Did Barack Obama Sr. visit Hawaii in 1971?
“Your father’s coming to see you,” Ann Dunham told her ten-year-old son Barack Obama, Jr. before a month-long Obama Sr. Christmas visit in 1971, as narrated in Dreams from My Father. Obama Sr.'s Hawaii visit, reportedly part of a "recuperation" after a "bad car accident" in Kenya, included "drives" around "the island," "short walks past" "the remodeled hospital where [Barack Jr.] had been born," and "a talk" to Barack Jr.'s fifth-grade class about "wild animals" that "roamed the plains" of Kenya. And, most importantly, Obama Sr.'s Hawaii visit gave credence that Obama Sr. was, in fact, Barack Jr.'s father.
But was Obama Sr.'s 1971 Hawaii visit, as narrated in Dreams, a hoax? To begin with, Dreams specifically states that the "only" pictures of Barack Jr.'s "father's" Christmas visit were "ones" where Obama Sr., Ann, and Barack Jr. were "stand[ing] in front" of a "Christmas tree," with Barack Jr. holding an "orange basketball" and Obama Sr. "showing off [a] tie." And yet three other "only" Christmas photos have mysteriously appeared the web and in Obama biographies.
1. A lesser-known photo, with a Daphne Barak credit and appearing on "anti-birther" websites, does show Obama Sr., Ann, and Barack Jr. at a "Christmas tree," but neither an "orange basketball" nor a "tie" is seen. Furthermore, Ann's arms are outstretched, handing a large Christmas present to Obama Sr., with the present balanced on two of her fingertips and on Obama's Sr.'s left hand – yet, simultaneously as Obama Sr.'s arms are crossed, he somehow hands a smaller Christmas present to Barack Jr., similarly balanced on both of Obama Sr.'s and Barack Jr.'s fingertips, even though Barack Jr.'s hand is awkwardly at his side and he is kneeling at a distance farther from Obama Sr. than a sitting Ann. The Daphne Barak "Christmas tree" photo is apparently fake.
2. Two well-known photos associated with Obama Sr.’s 1971 visit, with an Obama for America credit, appeared in the following Obama biographies: Janny Scott's 2011 A Singular Woman, Sally Jacobs's 2011 The Other Barack, and David Maraniss's 2012 Barack Obama: The Story.
Since no specific dates are given for the two photos, it is unclear if the airport photos were taken at Obama Sr.'s Hawaii arrival or his departure. But Dreams does state that Barack Jr. first saw Obama Sr. at the Dunhams' apartment building after his grandmother Toot "opened a door" and Barack Jr. noticed "a tall, dark figure who walked with a slight limp" in an "unlit hallway." And Jacobs's 2011 book does state that Obama Sr. gave his son a "farewell hug at the airport" and disappeared into the "blue skies overhead." Therefore, it is inferred that the two photos were taken during Obama Sr.'s departure at Honolulu International Airport (HIA) – possibly in January 1972, or, due to the Christmas trees appearing in the background, as early as late December 1971.
However, whenever Obama Sr.'s airport "family" gathering took place, significant oddities appear in the two airport photos. A couple of examples: first, in the Ann Dunham photo, Obama Sr.'s left arm and hand are pressuring her left shoulder so severely that Ann's left shoulder is grotesquely (and one would think painfully) displaced a few inches lower than her right shoulder—and yet Ann blissfully smiles. Second, for no apparent reason, the top portion of the Christmas tree in the Barack Jr. photo is missing.
Moreover, significant oddities appear when comparing the two airport photos to each other:
1. While, due to the fuzzy backgrounds, it is not possible to determine which photo was taken first, in both photos, Obama Sr.'s right arm's parallel relation to the side edge of the ticket counter in the background was nearly identical. This implies that the two photos were taken back-to-back, with Obama Sr. remaining stationary while Ann and Barack Jr. immediately switched places. Yet, in the two photos, the ticket-checker in the background appears to be wearing a different watch, and different fuzzy people and different fuzzy objects appear in the backgrounds – thereby implying, in contrast, that a significant amount of time occurred between the two photos. Thus, the only (and unlikely) possibility for this scenario is that, after a significant amount took place, Obama Sr. and the person(s) who took the two photos coincidently stood in the exact same spot(s).
