President Obama and the bust of Churchill
On Inauguration Day, President Trump entered the Oval Office and welcomed a familiar friend: the bust of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. During President Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader, Prime Minister Theresa May, the pair posed in the Oval Office in front of the bust of Winston Churchill. "This is the original, folks, in many, many ways," the president told the press. "It's a great honor to have Winston Churchill back."
The bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein had enjoyed a special place in the White House after the September 11, 2001 attacks during President Bush's tenure. However, when the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama discovered the Epstein bronze of Churchill in the Oval Office, he had the bust packed and shipped out of the White House faster than the speed of hate.
The Obama White House rejected the notion that the Churchill bust had ever been returned. "The bust is still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room." A ridiculous staged 2010 photo was circulated to prove there was a bust of Churchill in the White House with the caption "President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House." According to the White House archives, the White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960s.
Diplomats were reluctant to admit or discuss the whereabouts of the Churchill bronze after its ejection from the seat of American power. But after several reports in 2009, the British Embassy in Washington confirmed that Sir Jacob's work "sits in the palatial residence of ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald."
So what? On more than one occasion, President Obama had said "he loved Winston Churchill" or "I love Winston Churchill, love the guy." Some viewed his amorous comments as rebuffs to any suggestions that he held a grudge against Britain because of his Kenyan ancestry. Others believed that the president, who had a demonstrable penchant for falsehoods, was incapable of articulating his true feelings for Sir Winston. In Dr. Paul Kengor's research for The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: the Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor, he found that the card-carrying member of Communist Party USA loathed Churchill primarily because the British prime minister was the ultimate anti-communist. At the height of World War II, Frank Marshall Davis excoriated Churchill as an imperialist in articles he wrote for the Associated Negro Press. "The only people Churchill gives a rap about are the white people of the British Empire." Did Davis transfer his hate of Churchill to his acolyte Obama?
Why did the British P.M. give President George W. Bush a bust of Churchill after 9/11? America was attacked by Islamic extremists. Sir Winston Churchill had a colorful history dealing with the Muslim world. He was more famous for several quotes on the scourge of Islam than he was on white British exceptionalism. If Obama was irked that a bust of Churchill was in the Oval Office, then Churchill's quotes on Muslims and Islam would have sent him over the cliff.
From Churchill's unabridged The River War:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity."
The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.
Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step, and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it (Islam) has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccinations. But the Mohammaden religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since its votaries have been subject, above all the peoples of all other creeds, to this form of madness.
My gut check is that President Obama, the man who couldn't utter the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," banished the visage of Sir Winston Churchill from the White House because of his distinct anti-Islamic views, and that is the same subtle reason President Trump, who is not afraid of calling "radical Islamic terrorism" for what it is, welcomed the wise old man back into the Oval Office.
Mark is the author of espionage thrillers Special Access, Shoot Down, and No Need to Know.