The London mayor has done this by writing a column in The Sun in which he questions Obama’s friendship to Britain by bringing up his alleged decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office upon becoming president in 2009. “Some said it was a snub to Britain,” Johnson writes. “Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire—of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”
This is Johnson’s way of hitting back at Obama for daring to suggest that Britain should remain in the European Union, and it has resulted in many condemning Johnson, a high-profile advocate of a so-called Brexit, for indulging in “dog-whistle racism.” But the idea that Obama is driven by a vengeful anti-colonial agenda is not unique to Johnson. It has been a commonplace in certain sectors of the British media and political class ever since Obama gained prominence in the 2008 election cycle, as James Mann wrote for The New Republic in 2010. It was picked up by D’Souza and his friends on the fringe right in America, before percolating into mainstream Republican discourse through the likes of Newt Gingrich. The supposed dis to Churchill has also become a motif on the right, repeated most prominently by Ted Cruz.
To set the record straight: The Churchill bust was scheduled to be returned to Britain before Obama took office. And colonialism was crap.