2. Most importantly, the two airport photos lack parallax when compared to each other. Parallax is defined as the "displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight." The properties of parallax in photos with similar backgrounds are clear-cut. For example, parallax appearing in photos taken from a moving aircraft can be used to calculate the elevations of mountains, buildings, etc..
As mentioned, the parallel relationship between Obama Sr.'s right arm and the side edge of the ticket counter (blue rectangle below) is nearly constant in both photos. Furthermore, in both photos, a line extrapolated from the right edge of the blurry TV screen (window?) in the background intersects the 3rd and 4th hanging arch from the right (blue line below). Hence, any fore-aft movement of the camera between photos was insignificant, and the horizontal position for the camera in the two photos was nearly identical.
Then, due to one or more constants appearing in the two photos and the clear-cut properties of parallax:
(1) It is impossible for the Christmas tree to be directly behind Obama Sr.'s head in the Ann Dunham photo, and the same Christmas tree to appear on the right side of Obama Sr.'s head in the Barack Jr. photo (even if Obama Sr.'s awkward leftward lean is taken into account).
(2) It is impossible for the blue SAN FRANCISCO sign to be down in the lights/signs with an edge over the 3rd hanging arch in the Ann Dunham photo, and the same blue SAN FRANCISCO sign be up above the lights/signs with the same edge over the 1st hanging arch next to the 1st Christmas tree in the Barack Jr. photo.
(3) It is impossible for the TV screen (window?) to be over the lower ticket counter in the Ann Dunham photo, and the same TV screen (window?) be over the higher ticket counter in the Barack Jr. photo.
(4) It is impossible for the metal counter-pole to be intersecting the hanging arches where 3rd and 4th hanging arches meet in the Barack Jr. photo, and not in the Ann Dunham photo.
(5) It is impossible for the bottom of the large arch to be hanging behind the ticket-checker in the Ann Dunham photo, and the bottom of the same large arch to be hanging directly above the ticket-checker in the Barack Jr. photo.
(6) It is impossible for more horizontal lights (green ellipse above) to appear on the right side of the 2nd Christmas tree (oddly missing its top) in the background in the Ann Dunham photo than appear on the right side of the 2nd Christmas tree in the Barack Jr. photo.
As a control sample, three real photos taken more or less back-to-back at the Customs Inspections at HIA on October 10, 1974 are briefly analyzed.
The differences between the three real 1974 Custom Inspection photos and the two Obama Sr. 1971 airport photos are stark.
1. In the three 1974 photos, people/objects in the background are clear (e.g., faraway signs can be read), and as to be expected in real photos taken back-to-back in an airport setting, some people/objects in the background remained stationary, while some have moved. In fact, even though not labeled, by analyzing the people/objects in the clear background, the order sequence of each photo taken can easily be inferred, unlike Obama Sr.'s 1971 two airport photos.
2. Most importantly, in the 1974 photos, the clear-cut properties of parallax can easily be seen. For example, in photo 2 and photo 3 – where the camera moved from the photographer's left to his right – a few of the many instances of parallax are circled in red:
In conclusion, since the two Obama Sr. 1971 airport photos do not exhibit the clear-cut properties of parallax, at least one of the two Obama Sr. airport photos is fake. Therefore, a couple of questions need to be asked.
1. If Barack Jr.'s "father's" visit to Hawaii in 1971 truly took place as narrated in Dreams, then why were fake photos created?
2. If Obama Sr. truly is Barack Jr.'s father, then why was a phony Obama Sr. 1971 visit, with accompanying fake airport photos, created for the Dreams narrative? Since Sally Jacobs's 2011 book vaguely claims that Obama Sr. once "sat inexplicably, for a series of photographic portraits at the University of Hawaii," and that those "photographic portraits" are "filed in the school's archive bearing no explanatory label," then it is possible that the phony narrative was based on an unrelated Obama Sr. trip to Hawaii around 1971.
Maybe these questions, and the question of whether or not Obama biographers Janny Scott, Sally Jacobs, and David Maraniss all knowingly published fake Obama Sr. 1971 airport photos in their books will be answered in Maraniss's upcoming book, Barack Obama: The Story, Volume II.