Kudos to Dinesh D’Souza. He’s made a much-needed splash with his brilliant film 2016: Obama’s America, now the second-highest-grossing political documentary of all time. D’Souza has developed a plausible theory to explain the original wellsprings of Barack Obama’s worldview and amassed plenty of supporting evidence. For people who have been totally at the mercy of the liberal propaganda machine, aka mainstream media, his film is an earth-shattering revelation. But even those few who have been aware of Obama’s antecedents can’t fail to be profoundly impressed. Mr. D’Souza, an immigrant from India, is a true American patriot who has done an extremely valuable service to his adopted country.
That said, I have to disagree with the basic premise of the documentary, which is that the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s worldview is anti-colonialism inherited from his Kenyan father and that his disastrous foreign policy can be fully explained in terms of colonials’ rage against their former masters. While acknowledging the cogency and consistency of D’Souza’s theory, I think an equally strong case can be made that the worldview and policies of the 44th president of the United States have a different provenance much closer to home — that they are animated by a neo-communist ideology with a liberal admixture of black nationalism.
From early childhood, Obama was raised in an intensely anti-American environment. His anthropologist mother hated her country with a passion — so much so that when her second husband, Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, lost some of his anti-American zeal, she sent her son to Hawaii to save him from his stepfather’s pernicious influence and instructed her father to enlist his friend, Frank Marshall Davis, in the cause of mentoring young Barack. Davis, a card-carrying communist of a rabid Stalinist variety but also a black nationalist, did his job remarkably well, infusing his ward with a Marxist-cum-black separatist worldview.
In college, Obama blended eagerly into the far-left scene, as he freely attests in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father (page 101, emphasis added): “To avoid being mistaken for a sell-out, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structured feminists and punk-rock performance poets[.] … We were alienated.” It is a nearly complete catechism of a callow revolutionary.
In doing research for his recently released book The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor, Paul Kengor interviewed John Drew, a former friend of Obama during the Occidental years. John Drew stated unequivocally that Obama was a fervent Marxist-Leninist who looked toward a “proletarian revolution” in the United States.
At Columbia and Harvard, Obama was further marinated in the fashionable radical ideological stew — not exactly communism in the traditional sense, but rather radical leftism or neo-communism centered on a rabid hatred for “imperialism” — i.e., the West and above all America — and seeking to make common cause with its “victims.”
The adepts of the neo-communist ideology view the world as divided into the rich and the poor. The poor are pure and noble by virtue of being poor. The rich got rich by robbing the poor and are thus inherently evil. Redistributing the wealth of the rich North to the poor South is a legitimate goal of returning the loot to its rightful owners — in the form of reparations to the African-Americans, who in the black separatist mythology have built this country, and to the third world, who in the liberal mythology have built the wealth of the colonial powers. This idea basically boils down to Lenin’s famous motto: “Rob the robbers.” In fact, radical leftists love the imagery of Robin Hood, even though the historical Robin Hood was more than likely just a plain robber an’ hood.
But does it have anything to do with anti-colonialism? Yes, but only partly. By the time Barack Obama came of age ideologically, the anti-colonialist movement had lost much of its mojo. The Soviet Union, the movement’s chief patron and paymaster, had too many problems of its own. Bogged down in the Afghan quagmire, beset by economic woes, Moscow could no longer afford to waste its increasingly scarce resources on the third world.
Meanwhile, the sheer incompetence and brazen brutality of the nationalist heroes-turned-presidents for life in lieu of the overthrown colonial masters did much to discredit anti-colonialism. And the spectacular success achieved by a handful of underdeveloped countries, such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore, that were blessed by a lack of natural resources and therefore had to rely on free-market economics to survive, further eroded support for the anti-colonialist idea in the third world.
Lenin’s dream of fomenting unrest in the colonies to bring down the West by attacking it from the rear had failed. By the mid-’80s, the revolutionary tidal wave battering the foundations of the “imperialist system” had receded, and the third world by and large degenerated into a sorry menagerie of beggar states eking out a meager existence mostly on Western handouts.
Yet the anti-colonialist idea, though moribund, was too useful to be allowed to go to waste. It was subsumed into the larger radical movement. Solidarity with the “oppressed” peoples of the world has always been a crucial component of the ideology of the radical left. It fortified its primary motivation — hatred for its own country, animating the radical left’s propensity to view America as the culprit of first resort.
Hence the left’s instinctive urge to blame America first and its endless eagerness to exonerate third-world hoodlums, explaining away their crimes as an understandable reaction to the depredations of the “imperialists.” Hence the left’s wishy-washy attitude toward the terrorists who openly proclaim their goal of destroying the West and its reluctance even to call them terrorists.
Obama’s all too obvious affinity for Muslims stems from this frame of mind rather than from his anti-colonialist leanings. His vision was not inherited from his father; it was drummed into him by his far-left mentors. None of his like-minded friends and allies has any anti-colonialist antecedents. But all of them share his attitude that has nothing to do with resentment toward the erstwhile colonial masters, but everything to do with the left’s hatred for its own country and the capitalist system.
This infatuation of the liberal elites with the third world is in fact the latest permutation of that hardy perennial of revolutionary romanticism — glorification of the noble savage, dating back all the way to the Age of Enlightenment. Why do the leftists delight in castigating and mocking Christianity but give a wide berth to Islam? No doubt partly out of fear of physical retribution from the adherents of the “religion of peace.” But also because Christianity is identified with the West, while Islam is identified with the third world and is thus off limits to criticism.
But what about Obama’s colorful official biography? I believe that it is a contrivance created to further his political ambitions and make him look more interesting. Why else would his literary agent, Acton & Dystel, advertize him as a Kenyan-born author from 1991 until that time in 2007 when he began preparing for a presidential run and needed to sanitize his biography and tone down its foreign elements? As a twofer, a black and an African, he was doubly appealing to the romantic leftists who willingly climbed into bed with this con man artfully playing them for suckers. But once he set his sights on the presidency, it was time to discard his old multicultural skin as a cosmopolitan bestriding continents and emerge as a homespun politician of the neo-communist persuasion.