“Fweedom.” It’s something Kamala Harris has been wanting since she was in diapers, according to an account of the vice president-elect’s early childhood that should probably be filed under fiction — or maybe plagiarism.
The story of Harris, ostensibly plucked from her childhood memories, opens a glowing interview profile that was Elle magazine’s November 2020 cover story. The anecdote, however, reeks of convenient dishonesty and prompts a laugh, for this published work that reads as pure parody takes itself so seriously. While the following excerpt sounds like satire, I assure you, it comes from a very real article:
Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young. She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle. At some point, she fell from the stroller (few safety regulations existed for children’s equipment back then), and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset. ‘My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing,’ Harris says, ‘and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’’
Harris Tells an Unbelievable Tale
It would be rather incredible if Harris actually “remembers” this event, though Elle seems to think this is a possibility, characterizing eloquent baby Kamala as “precocious.” More likely, this story is one that’s just been relayed to Harris with such frequency that it feels like an accessible memory, as she characterized the anecdote in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, calling it a “very funny story” that “my mother used to tell me.”
“It was a much cuter story when she would tell it,” Harris told Fallon. We’ll have to take her word for it.
In a different interview with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart about her book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” Harris embellished the story a bit more between cackles, this time making it sound like perhaps the civil rights march “stroller’s-eye view” story was a completely separate incident from the exchange with her mother.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 5, 2021
The fweedom tale is risible and probably fake. Democrats’ leading women and their media cheerleaders have a habit of imputing political aspirations to their juvenile selves.
That isn’t the account’s biggest problem, however. It now appears Harris’s go-to childhood story, serendipitous in light of her eventual rise to second-in-command of the freest country on earth, might have been plagiarized from the hero of the civil rights movement.
Playboy published a too-similar story relayed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1965 interview:
I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. ‘What do you want?’ the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, ‘Fee-dom.’ She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.
So it turns out Kamala Harris lifted her "Fweedom" story from a 1965 Playboy interview with Martin Luther King, by Alex Haley. Much thanks to @EngelsFreddie for spotting the similarityhttps://t.co/zDONW4Ueqs pic.twitter.com/yQuWZHYEMz
— Q. Anthony (ɔpɛ asem) (@andraydomise) January 4, 2021
The VP-Elect Resembles Biden
Whether the anecdote is completely made up, seriously exaggerated, or stolen from MLK, this unfortunate snag illustrates Harris is the perfect right-hand woman to President-elect Joe Biden, who has a track record of inventing fake tales and plagiarizing.
In fact, Biden’s first presidential run fell apart after someone in the rival campaign of then-Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts went to the media with a recording comparing Biden’s stump speech with a speech from the leader of the British Labour Party at the time, Neil Kinnock. Biden had taken lines straight from Kinnock without granting any credit.
Biden’s attempts to run damage control fell flat when journalists dug up the fact that he had previously failed a law school class for plagiarizing from a law review article. Newsweek subsequently reported that Biden lied about his law school record on a New Hampshire campaign stop, a video of which was recorded by C-SPAN and resurfaced during the 2020 presidential race. The exposure of that blatant falsehood struck the final blow to Biden’s 1988 campaign.
Joe Biden has been lying about his personal life for decades. pic.twitter.com/w259GL5fVJ
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) May 5, 2020
Like Harris, Biden has a habit of telling stories that seem a little far-fetched and politically expedient — remember “Corn Pop“? Worse, Biden has a propensity to fabricate narratives, such as a fake war story he’s been peddling for years about going to Afghanistan in 2008 and giving a Silver Star to a Navy captain who tried to save another soldier. According to Biden, the guilt-ridden captain responded to the award with “Sir, I don’t want the damn thing.” According to the Washington Post, however, this never happened.
“[I]n his various tellings of the story, Biden got the service member’s branch, rank, the nature of the attempted rescue, where it took place, and the type of award wrong,” Business Insider’s Grace Panetta concluded.
At best, Harris has done the same in her “various tellings of the story” of her infancy, bungling the details in her quest to craft a compelling account. At worst, in her attempt to spin a cute tale of young Kamala at a civil rights march, she stole a story from one of America’s foremost civil rights champions and pretended it was her own. She’s the perfect sidekick to old Pinocchio Joe.