... while he's making a speech about slavery.
While "President" Bush was giving his speech about the evils of slavery on Goree Island in Senegal, most of the island's inhabitants were taken out of their homes and kept in a stadium until he left. All for security, of course.
"It's slavery all over again," fumed one father-of-four, who did not want to give his name. "It's humiliating. The island was deserted."
White House officials said the decision to remove the locals was taken by Senegalese authorities. But there was no doubt who the residents blamed.
"We never want to see him come here again," said N'diaye, hiking her loose gown onto her shoulders with a frown.
As the sun rose over Goree before Bush's arrival, the only people to be seen on the main beach were U.S. officials and secret service agents. Frogmen swam through the shallows and hoisted themselves up to peer into brightly painted pirogues.
Normally, the island teems with tourists, Senegal's ubiquitous traders, hawkers of cheap African art, photographers offering to take pictures and all the expected trappings of a tourist hot-spot in one of the world's poorest countries.
On Tuesday, shutters on the yellow and red colonial-style houses remained shut. The cafes were closed and the narrow pier deserted, apart from security agents manning a metal detector, near the sandy beach. A gunship patrolled offshore.
"We understand that you have to have security measures, since September 11, but to dump us in another place...? We had to leave at 6 a.m. I didn't have time to bathe, and the bread did not arrive," the father-of-four said.
"We were shut up like sheep," said 15-year-old Mamadou.
Many residents compared Bush's hour-long visit unfavorably to the island tour by former President Bill Clinton in 1998.
"When Clinton came, he shook hands, people danced," said former Mayor Urbain Alexandre Diagne.
It must be nice to be able to "think" like the people around him and never have any cognitive dissonance.
If anyone spotted this in an American newspaper, please let me know.
[via Body and Soul]