We are our theoretical brothers’ keepers, but not our real ones’

It was just a coincidence that on the same day I heard a clip of Barack 0bama saying once again “We are our brothers’ keepers” I read about his Auntie Zeituni Onyango living in a Boston slum. You’ve probably heard all about it already, but I can’t resist commenting anyway. It was the British Times (formerly known as The Times of London), not the New York Times or the Boston Globe, that reported:

Barack Obama has lived one version of the American Dream that has taken him to the steps of the White House. But a few miles from where the Democratic presidential candidate studied at Harvard, his Kenyan aunt and uncle, immigrants living in modest circumstances in Boston, have a contrasting American story.

Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father, lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston. (“Public housing estate” is Brit-talk for “project.”)

Here’s the convoluted description of the relationships:

Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Omar are the children of Mr Obama’s grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, by his third wife – the woman Mr Obama calls “Granny” because she raised his father. Mr Obama’s father, Barack Sr, was Onyango Obama’s son by his second wife, Akumu. That makes Zeituni and Omar a half-sister and half-brother of Mr Obama’s father, or Mr Obama’s half-aunt and half-uncle.

I know some American families who — through divorce and remarriage — are just as complicated. I myself am a step-grandmother and my daughter is a half-aunt. There are better ways to conduct family life than those that end up with half-whatevers and step-whatevers, believe me, though everybody is loved just as much as if they were whole-whatevers. A system that encourages such arrangements through polygamy doesn’t strike me as healthy. The Times goes on to report:

The Times could not determine their immigration status and an official at Boston City Hall said that Ms Onyango was a resident of Flaherty Way but not registered to vote on the electoral roll. However, that Ms Onyango made a contribution to the Obama campaign would indicate that she is a US citizen.

I guess The Times hasn’t heard that lots and lots of foreigners have donated to the Obama campaign, from all over the world. The Palestinian territories have been a particularly rich source of support. It was generous of Auntie, as she is a poor woman.

An Associated Press story about poor people buying lottery tickets at cheque-cashing shops, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 25, 2003, quotes a Zeituni Onyango whom it describes as out of work and without much money. “It’s like when I feel luck might fall I do that, like manna might come from Heaven. That’s when I buy it,” she told AP.

 What is Obama’s current relationship with his Auntie?

The Obama campaign was repeatedly approached for comment yesterday but had not responded at the time of going to press. It is not clear whether Mr Obama has been in touch with his African relatives living in the US, or even whether he is aware that they are on US soil.

In the preface to the 2004 reissue, he writes: “Most of the characters in this book remain a part of my life, albeit in varying degrees – a function of work, children, geography, and turns of fate.”

Well, if he didn’t know where she was before, he knows now. Just as he knows about his 26-year-old brother George living on less than a dollar a month in Kenya, near Nairobi. That discovery was made by the Italian Vanity Fair and reported on in the Telegraph (UK). Our American reporters are too busy tending to the tingles up their legs to find out about such items as Obama’s family.

It is such a cliche about liberals that you’d think Obama would take pains to disprove it — that they love humanity but hate people. He says we’re our brothers’ keepers, but apparently all he means is that the government is supposed to take our money to care for other people.  When he has the opportunity to show he really believes what he says, by helping his actual brother and his actual aunt who are living in poverty, he takes a pass.

He must be very sympathetic to the refugee agencies we report on, who can pour out many fine words about the wretched of the earth and our duty to help them, and then take our tax money by the millions of dollars to create large agencies that often neglect the people they are paid to help.

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