Latest posts by Jay Lehr (see all)
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Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary film, 2012: Obama’s America, which tracks his outstanding book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, makes it clear through Barack Obama’s own words and writings and those of his family and mentors that a very different America from the one we’ve known is the planned end result of this man’s presidency if allowed to serve a second term.
D’Souza, the president of King’s College in New York City, was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and knew poverty and learned firsthand of the legacy of colonialism, its despair, and its contributions. He understands Obama’s history and heritage as few can. D’Souza’s film documents the making of a man intent on changing the United States into a system of government and a society gleaned from little more than a mythological view of a father he barely knew.
Every elected official of our nation needs to see this movie to better understand the disastrous path upon which we have embarked by the force of a brilliant but misguided personality. This is a president with an unusual game plan and a strange business plan, as D’Souza makes clear in explaining the whys and wherefores of many policies Obama has advocated.
The real Obama this film reveals is a man shaped by experiences far different from those of most Americans; he is much stranger, more determined, and exponentially more dangerous to our constitutional freedoms than one could imagine. He is not motivated by the civil rights struggles of African-Americans in the 1960s, which did not touch him. He is not motivated by the socialist or Marxist propaganda that hypnotized an entire generation of academics. What does motivate him is an inherited rage against Western dominance and the wealth and power of the very nation he now governs.
Illusions from Obama’s Father
D’Souza takes us around the world to the places that shaped Obama’s life. He travels to Hawaii, where Obama was born, and then on to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he lived four years with his stepfather after his father divorced his mother from faraway Kenya, then on to Kenya to talk to Obama’s extended family and half-brother George, who bears him no malice for leaving him in a tin shack but intelligently explains his complete disagreement with Obama’s anti-colonialism spawned from the little he knows of their father. Obama spent but a few days with his father during a single visit he made to Hawaii, but D’Souza shows through expert testimony how Obama’s father’s life was inaccurately aggrandized by his mother and relatives in Kenya.
At each location on the globe, D’Souza telephones experts in these nations’ issues and their impact on Obama while his film crews simultaneously film him on his cell phone and the individual he is calling on theirs so that you can hear and see both ends of the conversation. It’s an unusual and effective piece of cinematography.
The film shows the man we knew during his presidential campaign—a centrist promising change—has been replaced by a detached, enigmatic man not even well known to his advisors and certainly the least-known President this nation has ever elected.
Obama insisted that his policies were aimed at rescuing the economy, but his radical actions on energy, the environment, education, and health care have had nothing at all to do with the financial crisis. Clearly, there is more to Obama’s agenda. D’Souza identifies this thinking through film footage of Obama’s speeches, such as his inauguration speech in which he describes his “remaking of America” and voiceovers of Obama reading his autobiography, Dreams From My Father.
Ideas, Not Conspiracies
Concurrently, D’Souza rejects right-wing conspiracy-mongers’ claims that Obama is an undercover Muslim and not a U.S. citizen. His birth on August 4, 1961 is verified in two local Honolulu newspapers, the director notes.
2016 is about ideas, not conspiracies. D’Souza’s argument is that the anti-colonial ideology of Obama’s African father led him from a very young age to see America as a force for global domination.
The film traces a month-long trip Obama made to his father’s home in Kenya, long after his death, to learn more about this man he revered from a distance. D’Souza shows Obama senior to be anything but a role model. He had three wives, and a wife-to-be, and eight children, all of whom he neglected. He drank to excess and was an extremely reckless driver who was involved in several accidents, in which he killed at least one man and caused the amputation of both his legs before finally getting into a fatal wreck himself.
What gave dignity and depth, however, to Barack Sr. in the eyes of his son was that he was part of a much larger movement to build a free and independent Africa in the aftermath of colonial rule. (We all know how well that worked out.)
Africa was not the only important foreign influence in the future president’s life. Obama lived with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia for four years. The film shows that Obama’s stepfather tried to improve his family’s life in Indonesia by capitalist means. This, however, led to the end of his marriage with Obama’s mother, who was still wedded to the doctrinaire socialism she had shared with her first husband. When that marriage broke up, she sent Barack to live in Hawaii, with his grandmother. She never returned to Hawaii, passing away in 1995.
Tenured Radical Influence
Obama attended Occidental College in California before going on to Columbia University, where he studied under Edward Said, a prominent Palestinian supporter, a radical anti-colonialist, and in fact a former classmate of mine at Princeton. Obama’s writings are highly resonant with those of Said, whom Commentary magazine dubbed the Professor of Terror for his advocacy of armed aggression against Israel.
D’Souza then documents Obama’s arrival at Harvard University at the age of 27, older than most of his classmates with a maturity and carriage that quickly got him elected as president of the law review (not editor, as has often been misreported). He was in fact favored by conservatives, who saw him as not preoccupied with race, but D’Souza explains that they did not fully appreciate that his central concern was power, not race.
It is here that D’Souza is convinced that this amazing man, an amalgam of ideas his father left him and an original construct of his own making, devised a brilliant path to power. Obama studied Jesse Jackson’s earlier path to power and rejected it.
Through footage of Obama speeches, D’Souza shows how Obama became the embodiment of hope and aspiration for tens of millions of people who cheered him and voted for him. He found a way to benefit politically not just from being black but also from being a certain kind of black leader; an alternative to Jesse Jackson and others who emphasized racial anger. As on the law review, this simultaneous exploitation and rejection of race was an important source of Obama’s appeal to America’s white majority.
Emphasis on Wealth Transfers
D’Souza shows us that Obama’s brilliant idea was in figuring out a simple but effective way to advance his anti-colonial vision while winning mainstream America. He knew that there was an immense fund of white racial guilt into which he could tap to fuel his ascendancy. He figured out how to translate anti-colonial politics into a rhetoric that sounds harmless and even beneficial.
As Obama has followed the teachings of his father, they did not focus on the equalization of pure socialism but instead on placing corporate America under government control. For example, as president, Obama took to investing heavily in offshore drilling—but not, of course, drilling off of our own shores but instead investing in Brazil’s offshore drilling, with two billion of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.
The movie makes it clear that Obama will do everything he can to transfer wealth from the “colonizers” to the “colonized”—although of course in the United States neither category exists today, but whose symbolic representatives are quite clear. D’Souza establishes this through interviews with people who knew Obama early on and with experts who even-handedly explain the psychology that drives him. It is evident that Obama wants the United States to curtail its energy consumption so that developing countries such as Brazil can enjoy greater access to cheap energy. Although it is difficult to fathom a U.S. President purposely attempting to lower the nation’s standard of living D’Souza’s film makes a strong case that Obama is doing exactly that.
Living the Dreams
Thus we are today living out the script for America and the world that was dreamt up not by Barack Obama but by Obama’s father. D’Souza notes that the title of Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, indicates the real subject matter is not his father’s dreams but rather the dreams Obama received from his father, which apply to Obama’s U.S. homeland. D’Souza shows that “the most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s—a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, raging against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions.”
This philandering, inebriated, African socialist is now setting the nation’s agenda in the United States as his son makes those dreams into a baneful reality.
The reality is that anti-colonialism is dead and no one cares about it anymore except the man in the White House. 2016, Obama’s America shows that while much of the world is resolutely facing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the twenty-first century, Obama refuses to embrace the promise of that growth.
Ronald Reagan once noted that the American national anthem is the only one in the world that ends with a question: “Oh say does that Star Spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Only our nation as whole can answer that question, which D’Souza poses eloquently in this remarkable movie.