President Obama: Out of (Touch with) AfricaBy Ken Blackwell and Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment
Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment and Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Stream on July 29, 2015.
President Obama’s sentimental journey to East Africa should have been a harmonious one. He used the occasion of a toast to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to joke about his own search for his birth certificate. The usual round of VIP visits and dinners were marred, however, by this president’s insistence on pushing his radical social agenda on Africans.
He lectured the leaders of Kenya about election violence. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama ignored the burgeoning Planned Parenthood scandal back home. While deploring violence in Kenya’s elections that took 1,000 lives in 2007, the President has no remedy for the violence of Planned Parenthood — those traffickers in human flesh. Each day in America, this outfit kills 800 unborn children. And now we know they market their hearts, lungs, and livers.
In Kenya, a local community organizer, Rogers Mogaka, told The New York Times Mr. Obama’s visit came too late. “Why now?” Noting the President waited until his last two years in office, the Kenyan said: “Look, he’s not coming here to meet the common man on the street.”
Nor did Mr. Obama get a warm response from leaders for his advocacy of homosexual causes during his Africa trip. In stentorian tones, Mr. Obama stood with his host, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and lectured him about homosexual “rights.” Mr. Kenyatta courteously but firmly had none of it.
Acknowledging shared values in the war on terror and welcoming American development help, President Kenyatta said issues like marriage for same-sex partners were not foremost in the minds of today’s young Africans. Uhuru, Mr. Kenyatta’s first name, is the Swahili word for Freedom. It was an apt name for the moment: Kenyans want to be free to rule themselves and not return to a cultural imperialism, this one pressed by American liberals.
President Obama’s efforts are neither new nor unique. In August 2014, he signed legislation to appoint a special envoy to promote the religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. Nearly a year later, this post remains vacant, even as Christians in places like Iraq and Syria continue to be brutalized in the most gruesome of ways.
One thing is clear, though: homosexual “rights” are a top priority for the President as he enters his final 18 months in office. Although the position designed to defend people being murdered in the Middle East is unfilled, Mr. Obama has appointed a special State Department envoy for LGBT rights to urge opposition to violence against gay men, lesbians, and transgendered persons.
Any kind of violence against such persons is wrong. But the violence against Christians in so many regions is so much more profound and vicious — and, by this Administration, largely ignored.
At the same time, homosexual “rights” are one of this Administration’s international calling-cards. As constitutional scholar and Supreme Court attorney Dr. John Eastman noted in a recent FRC lecture, the Obama Administration’s “cultural imperialism” is evident in its demands that all countries not only tolerate but actively affirm homosexuality. The Administration even seems to have implied it would withhold funds from the Nigerian government to fight the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram unless Nigeria bowed to U.S. pressure on its policies regarding homosexuality.
Kenya is a country with deep Christian faith and traditional moral values. Understandably, believers in Kenya are concerned with pressure to conform to the American president’s LGBT agenda. And those believers are pushing back.
As reported by CBN, “Seven hundred Kenyan evangelical pastors have written an open letter asking the president not to come to their country and talk about the gay agenda. Mark Kariuki is the key architect of that letter. He leads an alliance representing 38,000 churches and 10 million Kenyan Christians. ‘We do not want him to come and talk on homosexuality in Kenya or push us to accepting that which is against our faith and culture,’ Kariuki said.”
As he has done with many Christian leaders in his own country, Mr. Obama ignored the pleas of Christian leaders in Kenya, as well.
The Kenyans are not alone. Other African leaders share the Kenyans’ rightful indignation at the Administration’s cultural imperialism. The New York Times reports:
On his last trip to Africa in 2013, Mr. Obama was seen as wagging his finger at Africans on gay rights during a news conference with Senegal’s president, Macky Sall. Mr. Sall swung back, saying that laws governing gay rights were Senegal’s alone to decide. The United States should respect that choice, he added, just as Senegal, which had long abolished the death penalty, respected America’s position on that matter. The comments quickly established the script for other African leaders.
Mr. Obama is the first U.S. President of African descent. His election thrilled millions of Americans and especially those among us whose ancestors were brought here in chains. But he has carried an unwelcome message to his ancestral homeland.
His joke about searching for his birth certificate in Kenya has a more somber side, too. He sent Vice President Joe Biden to Kenya in 2010 to pressure that pro-life country to adopt a new constitution that would open the door to abortion. The ever-voluble Biden brazenly told Kenyans they needed to back abortion in order to allow “money to flow” from foreign aid treasuries. Talk about bribery.
Such shameless methods, such extortionate demands, have always accompanied Planned Parenthood efforts in the Third World. It is deplorable for Vice President Biden to employ them against needy Africans. It is even more tragic for President Obama, this son of an African father, to have been the most ungrateful of favorite sons.
The President’s joke about finding his birth certificate in Kenya rings hollow. Given his insistent pushing of abortion-on-demand, numberless thousands of Kenyans will never live to experience their own births, let alone have birth certificates.