Could President-elect Barack Hussein Obama’s “historical memory”–inherited from his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama–of the brutal British suppression of the Kenyan independence movement in the 1950s affect the “special relationship” between the United States and long time ally, the United Kingdom?
But what if his grandfather had been Palestinian?
After reporting on the barbaric torture inflicted on Hussein Onyango Obama in a Dec. 3, 2008 article published online by The Times of London, writer Ben Macintyre says that the first African American President-elect’s views towards the United Kingdom just might be different from those of the previous 43 White U.S. presidents.
“Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence,” Mr. Macintyre and co-author Paul Orengoh reported. “He was arrested in 1949 and jailed for two years in a high-security prison where, according to his family, he was subjected to horrific violence to extract information about the growing insurgency.
“The African warders were instructed by the White soldiers to whip him every morning and evening till he confessed,” said Sarah Onyango, Hussein Onyango’s third wife, the woman the President-elect refers to as Granny Sarah,” the article states.
Hussein Onyango Obama served with the British Army in Burma during World War II, yet four years after the war his employer, a British Army officer for whom he served as a cook, rewarded his loyal valet by firing him, then denouncing him to the authorities on suspicion of “consorting with troublemakers.”
The irony is that Mr. Obama was a member of the Luo people from Western Kenya, not the Kikuyu. Some Kikuyu people took secret oaths and formed the dreaded Mau Mau, which conducted a bloody rebellion against British colonial rule.
The British soldiers “would sometimes squeeze his testicles with parallel metallic rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together with his head facing down,” Granny Sarah told The Times. “The alleged torture was said to have left Mr. Onyango permanently scarred, and bitterly anti-British,” the authors wrote. “That was the time we realized that the British were actually not friends but, instead, enemies,” Mrs. Onyango said. “My husband had worked so diligently for them, only to be arrested and detained.”
The President-elect writes of his grandfather in his best-selling memoir Dreams From My Father. He says only that his grandfather was “found innocent” and held for “more than six months.”
While a total of only 32 Europeans were killed by the Mau Mau, the British slaughtered as many as 50,000 Africans during the seven year state of emergency which the British imposed, trying to maintain their unjust, racist colonial rule.
Now. Just suppose that Barack Hussein Obama’s grandfather had been a Palestinian, arrested in Palestine in 1949, or expelled from Jerusalem in 1948 by Jewish authorities in the colonial settler territory which was annexed in defiance of the British Palestinian mandate and which declared itself to be the state of Israel. Would that simple difference in paternal geography have made any difference at all in United States history?
Duh! You bet it would have! This article would never have been written, because Barack Obama would never, never, never have been elected President of the United States had his grandfather been Palestinian. No matter his kindly Kansas-born, Caucasian maternal grandparents, having an Arab-Muslim paternal grandfather would have made him categorically ineligible for the presidency.
Talk about an “historical memory!” But whose historical memory and which U.S. “special relationship” with which ally would be extant in the scenario in which an American politician, with a White mother, had a Palestinian father and grandfather?
We’d probably be talking about history-making President Hillary Clinton now, because Barack Obama might have graduated Magna Cum Laude and been President of the Harvard Law Review, but he would never have been elected dogcatcher in this country, let alone to the U.S. Senate, or to the U.S. presidency had his grandfather been a Palestinian Arab, instead of a Black African.