Friday, May 18, 2012

Painted by a dishonest brush

I am not a birther by any means. I find the whole thing to be fairly silly. But the new hot topic about President Obama calling himself Kenyan born? Bugs me to no end.

A quick synopsis-
Back in the early 1990's President Obama was still just a student, but a promising one, at Harvard Law. He was ambitious, and to prove so, he had a book deal with a literary agency. Agencies back then used to make up little marketing pamphlets to advertise their up and coming authors and promote their current ones. President of the Harvard Law Review Barack Obama was listed in it with a photo, and a short bio. In it is said, "Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago's South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White."

The agency now says that it was a "fact checking error" that he was "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

I for one, am inclined to believe them. It was an error intentionally pushed by Barack Obama himself. After all, foreign born and mixed race makes a student sound more exotic and accomplished in the affirmative action world that we live in. Of course he wanted to make it sound like he was extraordinary and had overcome so much just to be in an American university.

Granted, the part where his Kenyan father was far from uneducated or poor is irrelevant. (His father was a finance minister in the national government, and attended at least two American universities, including Harvard.) Not to mention, all this talk about how he was raised a by a single mother is a little bit misleading as well. She wasn't some poor, abandoned welfare case. She had a Ph.D in anthropology and traveled the world with her young son. Not to mention, she was married to her second husband for nearly 15 years. She didn't always live with either husband as she pursued her own educational goals. Hardly the typical single mother story.

It is no secret that politicians like to paint the picture of their lives with their own special brush and brand of paint. The problem here is that Obama has painted his in a way that crosses the line from "paints a picture" into straight up dishonest. He lied about where he was born in order to make his background sound more dangerous and complicated.

All that "Chicago Southside" talk? He moved there AFTER he went to Harvard. How many Harvard educated lawyers do you know that can't afford to do any better than the supposed gang filled streets of the southside? He moved there because that is where the color and culture was that he wanted to be around. And not because it was the best he could do.

It is the images that he himself chooses to create and disperse that make me uncomfortable. Why didn't he tell the story of being raised in Indonesia by a Ph.D mother, given excellent educational opportunities that he accepted in the States? What was wrong with that picture?

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