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Obama’s Fictional Lies/MENTIDES FICTÍCIES D’OBAMA

Obama’s Fictional Lies

Genevieve Cook, daughter of an Australian diplomat, lived with Obama in Manhattan. She became a Muslim and married an Egyptian. Below: Veteran Washington Post reporter Maraniss wrote the biography of Bill Clinton, First in His Class, and here he explains yet another complicated president.

David Maraniss’s new biography of Barack Obama challenges Obama’s own story in a firm and brutal debunking of Dreams from My Father. Barack Obama: The Story punctures two sets of lies: Family tales and the stories Obama made up. 38 times Maraniss convincingly disputes basic elements of Obama’s own story. The two strands of lies run together to tell a familiar, simple, and optimistic story about race and identity.

The false notes include his mother’s claimed experience of racism in Kansas, and incidents of colonial brutality toward his Kenyan grandfather and Indonesian step-grandfather. Obama’s deliberate distortions serve a single narrative: Race. Obama presents himself through the book as blacker and more disaffected than he really was and accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles in his real life, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white. His memoir evokes an angry, misspent youth; a deep and lifelong obsession with race; foreign and strongly Muslim heritage; and roots in leftist anti-colonial struggle. Obama might is not as interesting as his fictional doppelganger. Obama added some writerly touches on his drug use to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic. Obama’s spokesman defended his claim to have sampled cocaine as “candid.” Maraniss’s deep and entertaining biography serves as a corrective to Obama’s myth making. Maraniss finds that Obama’s young life was basically conventional, his personal struggles prosaic and later exaggerated. Race, included in the subtitle of his memoir, wasn’t a central factor in his Hawaii youth or the existential struggles of his young adulthood. The attempts, which Obama encouraged to view him through the prism of race can lead to a misinterpretation of the sense of outsiderness. Among the lies in Dreams is the caveat in the preface: “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology.” The character creations and rearrangements are not merely a matter of style, devices of compression, but are also substantive. The book belongs in the category of literature and memoir, not history and autobiography. Obama writes of a friend named Regina, a symbol of the authentic African-American experience that Obama hungers for. Regina was based on a student leader at Occidental College, Caroline Boss, who was white with a Swiss grandmother. Obama entirely cut two white roommates, in Los Angeles and New York. Fictional is also Obama white maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham’s two defining stories were that he found his mother after her suicide and that he punched his principal and got expelled from El Dorado High. Dunham’s tale of a 1935 car ride with Herbert Hoover is a preposterous fabrication. As for a legacy of racism in his mother’s Kansas childhood, Dunham was a teller of tales. The story that Hussein Onyango, Obama’s paternal grandfather, had been whipped and tortured by the British is unlikely. Five people who had close connections to Onyango said they doubted the story or were certain that it did not happen. The memory that the father of his Indonesian stepfather, Soewarno Martodihardjo, was killed by Dutch soldiers in the fight for independence is a concocted myth. In fact, Martodihardjo fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes, presumably suffering a heart attack. Obama’s father and namesake Barack Obama Sr. quickly sheds sympathy. Obama’s grandfather was required to pay an extra dowry for one wife because he was a bad person. He was also a domestic abuser. Onyango was a man who hit women, and Obama Sr. was no different. “I thought he would kill me,” one ex-wife tells; he also gave her sexually-transmitted diseases. Maraniss corrects a central element of Obama’s own biography, debunking a story that he and his mother were abandoned in Hawaii in 1963. It was his mother who left Hawaii first, a year earlier than his father. Maraniss suggests that “spousal abuse” prompted her flight back to Seattle. Obama’s own fairy-tales run toward American racial cliché. Ray, a symbol of young blackness, is based on a half Japanese, part native American, and part black who wasn’t even a close friend. Barry and Ray complain about how rich white haole girls would never date them, referring to Hawaii’s upper class. In fact, neither had much trouble in that regard. As Obama’s Chicago mentor Jerry Kellman tells: “Everything didn’t revolve around race.” Dick Opar, a distant Obama relative who served as a senior Kenyan police official, and who was among the sources dismissing legends of anti-colonial heroism, put it more bluntly: “People make up stories.”

(“The Real Story Of Barack Obama. A new biography finally challenges Obama’s famous memoir. And the truth might not be quite as interesting as the president, and his enemies, have imagined,” by Ben Smith, Buzzfeed, 17 June 2012).

(http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/the-real-story-of-barack-obama)

Mentides fictícies d’Obama

El periodista veterà del Washington Post Maraniss va fer la biografia de Bill Clinton, Primer de la seva classe, i aquí explica un altre complicat president. Primera foto: Genevieve Cook, filla d’un diplomàtic australià, va conviure amb Obama a Manhattan. Es va convertir en musulmana i es casà amb un egipci.

La nova biografia de David Maraniss sobre Barack Obama contradiu la pròpia narració d’Obama en un desmuntatge sistemàtic i brutal de Somnis del Meu Pare. Barack Obama: La Història rebenta dues classes de mentides: les històries familiars i la narrativa inventada per Obama. 38 vegades Maraniss qüestiona de manera convincent elements bàsics de la pròpia narració d’Obama. Les dues línies de mentides s’ajunten per explicar una història coneguda, senzilla i optimista sobre raça i identitat.

