Sins of the (Grand)Fathers

In an interview on the Spanish-speaking cable network Univision, Mitt Romney good-naturedly declined to label himself a "Mexican-American" on the grounds that, although his father, George Romney, had indeed been born in Mexico, Mitt's grandparents were American citizens who were living in a Mormon colony in Mexico at the time of his father's birth.

But Mitt would probably prefer not to dwell too much on what the late Paul Harvey would call "the rest of the story."

From the Boston Globe:

The reason that George [Romney] was born in Mexico is that his grandfather -- Mitt's great-grandfather -- had taken refuge there in order to escape US laws against polygamy. It was this family patriarch, Miles Park Romney, who established the colony and lived there with four wives.

Mitt Romney has decried the practice of polygamy, which mainstream Mormons no longer practice.  Still, one can almost hear Newt Gingrich shouting, "Hey, I've had three wives, but not at the same time!"

Now, of course one should not suffer for the sins of one's forebears.  But if we could consider other candidates' forebears, such historical information might prove more revealing about the sitting president than about his challengers.  Consider, for just a moment, Barack Obama's grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, who is believed to have participated in the Mau Mau uprising against the British in Kenya in the 1950s.

The Mau Maus, chiefly members of the Kikuya (or Gikuyu) tribe, the largest ethnic group in Kenya, were terrorists, and were every bit as brutal as the Taliban or the Viet Cong.

In fact, there are several parallels that can be drawn with the Viet Nam war, such as the guerrilla nature of the conflict; the importance of the "Central Highlands"; the (Viet Cong-like) Mau Mau tactic of slaughtering fellow Kikuyu (and others) who might have been loyal to the British colonial government; and the British-declared "prohibited areas," which were analogous to Vietnam's "free fire zones."

The British Army and settlers even referred to the Mau Maus as "Mickeys," similar to the way American troops referred to the VC as "Charlie."  And, like the war in Viet Nam, it seemed to go on forever before finally reaching a conclusion in which the militarily superior power nevertheless conceded to the goals of the native fighters. 

The British were accused of detentions on a grand scale, indiscriminate killing resulting from their inability to distinguish ordinary native Kenyans from insurgents, and torture.  The Mau Maus were accused of brutal, indiscriminate massacres in which victims were hacked to death or (again reminiscent of Viet Nam) incinerated in their own huts.

Barack Obama believes his grandfather, a native Kenyan, was one of those detained and tortured by the British.  This could explain President Obama's apparent enmity toward the British, and in particular might explain why he undiplomatically returned the bust of Sir Winston Churchill lent to the Bush White House by the British government (and which the Brits would have been happy to have remain there); Sir Winston, in his second term as prime minister, ordered the Mau Mau insurrection suppressed, and presided over Great Britain's handling of "The Kenyan Emergency."

It might also explain why, in many ways, President Obama's policies sometimes seem to be driven by what another challenger, Newt Gingrich (inspired by an analysis of Barack Obama by Dinesh D'Souza which had appeared in Forbes), called an "anti-colonialist worldview."

Indeed, a case might be made that, should he be elected to a second term and fully realize his greater agenda, Obama will even more resemble an anti-colonialist despot like Robert Mugabe, who embraced socialism while presiding over the Mau Mauing (both literally and figuratively) of Zimbabwe from prosperity to abject poverty.

Then again, President Obama has reasons to be less than fond of Winston Churchill that have little to do with Obama's grandfather.  Churchill's economic and political philosophy was quite the opposite of President Obama's.  It was the British statesman who said:

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.

And here's one that Obama might take especially personally:

Any man who is not a liberal when young has no heart; any man who is not a conservative when older has no brain.

Stu Tarlowe lives in the Kansas City area and has written a number of pieces for AT.

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