Sunday, August 19, 2012

2016 Obama's America

In the late Summer of 1994 I headed off to seminary in Due West, South Carolina, renting an apartment in nearby Abbevlle. Since I moved in several weeks before classes actually started I made use of the luxury of a nearby seminary library to do some reading; somewhere in the stacks -- possibly in the college section -- I stumbled across Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education. I'd heard of D'Souza before but this was my first serious exposure to his work and I was impressed with his analysis, thoughts, and cogency. I've followed him through the years with much approbation and not a little jealousy -- he did, after all, once date the lovely and brilliant Laura Ingraham, but I digress.

When I started hearing of the release of 2016: Obama's America last month on The Michael Berry Show I knew that I needed to see it when it came to the area. It opened in three South Carolina theaters on 17 August, but sadly the closest one is Columbia at present (there is a possibility that it may be coming to the Lowcountry at some point in the near future), so up I-26 I trekked this afternoon. 

This is an exceptionally well made movie. It's engaging, interesting, and profoundly disturbing.  Based on the premise that most people do not know exactly who the 44th President of the United States is, D'Souza sets out to discover exactly that and to gain an idea of what his formative influences were. Noting the uncanny similarities between himself and President Obama (they were born in the same year, Ivy League educated, spent part or all of their youths in Asia, were influenced by an anti-colonial mindset, graduated from college the same year, and were married the same year -- among others), D'Souza presents a not-unsympathic look at the forces that formed Obama.

Despite the fact that his first biography was entitled Dreams From My Father, it's clear that Barack Obama, Sr, was present in the life of his young son more as an idea than a true influence -- they had practically no contact save for a visit when he was roughly ten years of age and a brief period of correspondence after that, but yet in a very real way he was always there, held up as an idealized role model by his mother Stanley Ann Dunham -- the radical daughter of a radical father whose influence on his life cannot be underestimated. Following his parents' divorce and his mother's remarriage to Lolo Soetoro and a move to Indonesia, his mother was disappointed when his step-father turned out to be too establishment, happily accepting promotions and social invitations as his career advanced. This strained the relationship and young Barry was sent to live with his grandparents in Hawaii where a newspaperman and card-carrying Communist named Frank Marshall Davis was drafted by his grandfather as a role model for him.

D'Souza visits the places where Obama grew up, interviewing friends and family members to discern what the formative influences were on the man who currently sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. If you're looking for claims that Obama was born in Kenya, or that he's a Muslim, or that Frank Marshall Davis is actually his father, look on. If you're wanting to learn more about the "Choom Gang" and the President's youthful drug use, this won't fit the bill either. What D'Souza does accomplish is presenting a believable case for the anti-imperialistic, anti-colonial, far-left convictions of the father being transferred to the son, reflecting how he governs. Should President Obama win another four years in the White House, D'Souza is convinced that the country will look far different than it does today -- a weakened country where government redistribution of wealth has taken place on an unprecedentedly large scale -- when Obama speaks of the 1% and the 99% he doesn't mean within American society but worldwide, meaning that is is very intentionally weakening the position of the United States in a pursuit of what he perceives to be justice.

Regardless of what your thoughts are on Barack Obama -- whether you supported him in 2008 or not and regardless of whether you're planning to support him in November -- you will learn something from this movie. I encourage you to see it.