Posted on February 27, 2018
A Bigoted Ex-President
This would be a difficult one for former president Barack Obama to talk his way out of. Lucky for him, he doesn’t have to, because nobody’s asking.
For his official presidential portrait, on display at the Smithsonian, Obama reportedly sought out painter Kehinde Wiley. Since he had undoubtedly researched the artist, he surely must have known about Wiley’s two paintings that have depicted black women beheading white women. These works were loosely based on the biblical story in which Judith beheads the Assyrian general Holofornes to prevent him from destroying her city. The biblical context is deliberately lost, however, by Wiley’s replacing Holofornes’ head with that of a presumably militarily powerless woman. So why did he do it? “It’s sort of a play on the ‘kill whitey’ thing,” the artist told New York magazine.
As of this writing, it’s been two weeks since the unveiling of Wiley’s portrait of Obama, and the ex-prez has yet to explain his desire to be immortalized on canvas by such a vile, hate-filled bag of pus. Imagine the MOAB of outrage that would be dropped on Donald Trump if he selected a presidential portrait painter who expressed racial hatred through his work. This is not simply a racial double-standard, either. If a black Republican ever sought out an association with an artist who found “kill whitey” to be a valid genre, it would matter. Yet Obama, whose past is riddled with hits of racial animosity, especially toward women, has not had to answer for a thing.
Even under the extremely generous assumption that Obama had no knowledge that he’d hired a hate-artist, it should be expected after the fact that he disavow Wiley, and find a more responsible artist to paint a new portrait. If the media don’t demand this of him, at least the Smithsonian should.
But no, Obama has not been held to account for this incident, much like he’s never had to explain why he attended Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March,” or been pressed on how he could have possibly been ignorant of the racist, anti-Semitic and anti-American fomentations of his pastor and mentor, Jeremiah Wright. Just imagine how much different most Americans’ impressions of Obama would be, if only we had news reporters in this country, who might have asked him questions like these:
* Do you live in a world where “the kill whitey thing” is a thing? If so, please describe it.
* Wiley’s characterization of his paintings as “sort of a play on” the kill whitey thing suggests that he was making a joke about it. Do you get the joke, and if so, would you care to explain it to the rest of us?
* You once chided Americans over the use of incendiary rhetoric. Do you think “kill whitey” qualifies as incendiary?
* While distancing yourself from Jeremiah Wright’s racist tirades, you said you could no more disown him than you could your own white grandmother, “who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” You later said you did not think your grandmother was racist. So why did you think it appropriate to equate her with Rev. Wright?
* You called your grandmother a “typical white person.” Are there “typical” people of other races as well? If not, why not? If so, please provide examples.
* In your memoir, you created a composite character to represent your white female acquaintances, and depicted a falling-out between yourself and this character over a disagreement about race. In what way does a composite character that is defined by race differ from a racial stereotype?
* You have said that when a black man gets on an elevator, it “happens often” that white women clutch their purses nervously and hold their breath until they get off. Have you ever actually held your breath the whole time you were on an elevator? You know this doesn’t really happen often, if at all, right?
* Why would you even notice how women are holding their purses on elevators, let alone how they’re breathing? Have you considered that the odd behavior is yours, and not theirs? If a woman is made nervous by undue attention from a strange man, why must you assume that race is a factor?
* Has it occurred to you that purse-clutching might be a natural reaction to the presence of an aspiring politician? Might it have assuaged these women’s fears if you’d promised them, “If you like your purse, you can keep your purse”?
* Would it be fair to refer to these breathless, purse-clutching women as composite characters, like the one in your book? Do you understand that composite characters don’t really exist, which means that your interactions with them never happened?
* Are you aware that store employees often keep an uncomfortably close eye on their customers, incessantly asking them if they need help, and that this is a common experience that annoys many people of all ethnicities? Don’t you ever ask people about these things before making rash assumptions? Must imputing racist motives always be the first option?
* What in the world possessed you to eulogize Sen. Robert Byrd, a.k.a., Exalted Cyclops Robert C. Byrd, as “a voice of principle and reason,” and “an unparalleled champion of the Constitution”? Don’t you think a drug store clerk, about whom you know nothing, is more deserving of the benefit of the doubt than a man who built his own chapter of the KKK from the ground up? Or must somebody share your political persuasion in order to be given a pass?
* You have claimed that your parents met, and therefore that you were born, as a result of the protest marches in Selma, Alabama, which took place in 1965. You were born in 1961. Based on that standard of accuracy, why should we believe any of these unverifiable anecdotes of yours?
* Which political party committed the racist “Bloody Sunday” atrocities against those marchers in Selma? You have two guesses, and your first one is going to be wrong.
* Are you now, or have you ever been, a composite character?
* If someone doubted the validity of your birth certificate on the basis that it says you were born four years before the event that created you, just how would you go about setting him straight?
If only somebody were to pose these questions to our ex-president, his answers, and even his evasions, would paint a far more accurate and indelible picture than that impudent, eleven-fingered doodle that now hangs in the Smithsonian.
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