Mike Huckabee's incorrect claim that Barack Obama grew up in Kenya has gotten him into hot water this week. But the basis from which Huckabee drew that claim appears to be incorrect as well.
During the interview in which Huckabee twice made his false claim about Obama growing up in Kenya, which he has insisted was a "simple slip of the tongue," Huckabee also said:
HUCKABEE: I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits –
MALZBERG: Of Winston Churchill.
HUCKABEE: The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.
But Huckabee's claim has little basis in fact beyond the never-proven suggestion that Obama ordered the Churchill bust to be returned. Salon's Justin Elliott researched the issue, pointing out that Obama's family was never a part of the Mau Mau rebellion, and the prison time his grandfather served took place three years before the rebellion began. Elliott also quoted historian David Anderson about events in 1950s Kenya, when the Mau Mau rebellion occurred:
To portray the Obama family as being part of Mau Mau is stir-fry crazy. Let me explain why: The Obama family come from western Kenya, which is about as different from Nairobi and the Kikuyu area as Utah is from New York City. And it's almost as far way. They come from an area where there was no rebellion, there was no Mau Mau. So while his father and his grandmother may well have been nationalists -- I'm sure they were -- they weren't directly involved in the Mau Mau rebellion.
The other thing is, if you've read anything about Churchill, you'd know that, although he was the head of the government at the time of the Mau Mau rebellion, he was trying as best he could to get the British in Kenya to negotiate and to end the fighting. Churchill was not supporting or condoning the violence. He is actually one of the few British politicians who comes out of this smelling of roses.
Elliott sums up Huckabee's apparent views on the issue:
So a fleshed-out version of Huckabee's theory would go like this: Obama's grandfather hated the British because he was (supposedly) tortured in prison under the colonial regime a few years before the Mau Mau uprising. Therefore, President Obama must take a different view of the Mau Mau uprising -- in which his family played no part -- than Huckabee, who apparently supports the brutal measures used by the British to defeat the rebellion. And because of all that, Obama replaced a bust of Winston Churchill -- who himself wanted a peaceful solution to Mau Mau -- with a bust of Abraham Lincoln.