‘2016: Obama’s America’ good film, flawed logic
I was reluctant to watch Dinesh D’Souza’s film “2016,: Obama’s America” but I saw the necessity to develop an informed opinion about it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically the conservative version of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” aimed not at swaying undecided voters, but reinforcing what conservatives already believe about the President. While the production value was really good, the content was questionable.
While some of the arguments were “facts”, the film draws my ire mostly because of a statement D’Souza made toward the beginning of the film. “You’re comparing America to its own highest ideals, and in your eyes, America is falling short. But don’t you realize that in criticizing America for falling short of that standard, you are actually kind of conceding America’s moral superiority?”
The quote above was from D’Souza’s discussion with Rev. Jesse Jackson about whether or not the American dream is “colorblind.” It’s a train-wreck in any context, however, and here’s the problem with using that logic: it leaves the door open for me to apply that same structure to D’Souza’s central thesis.
By building the case that Obama’s policies are oriented towards the dismantling and destruction of evil colonial empires, in doing so, isn’t he kind of conceding that America is an evil colonial Empire? D’Souza structured those rules into his own argument, granting license to interpret them that way. I’ll take up the challenge, but let’s first simplify the argument: the American objective is to colonize, and because Obama doesn’t believe in that, he must be un-American.
By saying that Obama is denigrating America’s status as the pinnacle of envy for the global community, D’Souza has to make the argument that we are at the top because we are a neocolonial superpower. Many of us can’t believe that, because it contradicts the burden we share in leading the world by the example of our own excellence. That’s the “American Dream.”
But if D’Souza wants to make that inadvertent supposition, I’ll let him. If we are indeed an empire, Barack Obama is championing our global colonial crusade rather than dismantling it.
In multiple countries weekly body counts are increasing due to secret drone strikes. In Syria we are arming teenagers to go and kill their own countrymen. Our economic sanctions against nations that we have deemed to be “threats” have reached such a maddening height that when dignitaries from Iran visit New York, they don’t go sightseeing; they go shopping.
The Iranians weren’t impressed by the obvious examples of our excellence that they ought to emulate. They didn’t go to Wall Street and stand in awe of our crushing financial might, nor were they particularly interested in seeing where the beacon of Lady Liberty casts her light across the globe. Their main objective was to go to a CostCo and procure toiletries that are hard to come by due to shortages back home.
So, is that what makes us exceptional as a nation, cheap and readily available shampoo? Is the American Dream to lather, rinse, and repeat?
All joking aside, coercive tactics of gaining compliance have long been indicative of empires, and the colonial enterprise that the Obama administration continues to propagate is no different. I find it quite hilarious when I look at it from this perspective. The President is actually surpassing D’Souza’s own standard for the American dream, and by comparison it makes it seem that we are all falling short of being true Americans.
In closing, here’s a thought. When you build a city you must first build sewers. But when you build “A City on the Hill,” you don’t have that problem because it all just rolls downhill.