April 28, 2011

Obama, Winnie, and Kenya – Busted!

Filed under: commentary,opinion — Penrod @ 12:58 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Getting at the “Roots” of the Issue

Considering all the current references to President Obama’s roots in, and ties to Kenya, an interesting bit of history seems to have slipped under the rug of time.  Yet, some may recall an act by Obama that was rather inexplicable, odd, and largely overlooked during the blur surrounding his historic election victory.

Before taking residence in the White House, President-elect Obama sent a bronze bust of Sir Winston Churchill back to Britain (via British Embassy/Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald). The likeness had occupied a cherished spot in President Bush’s Oval Office.  Intended as a symbol of transatlantic solidarity, the bust was a loaner from former British prime minister Tony Blair after the September 11 attacks.

The Churchill bust, was removed  before Obama’s inauguration, as part of the usual redecorating that any new homeowner might do.  Although the bust was technically “on loan” it might have been better described as what it was: “on permanent lease”, and a gesture of good will.  So, why (although he did not seem to care for it), did Obama have it “returned” to the Brits instead of simply moving it out of the Oval Office?  Perhaps it was a simple error in judgment, or a show of poor social grace, at worst.

But a puzzle remains, if one considers how “tacky” it would be if say, an unloved birthday gift was returned to the giver.    How would that be explained to “Aunt Alice” that you are returning the painting she gave you?  There seems  no reasonable answer.  Certainly, another spot could have been found for ‘ol Winnie, perhaps even a museum could have provided  lasting curator-ship.  Even a dusty closet would have been far better than returning it, and in effect saying “Screw you and your gift!”  Insensitive – to say the least.

But, as it turns out, this “diplomatic ejection” seems to have been an obvious, and inexcusable “snub” purposely directed at our best ally.  Bad manners and insulting behavior aside, there could have been an underlying, and more troubling reason for the return of the Churchill bust.  Maybe it was a kind of “hatred” that was the reason Obama wouldn’t want Churchill watching over his shoulder.

As history has it, it was Winston Churchill who, in 1952, ordered a crackdown on the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule in Kenya – Obama’s ancestral homeland.  Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, labeled a subversive during the uprising, spent months in detention.  These events would give the only logical reason (in his mind) for Obama returning the bust to England.

One might presume that the President of the United States would rise above any urge to react childishly over alleged incidents that may have occurred in Kenya, many years ago.  Regardless, Obama’s insult, cast at our strong ally Great Britain, was inexcusable. I can only hope that the Brits do not judge all of us by the actions of just one person – even if he IS the President of the United States.

ref: Newsweek   |   02/22/09

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