Just in time for Halloween, the Republicans have resurrected an old anti-Obama bugaboo in the form of Winston Churchill.
When President Obama occupied the Oval Office, he ejected a likeness of Winston Churchill (put there by his predecessor). Ever since then, this has been prime evidence for the rightwing meme that Obama is an anti-Western radical. Two years ago, House Republicans voted to place a similar bust of Churchill in the Capitol building at the behest of Speaker John Boehner, and it is being installed there with fanfare on Wednesday, October 30.
“The bust was the idea of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), whose staff assures it grows out of his admiration of Churchill and has nothing to do with the kerfuffle over the removal of a Churchill bust from the Oval Office when President Obama moved into the White House,” The LA Times reports .
Whatever you say, Mr. Speaker.
Boehner has ensured that the event will be a lavish media splash. The Who’s Roger Daltrey has been roped in to jazz up the occasion.
“What better way to celebrate Winston Churchill's friendship to the United States than to have one of Britain's most legendary recording artists [sic] perform in the halls of the Capitol," Boehner said in a press release .
The Churchill bust has long been a bludgeon in the hands of conservatives to portray Obama as an un-American closet Kenyan.
“If you think about it, [Obama’s] perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather,” ex-Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee once said in an interview, ignoring the fact that Obama never grew up in Kenya.
In Dinesh D’Souza’s screed of a film , “2016: Obama’s America,” Exhibit A in his evidence for Obama’s anti-West, redistributionist plot was the return to the United Kingdom of the Churchill bust.
And the Romney presidential campaign revealed the GOP’s ethnocentrism when a staffer told the London Daily Telegraph that Obama could not grasp the U.S.-Britain “special relationship” the same way as the Romney team because “we are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage.” The Romney team cited the Churchill bust, vowing to reinstate the likeness if put in the White House, saying that it was “symbolically important.”
The House Republicans, who can’t seem to let the race-baiting go, have picked up the racially charged baton from the failed Romney campaign.
And anyway, it shouldn't be compulsory for every American President to bow to Churchill. He was a racist and an arch-imperialist who viewed Gandhi with the utmost contempt. A 2010 book (“Churchill’s Secret War,” by Madhusree Mukerjee) on the Bengal Famine in 1940s British India that killed millions holds Churchill primarily responsible for that tragedy. It exposes his callousness and negligence while legions of people governed by him were dropping dead of starvation. (“I hate Indians,” who “are a beastly people with a beastly religion,” he proclaimed.)
Boehner and his Congressional Republicans surely have more pressing business to take care of rather than to taunt Obama with the image of an old racist and imperialist.
Photo: Flickr user Tammy Lo , creative commons licensed.