D'Souza Can't Quite Accept the Real Obama
In 2016: Obama's America, the most successful and artful conservative documentary to date, author and producer Dinesh D'Souza takes a step closer to exposing the real Barack Obama. To get there, however, he will have to remove the obstacles he has set in his own way.
"Obama came out of nowhere," says D'Souza at the film's beginning. "No one really knew him." The reason why no one knew him was simple enough. Obama discouraged the media from looking. The major media obliged, and their conservative counterparts in New York and Washington, fearing ridicule, honored this absurd gentleman's agreement.
D'Souza was one such gentleman. A Dartmouth grad, he shows up regularly on TV talk shows and serves now as president of King's College in New York City. As such, he cannot afford to stray too far from approved paths. In 2016, D'Souza takes a calculated step off that path, and for that I commend him and recommend the film.
"There a lot of mysterious black holes around Obama," D'Souza told Denver radio host Peter Boyles last week.
Although the film is a serious improvement over the book on which it is based, The Roots of Obama's Rage, D'Souza stubbornly refuses to explore some of those holes.
In the book, D'Souza argued that that Barack Obama, Sr. was "first and foremost" an anti-colonialist and that his son was, too. Both assertions are arguably true. What is not true, but what was absolutely essential to D'Souza's thesis, is that Obama inherited the philosophy and its attendant rage from his absent father. The movie, happily, gives us a broader look at Obama's formation, including an expanded role for his grandfather; his mother, Ann Dunham; and his communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.
Unhappily, the thesis of D'Souza's book and movie rests on a series of false premises. In the book, there is remarkably little talk about Obama's mother, Ann Dunham. The reader sees her only as "Obama Sr.'s first convert" to anti-colonialism. "Obama's mother made sure that her son chose the direction of his biological father," D'Souza writes. "And her preference sunk in."
To make his case, D'Souza tells the reader of Ann's "white-bread upbringing in the Midwest" but fully ignores her adolescent evolution in Seattle into a garden-variety leftist with an anti-American grudge. That she met Obama Sr. in Russian class tells us where Ann was heading even before they met.
In the new introduction to the paperback of Obama's Rage, D'Souza elaborates, "Repeatedly, unceasingly, [Ann] convinced her son that he should develop his father's values and identity in imitation of the senior Obama." According to D'Souza, Obama shares this fact with the reader in both of his books, the acclaimed 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father and the 2006 policy book The Audacity of Hope.
This is simply false. In Audacity, the mother never talks about the father. The closest we get is this: "I knew him only through the letters he sent and the stories my mother and grandparents told." What is more, we learn that the values Ann shared with Obama were not his father's, but those of the American civil rights movement. "Whenever the opportunity presented itself," Obama writes, "she would drill into me the values that she saw there: tolerance, equality, standing up for the disadvantaged."
In the more biographical Dreams, Obama's mother and grandparents try to make the fatherless son proud of his heritage, but the stories they tell are of a bold, flamboyant, larger-than-life African prince, not of an anti-colonialist flamethrower.
Ann had little idea what Obama Sr.'s anti-colonial views may have been. The evidence suggests a relationship between her and Obama Sr. not much deeper than a one-night stand. As is solidly documented, Ann and young Barry showed up in Seattle weeks after Obama's August 1961 birth and lived there for about a year while Obama Sr. remained in Hawaii.
D'Souza cannot yet to come to terms with this. In the movie, he flirts with fraud in his continued insistence that, despite all evidence, Obama Sr. and Ann lived together for a year. Last week on KHOW in Denver, Boyles challenged D'Souza on this issue.
When Boyles called Obama's claim of being abandoned by his father at age two "a provable lie," D'Souza snapped back, "That is not a provable lie." He then volunteered the novel theory that Ann moved back to Hawaii after the first quarter at the University of Washington in fall 1961 and quite possibly saw Obama Sr. off to Harvard in June 1962. As sources, D'Souza cited Sally Jacobs of the Boston Globe, who wrote a book on Obama's father, and Janny Scott of the New York Times, who wrote a book on Obama's mother.
In fact, neither author endorses D'Souza's claim. Both offer an alternative cover story -- namely, that the couple lived together until Ann left for Seattle in the spring of 1962. As partisans, Jacobs and Scott manipulated evidence to support Obama's fiction of a happy multicultural family. D'Souza continues to manipulate evidence to preserve his own fiction of an anti-colonialism passed from father to son.
When I heard D'Souza on Boyles' show, I began to sense how deep was the divide between the establishment media, left or right, and the citizen-journalists in the blogosphere. "I am grateful for people who do research," D'Souza told Boyles, but he did not really mean it. My colleagues and I had confirmed by 2009 that the Obama origins story was false. D'Souza ignored that research in his 2010 book and in his 2012 movie and still prevaricates when confronted by nervy radio hosts like Peter Boyles.
Needless to say, D'Souza will have nothing to do with my contention that Bill Ayers assisted Obama with the writing of Dreams. I have argued that the scholarly Ayers imposed the Homeric "search for the father" structure on Dreams and lent Obama his "rage." If I am correct, D'Souza's theory fully collapses. So he simply ignores my thesis or casually dismisses it when questions about it are raised.
In speaking with Boyles, D'Souza argued that researchers into Obama have a "heavy burden of proof" and ought not speculate until they can meet that burden. Of course, his own thesis is deeply speculative. I don't fault him for that. The major media have used their power to suppress the truth about Obama. A researcher like D'Souza has to work around them. Where I do fault D'Souza is his refusal to even acknowledge the research done in the blogosphere. That refusal has gotten him in trouble when he appears on local talk shows where the hosts know more than he does.
More troubling is the willingness of D'Souza and his colleagues in the established conservative media to join in the suppression. For the most part, they will not touch issues like Obama's Social Security number, the birth certificate, his passport and travel inconsistencies, his dubious parentage, his radical affiliations, his school records, or the authorship question. More often than not, they ridicule those who raise these issues, often without knowing what the issues are.
Respectable conservatives in media, D'Souza included, have largely wasted the last six years. I cannot recall a single fact about Obama that they discovered. Had they been bolder, had they used their access and their clout to encourage research and follow the truth wherever it led, the election would not now be in doubt.