Obama - Bid to Poison White Voter's Mind

The Nation (Nairobi)

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Philip Ochieng

Barack Senior and I were no Damon and Pythias. I would never have put my life on the line for him.

Yes, we often drank Scotch together. And - oh, yes! - the water of Scotland sometimes got the better of us.

That much I must have told an American newspaperman. Yet the story the US media are telling is much more exciting.

One writes that I once told it that the older Barack was a "hopeless drunkard".

Thus what I supplied in raw form has been cooked and soigné -- salt and pepper added with great culinary skill - so it now tastes much more daintily in the cultivated palate of the media consumer.

Senior has been turned into a "drunken sot", a "heavy drinker" -- a man who drove cars at speeds that would bewilder Mister Toad and was killed as he zoomed "after a bout of drunkenness".

Yet I should know that newspapers misreport newsmakers all the time. Distortions sneaked into The Kenya Times even when, as the editor, I wrote powerful editorials decrying the practice.

Often, it is not deliberate. But, equally often, it is. The question is: Why do we do it? First because it pays to twist a story, to exaggerate, to tell half truths, to maintain silence on certain facts.

If I merely drank Scotch with anyone, that is a "dog-bite-man" story that will never yield a headline.

But if I pepper it a little to say that the father of a black would-be president of a superpower was an incorrigible drunkard, it becomes a man-bite-dog story, creates an exciting headline, boosts sales and heightens profits.

Evelyn Waugh (in Scoop) and Irving Wallace (in The Almighty) laugh uproariously in fiction at the habit by newspaper owners like William Randolph and John McGoff of manufacturing war stories to boost profit. Karl Kraus dismissed it as "the pseudo-facts of newspaper headlines".

But Obama is not "anyone" (of E.E. Cummings' poetry). Nothing can be more exciting than the son of a swarthy African who threatens to romp into the most powerful office on earth, the preserve hitherto of whites.

No headline can be more succulent than the pretended "discovery" that, like the victims of "Our Manifest Destiny", this old African savage could not hold the white man's drink and was a constant terror of the highway.

But distortion and what Mark Twain called "silent-assertion lies" are also a useful weapon for denigrating the perceived adversaries of a reporter's race (tribe, nation, gender, religion).

Like the character in Guess Who's Coming Home to Dinner? the liberal doffs his pretence as soon as a black man threatens to invade the sanctum sanctorum of white power.

Thus every stratagem is being used to prevent Junior's entry. Every attempt is made to darken his background, to poison the white voter's mind.

A habit of what Theodore Roosevelt condemned as "muck-rakers" is that they do not bother to check and re-check their claims.

Apparently, they fear that re-checking might lead to a refutation and kill "a good story".

Thus a sixth-lane right-winger called Jerome Corsi publishes a book liberally quoting me as saying certain unflattering things about Barack Senior even though I have never spoken to this Corsi.

An "Obama-nation" will be an abomination merely because Obama is black. Proof? -- his father was a drunken savage! Proof of this? -- Philip Ochieng has confirmed it!

In an era of hell-for-leather revolution in telephony in the US itself, Corsi could easily have phoned or emailed to check with me. But, no, the tripe he had picked up from the newspapers was enough for his purposes.

One rumour-monger telephoned to say he had "heard" that Junior was born in Nairobi, not in Hawaii.

Both this caller and his "informer" are misrepresenting facts because, in all my articles, I say categorically that only Ruth, Senior's other white wife, ever came to Kenya.

This reporter is just floating a mental "cookery" of his own and hoping that I will utter words that might imply a confirmation.

Junior's own book says he was born in Hawaii. If a story can be concocted to "show" that he was born in Nairobi, it would prove that Junior is a liar.

From this, a racist is quite apt to conclude that all black people are congenital liars and that, therefore, Barack is not fit for the White House.

If I have ever said that Senior was ebullient, arrogant and aggressive, I do not apologise. But in human biology, the son of a snake is not necessarily a snake. Hitler could jolly well have fathered Francis of Assisi.

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That is why you do not insult me or my Luo (ethnic) community or my black race if you suggest that Barack Junior has inherited his more humane, more thoughtful, more disciplined character from Anne, his white mother.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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