Saturday, September 18, 2010

When Lunacy Masquerades As Scholarship

In the most recent edition of Forbes Magazine, Dinesh D'Souza writes that "Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history." Given the renewed health of Wall Street and the fact that General Motors is once again turning a profit, D'Souza's assertion is certainly suspect.

But even more suspect is what Newt Gingrich has called D'Souza's "stunning insight" into Obama's character. D'Souza, claims that -- you've heard this one before -- the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. He first paints a scurrilous portrait of the president's father. "So who was Barack Obama Sr?" he asks:

He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk in a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

The president is not the first man to have had a no count for a father. He's certainly not the first president who has risen from less than auspicious circumstances. President Reagan's father had a less than healthy taste for strong brew. And President Clinton's stepfather -- whose name Clinton bears -- could be, we are told, a very hard man. None of us gets to choose our parents.

But having maligned the senior Obama, D'Sousa then goes on to assert that the president is living out his father's frustrated dreams. Like his father, D'Sousa writes, the president is an anti-colonialist:

From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

These assertions seem to be directly at odds with Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan. But D'Souza simply ignores Afghanistan. In fact, the whole article ignores facts which contradict its central assertions. It is an example of argument from innuendo; and, as scholarship, it is pure bunk.

Mr. D'Souza is a graduate of Dartmouth. He is currently president of King's College in New York City. Mr. Gingrich holds a doctorate from Tulane. Both men are reputedly smart fellows. One wonders. . .

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


Zero said...

Come, come, Mr. Gray...

Since when has a person's academic credentials been a guarantee of anything except that he or she has attained some understanding about how a tiny slice of the world works?

In fact, I don't think such credentials are even proof of honesty!

Do you?

Owen Gray said...

Your arrow hits the bull's eye, Zero. As Twain said, schooling should not interfere with one's education.

However, it is disappointing to realize that, after spending so much time in "thought," someone's thoughts could be so foolish.

Don Quijote said...

This is the kind of article you write when you want scream "N**ger, n**ger, n**ger" but doing so is socially unacceptable...

Owen Gray said...

I don't know if you're referring to D'Souza's article or my post. Assuming that you're referring to the piece in Forbes, I agree that D'Souza's credentials add a patina of social acceptability to the article.

But, on substance, as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, "there isn't any there there."

Anonymous said...

Although D'Souza and Gingrich's statements may seem utterly foolish, unhappily, they are not, at least, not completely. Reinforcing long-held American prejudices, they probably seem informative and insightful to a too-large number of "Crackers" and suckers.
Aimed at the basest elements of human nature, their remarks will provide additional racist fuel for a Republican win in the forthcoming elections. In terms of helping win an election, their comments likely aren't "stupid".

Bur back in power, the Republicans will continue to do what they do best: take treasure from the many, give it to the wealthiest few, create more ethnic, racial and religious divisions amongst Americans, and make of the United States a Third World state.

That is the real foolishness underlying D'Souza and Gingrich's positions.

Owen Gray said...

I agree with you that, when it comes to winning an election, D'Souza's piece will help Republicans.

They are riding a wave of anger -- Paul Krugman argues that it is the anger of the wealthy, not the dispossessed -- and the long term damage they are doing to the country is tragic.

All in all, it is a very sad state of affairs, indeed.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that D'Souza would criticize Obama for being an "anti-colonialist" while also arguing that Obama's dream is "certainly not the American dream as conceived by the founders".

I thought that America's founders--who created a new country out of 13 British colonies--were the original anti-colonialists...


Owen Gray said...

In his article, D'Souza claims that, as "a native of Mumbai" he knows "a great deal about anti colonialism."

His grasp of American history, however, is highly selective.