Last night, responding to attacks on the American embassy in Egypt and consulate in Libya in which the ambassador to Libya and several other Americans were killed, Mitt Romney released a statement slamming President Obama for "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks." Romney was referencing a statement put out by the embassy in Egypt before the attacks which condemned an anti-Islam film that was the pretext for riots in Cairo and Benghazi.
Foreign policy experts (Republicans among them) have criticized Romney's timing and journalists have pointed out that the attack itself "does not stand up to simple chronology." But the content of the message -- that the president is sympathetic to people who attack and kill Americans -- is noteworthy in that it is a direct echo of the fevered and inflammatory smears aimed at the president by fringe elements of the right-wing media.
Indeed, Romney's statement was almost a word-for-word rehash of an accusation leveled against Obama by Dinesh D'Souza in his documentary film, 2016: Obama's America -- a slipshod, pseudo-intellectual smear job that's drawn condemnation from across the ideological spectrum. In the film, D'Souza argues that Obama inherited a "Third World collectivist" worldview from his deceased father that he is secretly implementing in order to reduce America's global stature, which leads the president to be "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis" captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is obvious nonsense, given the administration's record on terrorism, but it appeals to the slice of the population that already believe that Obama is foreign and dangerous and a threat to the country. This inflammatory gibberish -- along with the long-standing canard that the president constantly "apologizes for America" -- has risen all the way from the right-wing fever swamp and is now animating high-level Republican political strategy on foreign policy.
It's a jarring reminder that the fringe, while not always visible, has a distressingly high amount of influence on national politics.
This past weekend I went to see 2016: Obama's America, the new documentary by right-wing author Dinesh D'Souza that opened nationwide after a limited release last month. I saw it twice, in fact, in two different theaters and chatted with a few fellow movie-goers to get their impressions of the film. And even though 2016 is rife with basic factual errors and logical inconsistencies, and steps on its own anti-Obama message with moments of unintentional comedy, the faithful that the movie preaches to love it, warts and all.
The most charitable thing I can say about 2016 is that it's poorly timed. The movie argues that President Obama's true ideology (inherited from his absentee father) is a "failed Third-World collectivism" that seeks to reduce America's stature in the world, as evidenced (in part) by Obama's determination to "lower NASA's horizons" so that it no longer exists as a symbol of American greatness. And this might be a compelling argument had NASA not just successfully deposited a Volkswagen-sized robot with a rock-vaporizing laser on the surface of Mars a few weeks ago.
Similarly, D'Souza's film argues that this "Third-World anti-American" viewpoint of the president's leads him to be "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis" captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, outside the movie theaters, news broke this weekend of an air strike that killed a senior Taliban official in Pakistan. (The obvious counterexample, Osama bin Laden's demise, doesn't merit mention in the film)
But again, to merely point out these untimely real-world inconsistencies is to do this movie a favor. 2016 is an outgrowth of D'Souza's 2010 book, The Roots Of Obama's Rage, a controversial and much-derided tome in which D'Souza laid out his hypothesis that Obama's actions are best explained by the aforementioned "collectivist" worldview he inherited from Barack Obama Sr. As Slate's Dave Weigel pointed out after viewing the movie's July premier, some of the blatantly false and risible elements of Roots didn't make it into 2016, but there's still plenty of nonsense to fill out an 89-minute documentary.
Conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza appeared on Fox & Friends to hype his latest book and companion feature-length movie spreading myths about President Obama. During his appearance, D'Souza pushed the falsehoods that Obama spent a decade as a "close buddy" of Bill Ayers and that Obama went on an international "apology tour" for America.
It's not surprising that D'Souza would be pushing falsehoods about Obama. After all, D'Souza explained during his Fox appearance that the thesis of his new book and movie is that Obama has some sort of "anti-colonial" world view, handed down to him by his father and mentors, that acts as the motivation behind his actions and policies as president. It is just another form of birtherism, albeit a more highbrow variety of the ongoing conservative conspiracy theory.
Moreover, D'Souza's anti-colonial theory rest on a long series of falsehoods about Obama such as the claims that "Obama launched" the TARP program, that Obama started going by his given name Barack to adopt his father's "African identity," and that Obama supported the release of a Lockerbie bomber from Scottish prison.
