was a Muslim, and a December 2017 poll found 51 percent of the party still believed that President 44 was born in Kenya. Birtherism may also be entering its second generation: Shortly after Senator Kamala Harris’s standout performance at the first Democratic debate, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a bot claiming Harris, who was born in Oakland, did not represent the “American black” experience because her father is Jamaican and her mother is Indian.
Crowley’s first nomination for a Trump administration position was derailed in 2016, when reports emerged that she had plagiarized sections of her 2012 book and Ph.D. dissertation in 2000; she withdrew her nomination for a deputy national security advisor position prior to the inauguration. Considering notable examples of plagiarism in the Trump world — Melania’s “Be Best” platform and RNC speech, a 2016 Trump op-ed reportedly copied from an editorial written by Ben Carson — and the blockbuster scandals in progress during the transition, it’s a bit odd that a lowly instance of plagiarism would affect a nomination in the Trump era. But Crowley’s past in bigoted conspiracy is unlikely to hinder her appointment this time around: After all, the president was the most vocal proponent of birtherism, a racist idea which gave a platform to his political ambitions.