To the good, the White House tweet honoring the memory of “Star Trek” actor Leonard Nimoy, who died yesterday at 83, featured a photograph of fellow cast member Nichelle Nichols, better known to Trekkies as Lt. Uhura. To the bad, the tweet also featured a photo of Barack Obama, who — if memory serves — was not part of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Worse yet, Nimoy is not pictured, nor — worst of all — identified by his off-screen name:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 27, 2015
Confusing Nimoy with the character he played is almost justifiable on the grounds that others have made the same mistake, most famously a half-black teenager (and, no, not Obama) who wrote to “Spock” in the 1960s. The Telegraph in its own memorial notes recalls the letter:
I know that you are half Vulcan and half human and you have suffered because of this. My mother is Negro and my father is white and I am told this makes me a half-breed. In some ways I am persecuted even more than the Negro. The Negroes don’t like me because I don’t look like them. The white kids don’t like me because I don’t exactly look like one of them either.
As for Obama mugging for the camera (once again!), the question is no longer whether he will insinuate himself into a eulogy for a person of note who has died but rather how he will choose to be pictured. Among my personal favorites is the photo Obama commissioned on learning of the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong:
A picture may say a thousand words, but as long as Obama is president, they will all be “me.”
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