But none of these falsehoods mattered to Fox, which aired a clip from D'Souza's movie and complained that "the Hollywood left" was attacking the movie as "feature-length Obama hate."
The marketing materials for the upcoming film 2016: Obama's America claim that it "takes audiences on a gripping visual journey into the heart of the world's most powerful office to reveal the struggle of whether one man's past will redefine America over the next four years." If the movie is anything like its source material, we can expect it will be a mostly fraudulent journey.
The movie is based on Dinesh D'Souza's book The Roots Of Obama's Rage, which received high praise from people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, neither of whom have shown any qualms about promoting outright lies, distortions, and outlandish claims in the past.
The New York Times reports that the film is partially financed by billionaire investor Joe Ricketts, who previously considered financing a multimillion dollar political ad campaign linking the racially charged rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright to President Obama.
From the October 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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In place of Glenn Beck, Fox News ran a special by John Stossel on "What's Great About America." When it became clear that the special would include a segment on race relations, we had some fear.
After all, Stossel has called for repeal of the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits hotels and restaurants from discriminating on the basis of race. He has attacked the government for apologizing for widespread discrimination by the Department of Agriculture. He has mocked affirmative action programs by holding an "affirmative action bake sale" in which members of different races are charged different prices for baked goods. He has even suggested that employers should be allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities.
And our fears were not unjustified. After disclaimers about our nation's troubling racial past, Stossel pointed out that we have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow. He also pointed out that race riots have recently occurred in other countries. He then said: "America has done remarkably well. Racial mixing is normal. One poll found that 80 percent of Americans say they have a close friend of another race."
Unmentioned by Stossel was the fact that a poll by the Democratic-leaning company Public Policy Polling found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal, compared to just 40 percent who think it should be legal. Thus, while interracial marriage has been legal across the land for more than 40 years, it is still not acceptable everywhere.
From the July 1 Fox News special What's Great About America with John Stossel:
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A couple of weeks ago, as I was reading Dinesh D'Souza's new book The Roots of Obama's Rage, I took a quick break from the merciless punishment it was inflicting on my logic centers to poke some fun at one of the more risible claims D'Souza makes -- that Obama wants to rein in NASA to prevent the realization of 19th-century British colonial magnate Cecil Rhodes' dream of colonizing space.
Yeah, he actually wrote that.
I had my fun mocking it and then got back to dismantling the rest of the ridiculous book, not really expecting the space colonization argument to pop up anywhere else.
But yesterday the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed by D'Souza titled: "Is Obama trying to 'decolonize' space?" At first I laughed, but then the realization sank in that not only had D'Souza revisited the space decolonization argument, but he made it the focus of an entire op-ed, and a mainstream newspaper agreed to publish this op-ed aware that the person who wrote it was earnestly arguing that the President of the United States wants to "decolonize" outer space in accordance with the ideology he inherited from the father he met only once as a young child.
D'Souza's theory has been discredited more times than should be necessary and slammed from both sides of the political spectrum as nativist garbage. And it's absolutely staggering that this dishonest, intellectually vacant, and on-its-face absurd rubbish has been published in two mainstream papers: first the Washington Post, and now the Christian Science Monitor.
Newspapers have an obligation to keep their readers informed, and publishing op-eds on the secret presidential plan to protect Mars from American colonial interests definitely runs counter to that goal.
From the October 10 edition of CNN'S Reliable Sources:
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My colleague Ben Dimiero has already laid out the many reasons why the Washington Post looks ridiculous by publishing Dinesh D'Souza's op-ed on President Obama's "anti-colonial" ideology (the theme of D'Souza's new, lie-filled book), but I'd like to kick in a couple more.
First, the Post isn't the only media outlet to feature D'Souza today. WorldNetDaily, the internet's buzzing hive of birtherism, published their fawning interview with D'Souza this morning, wholeheartedly endorsing his "anti-colonial" theory, which amounts to a sort of high-brow birtherism. So in publishing D'Souza, the Post has found some common ground with a website that credulously reported the "smoking gun" of Obama's (fake) Kenyan birth certificate.
