Obama is not a liar because he made up people for his autobiography since he told everyone in the book’s disclaimer that he was lying. My only question is what else is a lie. This disclaimer basically leaves an awful lot open to interpretation. I would have a lot less trouble with it if it was filed under fiction.
Remember when James Christopher Frey, lauded by Oprah, was the subject of a scandal when investigators discovered that major elements of A Million Little Pieces, an alleged autobiographical account of his struggle with addiction, were untrue? If only he had known that a disclaimer would have saved him…sigh.
Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father has a disclaimer at the beginning –
For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology. With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of their privacy.
The following is one quote from Dreams From My Father that has been getting some attention for the last two days because it is a lie –
One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.
When Genevieve said none of this happened with her, Barack said she was a composite [but is she a composite of lies?] –
None of this happened with Genevieve. She remembered going to the theater only once with Barack, and it was not to see a work by a black playwright. When asked about this decades later, during a White House interview, Obama acknowledged that the scene did not happen with Genevieve. “It is an incident that happened,” he said. But not with her. He would not be more specific, but the likelihood is that it happened later, when he lived in Chicago. “That was not her,” he said. “That was an example of compression I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them. So that was a consideration. I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends. And so, that occupies, what, two paragraphs in the book? My attitude was it would be dishonest for me not to touch on that at all … so that was an example of sort of editorially how do I figure that out?”
Read about it at Business Insider.
Will someone explain to me how we are supposed to know what is real if this story of invented characters, names and dates is filed under nonfiction???