We live in an age when just being yourself is … well … simply wrong. After Barack Obama’s girlfriend accompanied him to the theater she expressed regret at her inability to change her race. “It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. … We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car, she started crying. She couldn´t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn´t. She could only be herself, and wasn´t that enough.”
Elizabeth Warren understood that being yourself isn’t good enough. So she claimed Cherokee heritage at the institutions for which she worked and benefited thereby. In time she believed it herself and went so far as to contribute recipies to the cookbook Pow-wow Chow, “even if Cherokees did hold pow wows — which Cherokee genealogist Twila Barnes told the Herald yesterday they don’t — even then, your contribution to authentic teepee cuisine is ‘Crab With Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing?'” Nor did the problems attendant on adopting a racial identity deter Barack Obama himself making the attempt. Sandip Roy at First Post writes about his conscious efforts at becoming black:
He needed to become black. At one point he tells Cook [his Australian girlfriend] he feels like a racial “impostor” – a man who looks black but grew up with white grandparents in Hawaii. “There was hardly a black bone in his body,” she writes. Then he started carrying around a frayed copy of Ralph Ellison’s famous book The Invisible Man. As a man who looks visibly black but feels white he is almost the inverse of Ellison’s black man who is invisible in the white world. Cook wrote in her journal that “in his own quest to resolve his ambivalence about black and white, it became very, very clear to me that he needed to go black.”
Roger Simon at PJMedia wonders whether the whole Kenyan birth controversy was inadvertent outcome of an attempt to do just that: emphasize a lineage in the almost Messianic sense — and gain advantage thereby — before the prospect of running for the Presidency became a realistic option and turned the asset of being foreign-born into a liability.
The issue surfaced again when promotional material written by Miriam Goderich, Obama’s long time literary agent surfaced with the blurb “Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” This is how he had been promoted for years. She now says it was a simple fact-checking mistake.
Roger Simon isn’t buying it. An experienced author himself, he found it inconceivable that an author aspiring to public office should fail to notice for 16 years that he had been listed in the promotions of his own book as having been born in a foreign country. Somebody would have noticed. Someone would have told him of the discrepancy in all that time. Roger writes:
But why did Obama’s agents think he was born in Kenya? … Why did they put “Born in Kenya” in his bio and leave it there until 2007? …
Here are the explanations I can think of:
Obama told them.
It was in some early draft of Obama’s abandoned book (Journeys in Black and White) he submitted to them.
Obama wrote it in his book proposal to them.
Obama told them in a query letter.
Obama answered one of those biographical forms.
… Well, I’m running out because they all amount to the same thing.
There is one other possibility. The agents simply made up the place of Obama’s birth, but I have never in all my life heard of a literary agent doing such a thing. It’s possible I suppose, but hardly likely. And why?
Anyway, per Occam’s Razor, I am going with the obvious — the agent’s source for Obama’s birthplace was… Barack Obama.
But again why? Why would he lie about where he was born?
The answer to his own question comes via his own interview with Jack Cashill, the author of Deconstructing Obama. Cashill argues that during the period when Dreams was written the plan was to make Obama the Mayor of Chicago. In order to do that, the author of Dreams had to “blacken” Barack Obama in the cultural sense; to connect him to the major African American icons of the city and to emphasize his linkage to Africa. In other words Obama planned to what Elizabeth Warren, Ward Churchill and many others have tried to do before and since: shade their ethnic identities to gain political advantage. So whoever wrote Dreams created the myth in the literary agent’s blurb.
In that case, the entire “Birther Controversy” may really be the equivalent of trying to find Elizabeth Warren’s possibly fictional Cherokee ancestor. It is friendly fire. The outcome of a fiction gone a little too far. As Roger Simon explains, it is easy to see how it happened once you know the angle to view it from.
But why would he choose to do that? Well, maybe for a grant, a subvention, a scholarship that was available uniquely to students from Africa or similar locales … As time went on, of course, college drifted away and politics reared its head. The Kenyan identity became less necessary, even a liability, so it was dropped. I don’t know about you — but this makes sense to me. It also fits with the tomb-like silence around his college years.
But that is to beg the question: if the gatekeepers consider reality a substance that can be remolded to suit the Narrative what then is fiction? Does falsehood exist? What solid fact can there be when name, ethnicity, place of birth and even religion can be changed to suit the talking points. Perhaps Walter Scott put it best:
The editors at Breitbart argue that the important public policy issue the Kenyan birth controversy raises is the signal failure of the gatekeepers to vet. While the birthplace of President Obama is of possible technical or legal interest, the complete collapse of the screening process reveals a manifest and continuing failure of national political intelligence and counterintelligence. President Obama could have been anyone at all and who would have cared?
How stand we now?–he told his tale
To Douglas; and with some avail;
‘Twas therefore gloomed his rugged brow.
Will Surrey dare to entertain,
‘Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain?
Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun;
Must separate Constance from the nun –
Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
We stand, as Ronald Reagan once realized, on a platform as rich in possibilities as fertilizer. Perhaps the reason why the world is in such deep trouble is that nobody knows — or much cares — about the facts any more. Just the Narrative.