Leader of Papua New Guinea Responds To Biden’s ‘Cannibal’ Comment

(IntegrityPress.org) – President Joe Biden appeared to claim that his uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, was eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea in the 1940’s, much to the displeasure of the country’s Prime Minister James Marape.

As part of a visit to the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pennsylvania, the president stopped at a nearby war memorial, ostensibly to pay his respects. While there, he told the crowd that his Republican rival Donald Trump was unfit to serve as president again, and discussed his own family’s military service record, including that of his uncle.

Finnegan acted as a reconnaissance pilot during World War II and is understood to have died in 1944 when his plane crashed on Papua New Guinea, one half of the island of New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. In telling the story, Biden claimed that his uncle’s body was never recovered because “there were a lot of cannibals” on the island at the time.

Although some tribes of Papua New Guinea have in the past practiced ritualistic cannibalism as part of their funeral rites, there is no evidence that Ambrose Finnegan’s body was eaten, according to the U.S. defense department. Prime Minister Marape expressed unhappiness at the president’s association of Papua New Guinea with cannibals and suggested that the U.S. authorities should visit his country, which he said was “scattered” with “the remains of World War II”. Marape invited the U.S. to clear as much of the wreckage as possible, and in so doing, said that they may be able to find the bodies of Finnegan and other servicemen. He added that his people are still living with the legacy of the war and must live their lives in fear of coming across unexploded bombs from the conflict.

Pres. Biden’s gaffe comes at a time when the U.S. is trying to strengthen its diplomatic relationship with possible allies in the Pacific in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region. China currently has a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, near to Papua New Guinea, and recently sent their Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, to meet with Marape.

A spokesperson for the White House responded to Marape’s remarks by claiming that Biden “respects the people and culture of Papua New Guinea” and tried to frame Biden’s anecdote as a way of “[making] the case for honoring our sacred commitment to equip those we send to war”.

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