The birther controversy isn’t dead — at least not on Molokai.

Earlier this year, the debate lost steam after several prominent national Republican leaders said they believe that President Barack Obama was born in America.

But that hasn’t stopped Molokai publisher George Peabody from stirring the pot again, this time targeting African-American associations with a request that some found offensive.

Peabody, editor of the Molokai Advertiser-News, emailed several members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition, the African American Heritage Foundation of Maui, and the Hawaii NAACP on Aug. 25 requesting copies of their birth certificates.

“If you or your Negro members were born in Hawaii between 1955 to 1965, I will pay $50 for a copy of your Hawaii long form certified birth certificate,” he wrote.

Peabody said that the purpose of his request was to compare these birth certificates to Obama’s to “expose the fraud” at Hawaii Department of Health.

The White House released the president’s long-form birth certificate last year.

Request Met with Shock and Anger

Recipients of the email had a range of responses to Peabody’s request.

“At first I thought it was a joke,” said Juliet Begley, secretary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition.

Begley, who is not African-American, said her disbelief was quickly replaced by anger.

“The undermining of the White House is just fundamentally racist in this line of attack,” Begley said. “And it distracts from some of the real things that are happening with this administration. It’s just so nonsensical … That’s not the America I want to belong to.”

Begley emphasized that her comments reflect her personal feelings and not the official response of the Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition.

“I’m tired of these needling racist issues that are coming up in the political discourse,” Begley said. “What they’re really trying to say is that they don’t want a black man in the White House.”

Alphonso Braggs, president of the Hawaii NAACP, said that Peabody contacted him about this issue last month.

“I conveyed to him that I wasn’t going to give it any kind of acknowledgement because I don’t intend to validate any of the actions that he’s engaged in,” Braggs said.

Peabody Defends Terminology, Request

Peabody said that to call the issue “racist” is a method of dismissing it.

“It’s a constitutional issue, it’s not a racist issue,” Peabody told Civil Beat. “All the anomalies on the birth certificate indicate clearly that it’s a fraud. We want to see his real birth certificate.”

Peabody said that he has collected birth certificates from people of Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Caucasian ancestry. He acknowledged that before sending the email, he had a “small concern” that some might find it offensive or racist.

“It was a small concern but I was hoping that the effort to facilitate the truth of fraud perpetrated by the Department of Health and Obama White House would supersede that,” he said.

He said that he didn’t think his word choice was offensive.

Peabody first published his request in his Aug. 22 issue of the Molokai Advertiser-News. The Molokai Advertiser-News is a weekly online newspaper that has been published on Molokai since 1984. Peabody, its sole staff member, said that the publication is dedicated to exposing corruption.

DISCUSSION Do you think that the birther debate is valid? Or is it an expression of racism?

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