My friend Ed over at Vox Clamantis in Deserto has a great post aptly (and hysterically) titled “The Gift of The Mombasai.”
The clever title being a double-entendre of a double-entendre, it alludes to a little-known post 9-11 story (excerpted below) reminiscent of O’Henry’s classic short story:
The Washington Times
Earlier this week the New York Times reported that a tiny village of Masai tribesmen, located in the remoteness of the Uganda/Tanzania/Kenya border areas, had only recently heard of the terrorist attack of September 11. At first they couldn’t understand how people could die jumping from a building (they live in huts a man cannot even stand up in).
Once the horror was described to them, they quickly collected 14 of their finest cows as a gift of condolence to the American people.
Not only are 14 prize cows a major asset for the Masai tribesmen, the cow is a sacred object to them. The three most cherished gifts a Masai can offer are a child, a plot of land and a cow. The life of the Masai revolves around their cattle. Their religion teaches that God entrusted His cattle to the Masai. As a tribesman explained: “The cow is almost the center of life for us. It is sacred. It’s more than property. You give it a name. You talk to it. You perform rituals with it. It’s a sacred food . . . .”
The Masai, a famously brave and intelligent warrior tribe, not only gave us this precious gift, but the village’s chief warrior — a man named Oltetia said: “That guy [bin Laden] — surely we would have to kill him. We as the Masai have ways to kill, just using a spear and bows and arrows. He is a strong man so we couldn’t do it directly. We would surround him in the bush.”
Although in all our history we have never done anything for these Masai, in all the world they are the only people (to my knowledge) to offer a sacred gift of condolence to us after the September Terror. And, without any offers of foreign aid or trade credits, their first thought was to get the man who did this terrible thing to us.
The US State Department’s “man in Nairobi” accepted the gift from the Masai’s tribal leaders, and explained to them that due to the difficulties in transporting the cows to the US, he would probably sell them, and with the proceeds from the sale, buy some local jewelry which he would send back to America.
Mr Blankley’s Op-Ed closes with thoughts eerily reminiscent of current times and events:
These are hard and anxious times. Americans are feeling unloved and abandoned by our friends. Mothers (and fathers) worry whether it is safe to take their family flying on their summer vacation.
Yet suddenly, with the gift of these 14 cows — unexpected, unasked for, undeserved — our hearts can be touched as no calculated and purchased benefit could affect. From the other side of the globe, one noble warrior people reach out and touch us — another noble warrior people — with a sense of the sacred. Surely we will not profane that gift.
Make a small change in that first sentence, from “whether it is safe” to “whether they can afford”, and we’re staring at a post-9/11, post-opulence American landscape, complete with its own “hard and anxious times.”
Mr. and Mrs. Obama’s thoughtless, insulting “gifts” to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his family have not gone unnoticed in the British Press, as evidenced by this article from The Telegraph UK:
President Obama has been rudeness personified towards Britain this week. His handling of the visit of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to Washington was appalling. First Brown wasn’t granted a press conference with flags, then one was hastily arranged in the Oval office after the Brits had to beg. Obama looked like he would rather have been anywhere else than welcoming the British leader to his office and topped it all with his choice of present (*) for the PM. A box of 25 DVDS including ET, the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars? Oh, give me strength. We do have television and DVD stores on this side of the Atlantic. Even Gordon Brown will have seen those films too often already.
This was coupled with Michelle Obama’s casual choice of gifts for the Brown sons – matching models of the helicopter which ferry her husband around. While Sarah Brown had spent time choosing gifts for the Obama girls, Michelle had clearly sent an aide to the White House gift shop at the last moment.
Mr. Obama’s oft-tabbed “historical” presidency is apparently either ignorant of the historical ties that bind the U.S. and Great Britain, or he is being deliberately insulting to our nation’s greatest ally, and motherland of our Founding Fathers.
If returning Sir Winston Churchill’s bust was an indicator of a personality given to pettiness grounded in personal vindictiveness (Mr. Obama’s grandfather was reportedly tortured by British troops during the Mau Mau Rebellion), then these gifts offer a clear picture of a man lacking the class expected of the individual representing this nation, and her people.
Certainly, a man lacking the class to stand as an equal to the simple, yet classy and honorable men and women of the Masai.
Hat tip to Ed at Vox Clamantis in Deserto.