Second, Howard Kurtz, the Post media critic who just defected to the Daily Beast, criticized the paper on Twitter this morning, asking why the paper would "run a condensed version of Dinesh D'Souza's Forbes piece, abetting [the] discredited argument that Obama's dad made him anticolonial?"
It's a good question, and there really is no good answer.
A couple of weeks ago, Forbes published a falsehood-ridden cover story from pseudo-intellectual hatchet man Dinesh D'Souza about Barack Obama's supposed "anti-colonial" worldview. Though D'Souza's theory drew praise from people like Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, the article became an embarrassment for Forbes. After the publication initially defended the piece by laughably claiming that it's "facts" were not in contention (they were), the fact-checker they tasked with vetting the article -- after it had already been published -- turned up inaccuracies and the magazine was impelled to issue a correction.
The article drew criticism from, among many others, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Forbes columnist Shikha Dalmia, who ripped D'Souza's "intellectual goofiness," "factual problems," and "unsubstantiated ideological accusations."
Apparently not content to sit idly by while Forbes took the lion's share of embarrassment for promoting baseless smears of the president, the Washington Post decided to give D'Souza a platform in their paper this morning to explain "Why Barack Obama is an anti-colonialist." As we detailed this week, D'Souza's new book laying out this theory is filled with absurd leaps of logic, baseless accusations, and outright lies. Why, after D'Souza's lies have already been exposed and another publication already got burned by his serial mendacity, did the Post think it was a good idea to give him space to misinform their readers?
Last year, after the Post gave Sarah Palin column space to spread numerous falsehoods about climate science, op-ed editor Autumn Brewington defended the decision to publish the op-ed because Palin "is someone who stirs discussion and we are in the business of putting out opinion." Essentially, the Post argued that they are content to publish garbage, as long as you'll click on it.
While this D'Souza op-ed is sure to "stir discussion," that discussion is likely going to focus on the lack of standards at the Post and the ongoing trainwreck that is their op-ed page. Is that really the type of discussion they want to have?
Visitors to the website for The King's College of New York City will see an entire page devoted to "Honor," a concept that the Christian college apparently holds quite dear: "The King's College is a community of honor, not merely a collection of individuals. The actions of one affect us all. Therefore, we commit to confronting breeches [sic] of honor in our midst." On that page, the King's College Honor Code is reproduced for all to read: "A student of The King's College will not lie, cheat, steal, or turn a blind eye to those who do. Every student is honor bound to confront any other student who breeches [sic] the Honor Code."
Obviously, the code is intended for students, but it is clear that the entire King's College community is held to the same exacting standards of honor. And it's with that in mind that we turn our attention to the King's College president, Dinesh D'Souza, and his new book, The Roots of Obama's Rage, which stands firmly athwart the principles of honesty and forthrightness that are expected of his students. Throughout the book, D'Souza lies indiscriminately on matters large and small and haphazardly contradicts himself in pursuit of a theory that can charitably be described as insane -- that Barack Obama is motivated by an "anti-colonial" ideology, inherited from the father he met only once, that seeks the disempowerment of what Obama views as the "neocolonial" United States.
It would be charitable to call this theory "insane" because that would suggest that D'Souza, in propagating it, wasn't moved by malice or any other ulterior motive. But D'Souza takes as little care to disguise the animus behind his theory as he does the falsehoods that undergird it. Put simply, this book takes Obama to account for the crime of being born to an African father:
The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s -- a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, and bounced around on two iron legs (after his real legs had to be amputated because of a car crash), raging against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions. This philandering, inebriated African socialist is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son is the one who is making it happen, but the son is, as he candidly admits, only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is being goverened by a ghost. [Page 198]
Obama's father was a Harvard-taught economist and bureaucrat in Kenya's fledgling independent government, but to D'Souza he's a "Luo tribesman." D'Souza tries to contrast the senior Obama's personal failings with what he sees as Obama's lionized idea of the man, but most of his knowledge of Obama Sr.'s drinking and infidelities comes from Obama's own writings. The poisonous message is clear: Obama, like his father, is foreign and dangerous.
