Dinesh D’Souza is so enamored with his fantastical analysis of Barack Obama as a haunted puppet of his Kenyan father that the story enjoys two printings in Forbes magazine. The first on Sept. 9 entitled “How Obama Thinks”and a second story essentially the same, though a bit shorter on Sept. 18 entitled “Obama’s Problem with Business”. D’Souza’s major attack on Obama is that his ideas are based in “tribal anti-colonialism.”
D’Souza spends a great deal of copy discussing the concepts of anti-colonialism. By the way, his credentials as an expert on the subject are that he was born in Mumbai, India. He accurately defines anti-colonialism as “the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America.” For virtually any high school history student this stands as more of a fact than a doctrine. The actual heart of anti- colonialist doctrine is that this was an immoral and shameful endeavor. This stands in contrast to the doctrines of manifest destiny, free markets, doctrines of the superiority of western culture, and various exceptionalist doctrines in America, Britain, France and other western nations. It is virtually impossible to deny that the West got rich by looting other countries, so the denial is generally couched in grand theories such as Manifest Destiny wherein Western profiteers are portrayed as helping the poor savages of these primitive countries by providing industry, religion and culture.
In National Review Online , Newt Gingrich says D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.” Gingrich, hawking his new movie and his revived political power goes even farther. ““I think Obama gets up every morning with a worldview that is fundamentally wrong about reality,” Gingrich says. “If you look at the continuous denial of reality, there has got to be a point where someone stands up and says that this is just factually insane.” I spent most of the 80s shaking my head in disbelief at Newt Gingrich and his ability as Speaker to categorically deny reality. But this reaches new head shaking heights. Newt ascribes profound meaning to a purely fantastical theory based on nothing more than Barack Obama sharing genetic material with his Kenyan father. Then, only a few sentences later, he accuses others of denying reality.
Let me be the someone who stands up and says this is just factually insane. But first let me point out that Gingrich and D’Souza have used the term “tribal” as a code word for inferior, primitive, undesirable. That is a grand tradition in America. White people, driven by glorious Manifest Destiny, committed colonial atrocities of genocide and theft of resources on a continental scale against “tribal anti-colonialists.” It is the great legacy of America. We then spread this successful business model around the world. The second interesting point to note here is that America, theoretically and rhetorically, stands against colonialism. America was the original anti-colonial hot-bed, fighting Britain for independence. We spent decades valiantly fighting the Soviet Union’s colonial transgressions in Eastern Europe. We are always on vigilant and well financed guard against the imperialist colonial motives and actions of Islamic nations. Aren’t we just a democratic nation only interested in spreading democracy and the good life to all nations against the encroachments of imperial powers? Well, truthfully, not. At least not unless it furthers the cause of our gathering riches and resources.
As a member of a tribe who still suffers from American colonialism, I can certainly set the minds of D’Souza and Gingrich at rest. Barack Obama does not exhibit tribal tendencies. If he did, we would definitely have a public option in our health care legislation. The standard prayer/wish in a tribal society is health, help and happiness for all. Health is the first listed. If Obama were a tribal thinker, we would not have off shore drilling, strip mining, clear cutting of forests, mining of uranium, nuclear production of energy, and a host of other policies and activities that destroy the earth and our fellow inhabitants of the earth. Because tribal thinking rests upon the basic premise that everything is related. The Earth is alive and must be respected and cared for carefully. Indigenous tribes represent around 6% of the world’s population and have not only a zero environmental footprint, they actually have a positive footprint.
White imperialistic thinkers like Newt Gingrich have no concept whatever of tribal thinking and have no desire to. His accusation against Barack Obama is part of a centuries old smear campaign to relegate anyone who disagrees with imperialist American policies to an undesirable category. A category synonymous with bestiality, violence, ignorance, and history. Most important is to relegate them to history. D’Souza spends a great deal of time discussing how outdated these tribal anti-colonialist ideas are, and Gingrich is clear that Obama is living in a long dead past out of touch with current affairs. Merely being tribal relegates one to history, with no voice in the modern world. The 300 million indigenous peoples from 5,000 tribal groups inhabiting 72 countries are familiar with these attempts to discredit their voices and relegate them to history. It is a centuries old tactic. Finally, like the Tea Party, he has hitched his current political star to, Newt has truly followed in the spirit of the founding fathers using racism and invented privilege to justify the unjust imperial actions of the wealthy and privileged at the expense of the whole. It’s not even a new “contract with America”; it is the same racist drivel that arrived with first white people to this land of tribal ant colonialists.
What I find most interesting is that, as far as I know and correct me if I’m wrong, but D’Souza and Gingrich never deny that the west got rich by looting poor countries. It seems like they only mock the notion that poor countries deserve any recompense.
Of course, I agree that Obama’s not anti-colonialist, and even himself believes in American exceptionalism. I’m glad you pointed out the use of the word “tribal.” Something about the term “tribal anti-colonialist” besies the general bothered me, but I could never put my finger on it.
So here we have Obama’s “tribal” re: African “anti-colonialism”; his denial of reality; and an entire group of people who’ve knowingly voted against their own economic interests blaming a president of less than 2 years of a financial fiasco that began before the last election. And they swell with indignation at merely a request to deny racism. To prove their race-neutral bonafides, they’re even willing to step aside to allow their black friends mic time to attest to their racial tolerance.
Forgive me for calling bull on this “con.”
You are so correct about the lack of denial in accumulating riches. I have watched Newt for decades and have been amazed by the same things you are noticing. He doesn’t even bother to defend the privileged, he blithely assumes there is no need for defense. He is unapologetically in favor of the wealthy controlling the wealth.
The most striking thing is that he garners support among those who will never come close to benefitting from the policies he espouses. His ability to get people to place their prejudice above their pocketbooks is stunning and it is dangerous.
Most dangerous is his ability to calmly deny reality with any handy fiction, hence his latching on to D’Souza’s ‘theory’.
Yeah, that “tribal” thing really sounds bad and patronizing as in a “He can’t help do wrong because of his race” mentality. I was with you on not being able to pinpoint why it was bad but cringing every time I heard someone say it.
Gingrich is the most calculated and opertunistic politician I can think of. He will say whatever he has to to get into power and do whatever he can to stay in power. That guy just scares me.
With all these highly funded right-wing activists, I think things are going to get worse before they get better in the USA. Especially if you are a minority or a female.
D’Souza has become an aggressive defender of whites, and the systemic racism of the US, now for a long time, as in his earlier mythological book, The End of Racism. He is aggressive in his denial of reality. There he argued that black middle class folks are pathological because they report much racism in their everyday lives — which he ‘knows’ does not exist. He also argues black Americans should be grateful that white slavers brought them out of Africa to ‘civilization.’
He ‘knows’ that in the same way being born in Mumbai makes him an expert on anti-colonialism I suppose.
I wonder if Native Americans should be grateful that white slavers brought us genocide, disease, destruction of the land, pollution, reservations and racism.
As my friend, the wife of a Lakota chief says regularly “Not only is civilization barbaric, it is vastly overrated.”
It seems like civilization has always been barbaric. We hail Greek and Roman antiquity as the genesis of our vaunted Western culture; but, mighty Rome didn’t get that way through diplomacy. They engaged in war and, one would assume, barbarism.
And the idea that Africans weren’t civilized came about only after the West realized the wealth that could be gained. In fact, even during European colonialism, it’s clear Europe didn’t take that myth as fact. So it’s racism and blithe ignorance that allows defenders of white supremacy to make that argument today.
Ignorance wedded to greed will serve as a shield against reason almost every time.