Les falsedats comencen ja amb la pretesa vivència de la seva mare del racisme a Kansas, els incidents de brutalitat colonial cap al seu avi kenià i cap a l’avi adoptiu indonesi. Les distorsions deliberades d’Obama serveixen per a construir una sola narrativa: la raça. Obama es presenta a través del llibre com més negre i més descontent del que realment era, accentuant els personatges trets dels seus coneguts negres que van jugar un paper poc important en la seva vida real, i deixant fora o distorsionant les accions d’amics que eren blancs. La seva memòria evoca un jove airat, perdut, profundament i permanent obsessionat amb la raça, amb l’herència estrangera fortament musulmana i les arrels d’esquerra de la lluita anticolonial. Obama no és tan interessant com el doble fictici que fabrica. Obama fa literatura amb el seu ús de drogues perquè els reptes que ha de superar semblin més dramàtics. El portaveu d’Obama va defensar la seva afirmació d’haver provat la cocaïna com a “franca”. La biografia a fons i entretinguda de Maraniss serveix com un correctiu a la mitomania d’Obama. Maraniss troba que la vida del jove Obama fou bàsicament convencional i les seves lluites personals prosaiques, que després exagerarà. La raça, que posa en el subtítol del seu llibre de memòries, no fou factor fonamental en la seva joventut a Hawaii o en les lluites existencials com a jove adult. L’intent, que Obama anima, de veure’l a través del prisma de la raça pot portar a l’engany sobre el sentit de ser forani. Entre les mentides de Somnis hi ha l’advertiment del pròleg: “Per reduir el text alguns dels personatges que apareixen són muntatges compostos de persones que he conegut, i alguns esdeveniments apareixen fora de la cronologia real.” Les creacions de personatges i el reordenament no és merament una qüestió d’estil o necessitat de compressió, sinó que són fonamentals. El llibre pertany a la categoria de literatura memorial, no d’història autobiogràfica. Obama presenta una amiga que es diu Regina com a símbol de l’autèntica experiència afroamericana que Obama admira. En realitat Regina es basa en una líder estudiantil d’Occidental College, Caroline Boss, que era blanca i d’àvia suïssa. Obama elimina totalment dos companys d’habitació blancs a Los Angeles i a Nova York. També de ficció són les dues històries vitals de l’avi blanc matern d’Obama, Stanley Dunham, de que va ser ell qui va trobar la seva mare després del seu suïcidi i que ell va colpejar el director i va ser expulsat de l’institut El Dorado High. Dunham explica un passeig en cotxe el 1935 amb Herbert Hoover que és una invenció absurda. Pel que fa al llegat de racisme de la infància de la seva mare a Kansas, Dunham fabula. La història que Hussein Onyango, l’avi patern d’Obama, havia estat fuetejat i torturat pels anglesos és poc probable. Cinc persones que tenien estreta relació amb Onyango han dit que la història era dubtosa o estaven segurs que mai va succeir. La memòria que el pare del seu padrastre indonesi, Soewarno Martodihardjo, va ser assassinat per soldats holandesos en la lluita per la independència és un mite fabricat. De fet, Martodihardjo va caure d’una cadira a casa mentre tractava de penjar cortines, probablement al patir un atac de cor. El pare d’Obama i homònim, Barack Obama Sr., ràpidament perd la nostra simpatia. L’avi d’Obama va ser obligat a pagar una dot extra per a una de les seves dones, perquè ell era tan mala persona. També maltractava les dones. Onyango era un home que pegava les dones, i Obama pare no era diferent. “Vaig pensar que m’anava a matar”, diu una ex esposa, i a sobre la va infectar amb malalties de transmissió sexual. Maraniss corregeix un element central de la pròpia biografia d’Obama, desacreditant la història que ell i la seva mare foren abandonats a Hawaii el 1963. Va ser la seva mare qui va deixar Hawaii primer, un any abans que el seu pare. Maraniss suggereix que la “violència conjugal” la va impulsar a fugir cap a Seattle. Els contes de fades del propi Obama s’envolten de tots els clixés racials americans. Ray, símbol del jove negre, es basa en un mig japonès, part indi americà i part negre que ni tan sols era amic proper. Barry i Ray es queixen que les noies blanques haole, les de classe alta d’Hawaii, mai volen sortir amb ells. De fet, ni un ni l’altre tingueren cap mena de problema en aquest sentit. Com diu el mentor d’Obama a Chicago Jerry Kellman: “El seu món no girava al voltant de la raça.” Dick Opar, parent llunyà d’Obama que va servir com oficial superior de policia a Kenya, i una de les fonts que desmenteix les llegendes d’heroisme anticolonial, ho diu més clar encara: “Hi ha gent que s’inventa històries”.

(“The Real Story Of Barack Obama. A new biography finally challenges Obama’s famous memoir. And the truth might not be quite as interesting as the president, and his enemies, have imagined,” per Ben Smith, Buzzfeed, 17 juny 2012).

(http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/the-real-story-of-barack-obama)

19 June 2012 - Posted by | Culture/Cultura, Politics/Política | ,

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