So it seems that Dinesh D'Souza, author of the new book The Roots of Obama's Rage, sat down with Jason Mattera, the frat-clown editor of Human Events, to field some softball questions about his lie-filled screed. In the video below, D'Souza explains how Obama "has no understanding whatever of entrepreneurship" and "never speaks of entrepreneurship in a positive way."
That's a bold statement, particularly when you consider that Obama held a Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship this past April. (It was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, but I digress.) In his remarks at the summit, Obama said:
OBAMA: Now, I know some have asked -- given all the security and political and social challenges we face, why a summit on entrepreneurship? The answer is simple.
Entrepreneurship -- because you told us that this was an area where we can learn from each other; where America can share our experience as a society that empowers the inventor and the innovator; where men and women can take a chance on a dream -- taking an idea that starts around a kitchen table or in a garage, and turning it into a new business and even new industries that can change the world.
Entrepreneurship -- because throughout history, the market has been the most powerful force the world has ever known for creating opportunity and lifting people out of poverty.
Entrepreneurship -- because it's in our mutual economic interest. Trade between the United States and Muslim-majority countries has grown. But all this trade, combined, is still only about the same as our trade with one country -- Mexico. So there's so much more we can do together, in partnership, to foster opportunity and prosperity in all our countries.
And social entrepreneurship -- because, as I learned as a community organizer in Chicago, real change comes from the bottom up, from the grassroots, starting with the dreams and passions of single individuals serving their communities.
In his new book The Roots of Obama's Rage, Dinesh D'Souza theorizes that President Obama is motivated by an "anti-colonial" ideology inherited from his father, and boasts that this theory explains Obama's actions in a way "that no rival theory can even begin to do." In reality, D'Souza's absurd "anti-colonial" theory is premised upon a series of false and misleading claims.
To those of you who would dismiss Dinesh D'Souza's new book, The Roots of Obama's Rage, as a waste of time, a pernicious collection of lies and thinly veiled racial attacks, a monumentally stupid and unintentionally comedic exercise in right-wing demagoguery -- well, you're right. And this passage from pages 200-202 is pretty much all the evidence you'd need to prove that argument beyond any shadow of a doubt.
After repeating the nonsense right-wing attack on NASA administrator Charles Bolden for saying that the president tasked him with outreach to the Muslim world, D'Souza writes:
No surprise: most people think of NASA's job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Even some of Obama's supporters expressed puzzlement. Sure, we are all for Islamic self-esteem, and seven or eight hundred years ago the Muslims did make a couple of important discoveries, but what on earth was Obama up to here?
One of England's great colonial figures was the mining magnate Cecil Rhodes, one of the few people in history to get a country (Rhodesia) named after him. Rhodes is today remembered for the diamond mining company he founded, De Beers, and also for the Rhodes Scholarship. But in his time he commanded something of a private army, he got mixed up in the Matabele Wars and the Boer War, and his political and economic tentacles reached across most of southern Africa. At the peak of his power, Rhodes was asked by a journalist how far he intended his influence to spread. He replied, "I would annex the planets if I could. I often think of that." This is the colonial mindset carried to the final frontier: even possession of the whole earth is not enough! You can imagine how the anti-colonialists reacted to Rhodes. Rhodes's comment can help us understand how the anti-colonial mind perceives America's space program -- it is a projection of American power and arrogance into the solar system.
If Obama shares this view, no wonder that he wants to blunt NASA's space program, to divert it from being a symbol of American greatness to a more modest public relations operation that builds ties with Muslims and other peoples. Even when the Muslims aren't involved, Obama wants to make sure the Russians and the Chinese share the credit. Space, you see, is for human and not merely American exploration. Plug in our anti-colonial model and what at first seems inexplicable -- converting NASA into a community outreach program for Muslims -- suddenly makes complete sense. Remove the theory and it is almost impossibly difficult to account for what Obama is doing.
D'Souza actually wrote this. And he was actually serious when he wrote it. He believes that President Obama, being of the anti-colonialist bent, wants to "blunt" NASA's mission in order to prevent America from realizing Cecil Rhodes' dream of colonizing space.
It's no wonder that Glenn Beck finds this book to be so remarkable.