August 26, 2012

2016 Movie - Food for Thought

I watched the Dinesh D'Souza film 2016-Obama's America yesterday with family and friends. My brother and father were the driving force and dad thought it so important we all see it that he paid for all of us. Having been cautioned by JK's distaste for D'Souza's conspiratism I was eager to see and hear for myself what evidence Dinesh presents, and what hypothesis he has formed.

As a starting point I read this critical review by Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan. His instinct is to dismiss it as a rehash of prior Obama hatred, but some of his dissmissals ring hollow.

As readers of the Forbes article know, the central thesis of "2016" is that Obama's worldview -- his "compass," as D'Souza calls it -- was largely shaped by the anti-colonialist, anti-white and anti-Christian politics of Obama's supposedly radical Kenyan father. Never mind that Obama, growing up, spent precious little time with the man, who for most of his son's early life was estranged from Obama's mother. D'Souza trots out a professional psychologist to speculate on how the senior Obama's absence reinforced his influence, rather than weakened it.

D'Souza makes it all sound almost plausible, but only if you're predisposed to believe that Obama hates America. It's bashing, all right, but with a velvet-gloved fist.

What is glossed over here is how he makes it sound plausible. That explanation is omitted and replaced with a cautionary "almost" to convince readers they need not bother to evaluate the plausability on their own. D'Souza explains that Obama's worldview was constructed not in the image of his absentee father, rather in the idealized image of him portrayed by his mother. Ann Dunham, an almost completely overlooked component of Barack's formative years, was as anti-American, or at least anti-capitalist and anti-"colonialist" as they come. So says D'Souza. He supports this claim with multiple facts. He concludes that diminishing America's influence in the world, in effect punishing America for its colonial heritage, is fully consistent with many of the previously inexplicable acts of President Obama: To repair America's "plunder" of foreign resources he gave billions of American taxpayer's dollars to Brazil and others to build up those nations' oil industries; to push back present-day colonialism he has sided with Argentina over Great Britain in the Falklands conflict; his mideast policy arguably reflects a prejudice against western influence in favor of native rule, whatever that may happen to become. Actions as seemingly unimportant as returning a bust of Winston Churchill and presenting gag gifts to the Queen of England also betray a lifelong hatred for that country, the once great colonial power which had colonized and "exploited" his father's native land - Kenya.

In the film D'Souza also shows how then candidate Obama diverted attention from these beliefs and tendencies by suggesting his goal was a racial reconciliation within America. When longtime mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright's anti-Americanism threatened to derail his campaign, Barack gave a nationally televised speech on race relations and distanced himself from the anti-colonialist values. And when other formative influences were called into question his campaign skillfully portrayed them as good-ol American leftists rather than the world socialists they would likely call themselves. When the President lectures America about the unfairness of the "one percenters" Americans think of wealthy corporate titans standing unapologetically on the shoulders of the working or "middle" class. But to a world socialist, EVERY American is a one-percenter, right down to the homeless shelter or overpass dweller who may freely beg for change and sleep opon the paved streets of American cities, free from scourges like disease, garbage dumps and open sewage running through the streets of a typical third-world village, always with ready access to medical treatment-on-demand in the shiny hospitals of the most prosperous nation on earth.

My opinion of the validity of D'Souza's original conclusions is buttressed by Elizabeth Reynolds' 'D'Souza's "Rage" a Middling Psychoanalysis' in The Dartmouth Review. After labeling Dinesh as an "ultra-conservative member of the Dartmouth Class of 1983" and praising Obama's book 'Dreams From My Father' she presents a fair, perhaps more fair than she intended, interpretation of the facts in D'Souza's book. Her conclusion:

Perhaps D'Souza's anti-colonial theory does help explain, as the Weekly Standard put it, Obama's omnipotence at home and impotence abroad. It is a matter of the reader's opinion. Regardless, D'Souza brings something new to the table with his latest book. It seems clear to me that D'Souza has done his research, with his extensive history of colonial Africa and insightful background information on Obama's early life. His concept of investigating the impact of Barack Obama's father had potential, but I'm afraid that D'Souza's conclusion, that Obama is trying to essentially destroy America, ultimately takes it too far.

Ironically, it is Reynolds who takes it too far for "essentially destroying America" is not D'Souza's claimed goal for Barack Obama. He merely wants to diminish our nation, not destroy it. The call to action at the end of the film? Every American must decide for himself if America should be diminished - and vote accordingly.

2012 Election History Obama Administration Philosophy Review Corner Posted by JohnGalt at August 26, 2012 12:43 PM

So -- how many stars?

I heard some very positive things about the movie over the weekend. And I cannot claim that D'Souza is out of bounds on many of his claims. Kudlow had him on and marveled that our wealthy president would not give $50,000 to his brother.

Where I will not back down and welcome you to disagree is that this feeds into the "let's pick out the nicest guy and vote for him" style of selection. I tell my Facebook friends I'd vote for a total bastard if he supported my preferred policies. An Obama supporter's response to “2016” will likely be "did not!" or "George Bush was worse!" or some such nonsense.

Then do you want to argue about whether Barack met George and what year Mitt left Bain and whether Ryan really supports the infield fly rule?

Not me, man. D'Souza, like Sandra Fluke and Todd Akin pushes the conversation toward the small. I relish the big.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2012 5:03 PM

#3 box office?

Posted by: Jk at August 26, 2012 11:36 PM

On entertainment value - 2 stars.
The music was good and the cinematography of exotic locales almost made one feel he was there. But really, how long can one enjoy listening to strange people speaking with strange accents?

On "must-see-ness" - 5 stars.
(Out of 5.) If he is right, don't you want to know?

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2012 1:20 PM

In reply to "did not" I might ask an Obama supporter why he asked a non-partisan commission (Simpson-Bowles) to develop a workable debt reduction strategy and then completely ignored their advice. "Can you tell me one reason why you believe the president seriously wants to lower the national debt?"

Big enough? Non-partisan enough?

(He [Obama] wants to raise taxes on the rich. "Okay, that's eighty billion dollars of debt reduction per year, assuming the rich agree to keep doing what they're doing. How many eighty billions are there in sixteen trillion?")

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2012 2:35 PM

Do I want to know? I don't know. Whether he is wedded to failed policies because of his academic background and ignorance (likely) or willfully wants to damage America -- does it matter?

My Dad used to correct me "you can't look into a man's heart." I think that advice may be handy here.

Then he'd suggest I get a haircut...

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2012 7:32 PM

Great review! The Refugee will likely save his money, as he does not need to be convinced of something he already believes. However, it does start a very worthwhile conversation in the broader electorate.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 27, 2012 8:21 PM

Barack Obama's academic background, such as we know of it, started at home and was reinforced by every leftist who crossed his path, either academically or socially. Barack Obama may indeed be ignorant to the efficacy of Austrian economics but not because he is an ignorant man.

I never claimed to be looking into his heart. Supposedly he showed us that himself in 'Dreams.' But there exists a tidy triangle connecting the points of the "Global Fairness" Movement, young Barack's friends and family, and President Obama's actual policies and actions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2012 11:59 AM | What do you think? [7]