There has been a too easy straw man on Boris Johnsson‘s column for the Sun UK and America can be better friends than ever Mr Obama… if we LEAVE the EU. The Politically Correct Tribe is focusing its rage on one sentence, misreported, to avoid the real argument made by Boris. They’re blaming him of racism, colonialism praise, and other nonsense of the sort.
Let’s look at what Boris writes for a brief fact checking.
1. At the start of the Obama Administration the Churchill bust in the Oval Office was returned to the British embassy in Washington. Hence: that bust “vanished” from that room — a simple proven fact (NYT and WP). ✓
2. “No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision” — a doubt (whatever the “White House officials” may claim, one can hardly imagine the President not having a say on that. Later, “questioned about the issue during his visit to London, Obama for the first time admitted he decided to remove the bust”). ✓
3. “No one could quite explain why” — another doubt, it still remains. ✓
4. These two doubts are the “mysterious” side in a Boris-style dramatized description. ✓
5. Boris refers opinions advanced by other people on “why”:
a) Some said it was a snub to Britain.
b) Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender
c) Some said that perhaps Churchill was seen as less important than he once was. Perhaps his ideas were old-fashioned and out of date.
6. Point b is where the PC tribe has been unleashed, as if it were a Boris statement, deliberately avoiding to recall he was citing opinions by others and not taking them for granted.
As the NYT reports, the idea was … advanced most prominently in “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” a 2010 book by the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza.
But it had already been suggested before. “In 2009 there was heated media discussion about whether this was Obama’s payback to Churchill / Britain for what the Empire did in Kenya. This discussion was widespread”.
In the The Telegraph (14 February 2009)
“It was during Churchill’s second premiership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Among Kenyans allegedly tortured by the colonial regime included one Hussein Onyango Obama, the President’s grandfather”
In the The Guardian (4 March 2009):
“Could Obama’s dual colonial heritage spell the end of the special relationship? US president harks back to his Irish-Kenyan ancestry by declaring March Irish-American month. But what does it mean for Britain?”.
As Brendan O’Neill (25 april 2016) remarks:
“In short, Obama may have taken certain actions, including in relation to the Churchill bust, because of his Kenyan heritage. Racist Guardian! This is how mental the Boris-bashing Twitterstorm has been: he has been demonised and made into handwringing headline fodder at the Guardian for reporting what the Guardian itself said seven years ago. Please tell me I am not losing my mind and that this really is the oddest, most manipulative Twitterstorm yet?”
Thereafter same assumption on Obama’s behaviour came from The Daily Mail (12 January 2011) and from Johann Hari — Independent (28 October 2010): Not his finest hour: The dark side of Winston Churchill — :
George W Bush left a bust of Churchill near his desk in the White House, in an attempt to associate himself with the war leader’s heroic stand against fascism. Barack Obama had it returned to Britain. It’s not hard to guess why: his Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and was tortured on Churchill’s watch, for resisting Churchill’s empire.
Hari distinguishes between Churchill as imperialist and colonialist and Churchill as defender of freedom and democracy, something reflected in Boris point b and c. ✓
7. Boris is indeed interested in point c, and elaborates on that throughout the rest of the article, because this is the argument he wants to make: “Well, if that’s [less important, out of date] why Churchill was banished from the Oval Office, they could not have been more wrong. What was he fighting for, in the Second World War? Why did he work so hard for the American entry into the war? Yes, he was fighting for British survival; but he was also fighting against the dictatorships for democracy in Europe – for the right of the people to choose who makes their laws, and to kick them out at elections. At the very heart of Winston Churchill’s political beliefs was what he saw as the supreme right of every voter, with his or her little pencil, to decide who governs the country. And today it is a tragedy that the European Union – that body long ago established with the high and noble motive of making another war impossible – is itself beginning to stifle democracy, in this country and around Europe.”
And this is the very same issue at the core of the UK referendum on Brexit! ✓
8. The “the back of the queue” remark made by Obama during his visit … may be seen as a confirmation that Boris got it right again on the relevance of point c: here an imperialist Obama is threatening the british people into the EU submission.
Now, let’s see how accurate the PC Tribe has been in some of its reporting:
Writing on Friday for the Sun, a right-leaning British tabloid, Johnson attacked “the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire” in an article urging Britons to leave the European Union when given the choice in a referendum to be held in June.
Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, who is the grandson of the late Sir Winston Churchill, was not impressed by the comment piece. “Appalling article by Boris Johnson in [The] Sun, totally wrong on almost everything,” he said.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on Mr Johnson to withdraw the comment. “Mask slips again. Boris part-Kenyan Obama comment is yet another example of dog whistle racism from senior Tories. He should withdraw it,” he said.
Independent (22 april 2016) Boris Johnson is failing to convince us that his Brexit campaign is about more than xenophobia. — An almost totally invented rant by @nashriggins He probably never read Boris, whose argument for leaving the EU has always been about sovereignty and democracy, reacting in pavlovian mode to rumors.
According to Boris, Obama’s ‘colonial angst’ means he’s plotting to destroy Britain in the cruellest way possible – keeping us in the EU.
… BoJo has utterly redefined paranoia by insinuating that Barack Obama wants to see Britain leaving the EU because of his Kenyan heritage. Where do you even begin to unravel the craziness?
According to Boris, the British people should completely ignore anything and everything President Obama has to say about June’s impending EU referendum because he’s part-Kenyan and thus maintains an “ancestral dislike” of the British Empire. As a result of his alleged colonial angst, Obama is now plotting to destroy Britain in the cruelest way he could possibly fathom: by keeping us in the EU.