Just as President Obama and the First Lady arrived in the United Kingdom for a visit with the Queen (and talks with PM David Cameron), an op-ed he wrote appeared in The Telegraph. In it, he made a case for Britain to remain in the European Union. This is a bone of contention in the country right now and some Brits were not happy that the President voiced an opinion.
One of those unhappy Brits was London Mayor Boris Johnson, who wants Britain to leave the EU. Johnson penned an exclusive op-ed for The Sun in which he voiced his opinion. And it was something the American right would love. In it, Johnson repeated a rumor that has been debunked time and again, that Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office:
It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years. But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington. No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision.
Well, no because this never happened. In 2010, the National Journal reported that the bust was moved to another spot in the White House as Obama wanted to place a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Oval Office. The Churchill bust was not removed from the White House, nor returned to the British Embassy. But the Obama haters heard only the part about the bust being removed from the Oval Office and just made up the rest of the ugly lie.
But Johnson’s diatribe got worse. Much worse.
Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.
Come again? Is that the racist slur we’ve heard so often here at home falling from the Mayor’s pen? Many Brits thought so. The Guardian berated Johnson for what it called “dog-whistle racism.” Labour MP John McDonnell Tweeted:
Mask slips again. Boris part-Kenyan Obama comment is yet another example of dog whistle racism from senior Tories. He should withdraw it.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) April 22, 2016
Even Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames — a Conservative MP who disagrees with Obama on the EU issue — called Johnson’s op-ed, “appalling” and said Johnson was “idle about the facts.” Soames knows that his grandfather’s bust is still in the White House, something a quick Google could have told Johnson. If he had wanted to be factual.
It’s bad enough that President Obama gets this sort of idiocy at home. To have to deal with it from someone whom he is visiting in friendship is simply galling. Unfortunately, there seem to be racist douches in the UK government, too. Perhaps there should be a fish slapping dance to straighten this out. Somehow, I think Obama would be better at it than the Mayor.
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