Presidential Plagiarism

Harvard president Claudine Gay is being pressured to step down over charges of plagiarism as former president Obama lobbies the administration to stick with her. That makes sense because Obama is a Harvard law alum, like Gay soft on campus anti-Semitism, and no stranger to plagiarism his own self.

In Dreams from My Father, released in 1995, the author visits Kenya and the account bears remarkable similarities to I Dreamed of Africa, published in 1991, and the 1994  African Nights. Both books are the work of Italian writer Kuki Gallmann, a person of pallor and longtime resident of Kenya.

In African Nights, Gallmann and company “camped in the area of Narok, one of the main centers of the proud Maasai tribe.” In Dreams from My Father, the American travels to Narok, “a small trading town where we stopped for gas and lunch.”

In I Dreamed of Africa and African Nights, the reader finds “the ink-black of Arap Langat” and “the ink-black darkness” where fish are approaching. Under a slate sky lies the “ink-black turmoil of the ocean.” Dreams of My Father speaks of “ink-black stairwells” and “tall ink-black Luos and short brown Kikuyus.” In Kenya, men “dive into inky-black waters.” And so forth, with many other passages too similar to be accidental.

In the landmark August 2 “The Obama Factor,” David Samuels recalls re-reading Dreams from My Father in 2008 and finding the passage where Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro  teaches Barry to fight. Samuels spotted similarities with the battle royal scene in The Invisible Man.

“Each of us was issued a pair of boxing gloves and ushered out into the big mirrored hall,” Ralph Ellison wrote. “A glove smacked against my head. . . Blows pounded me from all sides while I struck out as best I could.”

In Dreams, Barry has a tussle with a boy down the road. The next day, Lolo “had two pairs of boxing gloves,” and they lace them up. “Keep your hands up,” Lolo tells Barry. “You want to keep moving but always stay low. Don’t give them a target.” And so on.

Samuels was interviewing David Garrow, author of Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, which contends that Dreams from My Father, without any question, was a novel and the author a “composite character.” The books smacks of a Communist Party hack job, like the one Carlton Moss produced for Lena Horne, which she twice rejected because it exaggerated the inequities of her childhood. The Dreams novel had another purpose in mind.

The Kenyan Barack Obama, who died in 1982,  “bequeaths his name” to the American and by the end of the novel the Kenyan becomes a nameless “old man.” The Kenyan’s written communications from 1958-1964, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, make not a single mention of an American wife and son. Perhaps that is why the president formerly known as Barry Soetoro never accessed the archive.

Communist Party hack jobs were always by multiple authors and vetted by party commissars such as V.J. Jerome. In similar style, Dreams from My Father shows the sign of several hands –  beyond the sections penciled in by Barry.  Some contend that Weather Underground alum Bill Ayers did the honors but the principal author is doubtless “Obama’s narrator” David Axelrod, who signed off on his client’s every word. For details, see this author’s Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation and Yes I Con: United Fakes of America.

Dreams contends that the Kenyan Barack Obama looks like Nat King Cole, like saying Bill Clinton looks like Elvis Presley. Barry’s beloved “Frank,” the Communist Frank Marshall Davis, is decked out like Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) from “Sanford and Son,” drinking whiskey from jelly jars and warning Barry that women will “drive you to drink, boy.”

The Stalinist Frank, who dedicated most of his life to an all-white Communist dictatorship,  disappeared from the audio version of Dreams, makes no appearance in The Audacity of Hope, and is missing from books by Michelle Obama. Frank is also absent from A Promised Land, very much in Axelrod’s elephantine, hagiographical style, and Dreams from My Father gets only a single mention.

“He wants people to believe his story,” David Garrow told Samuels. “For me to conclude that Dreams from My Father was historical fiction—oh God, did that infuriate him.”

It’s hard to exaggerate the fakery of the composite character, the fathomless credulity with which he was received, and the fallout now on full display. In “The Obama Factor,” David Samuels saw Obama’s hand in “the disaster we are living through now.”

No surprise that the composite character president, whose book ripped off Ralph Ellison and Kuki Gallmann, should support the plagiarist Claudine Gay, who says anti-Semitism depends “on the context.”  As this plays out, don’t forget White House resident Joe Biden.

As Mark Bowden noted in 2010, the Delaware Democrat was basically a “salesman,” and showed little sign that he had ever read or written anything of importance. So no surprise that in his 1988 presidential run, Biden plagiarized a speech by British Marxist Neil Kinnock. Consider also “presidential historian,” and one-time Harvard “overseer” Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.

“Goodwin’s plagiarism of sentences, nearly verbatim, from source materials is inexcusable,” the Harvard Crimsoneditorialized in 2002. “She should recognize that her action is unbecoming an Overseer and resign her post immediately, sending the clear message to the campus that she understands the gravity of the offense she has committed.”

At this writing, Claudine Gay is still president of Harvard. As Donald Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.