Friday, August 24, 2012

Dinesh D'souza and his apocalyptic film "2016 Obama's America"

I witnessed a spectacle from Orwell's 1984 tonight. Goldberg was replaced by Jeremiah Wright but a packed cinema hissed at his appearance in what is perhaps the clumsiest piece of political propaganda I have ever had the misfortune of watching. I have listened to D'Souza and thought quite highly of him going into the film but that has changed.

At the most fundamental level the premise of the movie is ridiculous. It reminded of attempts to psychoanalyze Hitler using Mein Kampf and other historical research. The problem with D'souza's film is that his ominous warnings about who Obama really is are uninteresting and/or factually incorrect.

Let's start with a simple argument D'souza makes by implication, namely that Obama sympathyzes with jihadists and that's why he wants to "give them civil rights and close Guantanamo Bay". This statement drew the obligatory collective gasp from the theater of white hair but as a zealous advocate for the rule of law, trial by jury and other revolutionary concepts I can assure you that Obama has done neither of these things(and if he had so what?). What is strange to me is that I can't be the only one in the cinema who is aware that Obama has aggressively followeed the Bush Justice Department's lead on suspected terrorists. Attorney General Eric Holder's subordinates have vigorously opposed all attempts to grant Constitutional protections to detainees at Gitmo and it's still open for business.

A Jeremiah Wright sermon clip which showed the obligatory "God damn America" statement is no more revolutionary than an essay by Noam Chomsky and from a theological point of view not even conroversial. A nation that has wantonly bombed and pillaged every corner of the globe can hardly be expected to enjoy the favor and protection of a God whose theology is grounded in the concepts of self sacrifice and love.

In an interview clip of D'souza promoting his book on which the film is based he says he has a "new card to lay on the table about Obama". D'souza's "new card" is that Obama's worldview is shaped by the anticolonialist notions of his absent Kenyan father who was an "advisor" to the revolutionaries who kicked the British out of Kenya. Thus, stay with me here, Obama, in a futile attempt to win the affection or approval of his now dead father, is also an anticolonialist and therefore secretly trying to cut off America's strength at the knees. The premise that America was and is a colonial power/superpower is old hat. I read Edward Said (also listed ominously as one of Obama's "founding fathers")at the Univeristy of Cincinnati. It would be impossible for anyone to receive an Ivy League educaton and not be exposed to the scholarship of colonialism of which Said is a pillar.

Another one of Obama's deep, dark secrets is that his grandfather's friend ("his chosen mentor" as D'souza characterizes him) was on a list of radicals the FBI "could have detained in the event of a war with the Soviet Union". News flash, I'm probably on that list too. What literate person didn't join the Communist and or Socialist Party in their youth? In Sweden there is a saying "if you're not red in your twenties you've got no heart and if you're not blue in your 40's you've got no brains". Wasn't the ultra right wing "Project for a New American Century" founded by a group of ex-Marxists?

As for Obama's plan to destroy America's military has D'sousa ever heard of Ron Paul? Is he a socialist/jihadi sympathizer too? I am astonished that the notion of downsizing the world's largest military with 900 plus overseas bases is controversial. Shame on you Dinesh D'souza, the only possible motivation I can see for this horriby made, poorly researched, unentertaining, badly edited piece of garbage is money. His production cost couldn't have topped $50,000 so he's going to make a shitload of money. Too bad he will never be taken seriously again.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

David Barton and Ayatollah Khomeini agree...

Day one of the new house. Landline internet and a desktop for the fist time in many years. I heard a story about David Barton on NPR yesterday. Pretty hostile tone, "not a historian etc." It brings to mind the critiques of Jonah Goldberg when he wrote "Liberal Fascism". I'm not sure what exactly a "real historian" is. Those in the ivory tower of academia seem just as likely as a lay person ignore evidence which conflicts with an emotional attachment to a position.

Steph and I ar trying to decide where to send the kids, or if we will send them at all, to school. We are enrolled in the K-12 Virtual Academy for Xander, thus the desktop computer, but planning to visit Miami Valley Academy next Friday. Dayton-Christian is less than a mile away and our home district is pretty decent.

The David Barton piece on NPR caught my attention because he was apparently involved in a change to the Texas primary school curriculum in 2010. Barton seeks to restore the strong role of the Bible in the Founding Fathers documents and day-to-day lives.

This is a very touchy subject in America. Having been subjected to a nearly useless American education I tend to think that whatever changes Barton is advocating and implementing can only be an improvement. I am a historian by education. I am baffled by the notion of whitewashing history to fit the current ideological undertone of the culture.

Religion is irrelevant in this debate. Whether one is a Muslim, Christian, Atheist or Hindu one is not served by the fallacy that the founding fathers were anything but Bible believing Christians. I do not believe in the infallibility of any religious text per se and this is where I would most likely differ from Barton or any orthodox believer. But to pretend that Christianity was not a massive underlying force in the creation of the United States is akin to deleting Gandhi from the Indian independence movement or Islam from the Iranian revolution of 1979.

We will differ on our religious and political beliefs forever. Let's not succumb to the temptation to rewrite history whenever the culture shifts. Just as the uprisings in the 60's were a backlash against the pervasive Judeo-Christian norms in a Euro-Centric West so too is the Evangelical backlash in the United States a rightful uprising against the Orwellian effacing of Christian texts from the teaching of history.

Even the most dyed in the wool Atheist must concede that parts of the United States Constitution were taken from the Old Testamant. In an era of Islamophobia it is perhaps unpalatable to acknowledge that Sharia may have existed in the United States for over 200 years.

According to Wikipedia:

Sharia, in its strictest definition, is a divine law, as expressed in the Qur'an and Muhammad's example (often called the sunnah).

If this horrendous affront to civilization called Sharia is to be exterminated it would not behoove those in the camp advocating such a policy to acknowledge that U.S. law, specifically the Constitution may in fact be a form of Sharia.

The apparent irony here is that in my mind it is the liberals who are opposed to the notion that the U.S. may have religious ancestry in its legal system but open to the acceptability of a religious based legal system in other cultures. Conservatives, on the other hand, strenuously advocate:

1. The infallibility of teh Bible and the Constitution 2. The interconnectedness of those two documents. 3. The inherent dangers of Sharis (creeping Sharia) being established in the middle ease, Europe and America.

Is it safe to assume that those who advocate Sharia in the middle east would not agree that the United States has a form of Sharia in place? Are David Barton and Ahmendinajad really ideological allies and would either of them be comfortable with such a characterization?