Written hastily, as time is tight. But I felt I had to say it, any way I can...
Today is election day. The cesspool of campaign rhetoric, reporting, and commentary will shift -- not end, but shift -- into an equally enraging post-mortem, which will then morph into one or another party's largely disappointing attempt to govern the nation. Don't get me wrong. I think one party would be much worse than the other. But, while one will do less damage, either will largely fail. Because the biggest problem with the country is a huge number of its people.
I spent two hours today watching the hugely successful film 2016: Obama's America, starring Dinesh D'Souza. I say "starring" because -- while he's credited with directing and co-writing the film -- he's in a majority of the shots, and he appears, and speaks, far, far more than the purported subject of the title. He's filmed in various locations around the world, reading Obama's memoir, staring pensively, and interviewing a mottled assortment of individuals who have never met the president, who met him when he was a child, or met him once for ten minutes, and whom he interviews, or feeds his own theories to, all in order to string together an absolutely ludicrous, paranoid hypothesis that has no foundation in any discoverable fact. It's a hypothesis totally of D'Souza's invention.
The hypothesis is this: Barack Obama hates America, and American colonialism, and has made it his life's secret mission to empower anti-colonial Muslim nations, and destroy this one. In order to accomplish this, D'Souza's film declares, he has successfully fooled enough people to attend Harvard, earn election and serve as president of the Harvard Law Review, get elected to the Illinois state senate, and to the U.S. Senate, and run for and get elected as President of the United States, all while keeping his real goal secret, and all because he learned at a young age how to get white people to support him specifically because he is black. The film states this latter position explicitly. Barack Obama was elected as president only because he's black, because no white man with a similar level of experience could ever accomplish such a thing. His election was achieved via his carefully honed skill at making people feel good about electing a black man. And that's one of the less ludicrous proclamations the film makes. In order to support it, Barack Obama's voice is used, reading sections of his memoir that do not support the films conclusions, but only appear to when taken out of context, and put next to quotes made by others who do not know him. It is the most blatantly shoddy, and ridiculous, form of journalism, or even just storytelling, that I have ever seen.
Every assertion in the film belongs to someone else, not Barack Obama. He is assigned beliefs based on what his biological father (whom he met once!) supposedly believed, and quotes from the father are further assigned as Obama's beliefs. The filmmaker interviews a psychiatric professional who has never met Obama, and feeds him the supposition that an absent father can spur a son to accomplish goals on his behalf. This supposition is then accepted as fact. He interviews a random bi-racial man, who has also never met Barack Obama, who tells us how bi-racial men manipulate Caucasians into trusting them. This dynamic is therefor established as an Obama fact. Quotes from Obama's book, in which he writes about learning how to gain the trust of those suspicious of black men, are engorged and misrepresented as a belief that he can make people trust black men more than any other men, even though this belief is never stated by Obama in his book, or anywhere else.
The film never shows Obama expressing a single anti-colonial view, or anyone who knows him attributing one to him. (Personally, I'd question what's wrong with anti-colonial views in the first place, but I'll put that aside for now.) But it parades a short list (five to be exact) of "surrogate fathers," including two of the usual suspects, Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers, not just suggesting, but declaring, that these past associations, which the film represents as father-like and foundational, are incontrovertible proof of anti-American sentiment, and anti-American intent on the president's part. It's the prosecutorial equivalent of a poor seventh grade student's book report.
At one point in the film, D'Souza, who, in my opinion, comes across as a soft spoken, egotistical lunatic, plays a portion of Obama's Philadelphia speech on race, while he sneers unabashedly on the soundtrack, "Obama acts as if we need to have some kind of national seminar on race relations."
Well, yes, Dinesh. We certainly do. If it were up to me, I'd sign you up first.
The film never speaks or displays an example of Obama's actual ideology, claiming it's all unknown, hidden, undiscoverable -- except for the hidden agenda it claims to uncover. It repeatedly uses the voices of people who've never met him to assign the ideology of others they've never met to him. It's pure insanity.
The film begins with, and climaxes with, an event D'Souza claims is one of Obama's ultimate irrefutable indictments: the return of a bust statue of Winston Churchill to the British government. Take that as you will.
"Through the dreams of Obama's father we can see..." is the typical language used to emphatically "prove" its points. If we can imagine Obama's father dreaming it, then it must be the terrifying truth about the president.
The film has a particularly puzzling, and troubling, segment in which D'Souza interviews Barack Obama's "half-brother." A soft spoken young-ish man sits on a bench, and tells D'Souza that he only met the president once. He is one of many children Obama's biological father sired with a series of women Obama has also never met. D'Souza insists repeatedly that the president should have taken care of, and rescued, this man, whom D'Souza has determined lives in poverty, whom Obama does not know, and who, again, was fathered by a man Obama only met once, in a continent on the other side of the planet. The man repeatedly says that Obama owes him nothing. That he is an adult capable of caring for himself. That the president has larger issues on his mind. That, by taking care of the world, Obama is already taking care of him. When he can't get the man to indict Obama, he turns to scripture, reading "I am my brother's keeper...," and asks the man again, whether Obama has lived up to his obligation to him.
Are there people anywhere, seeking out the additional offspring of parents they never knew, who fathered many, via multiple mothers, fighting for the opportunity to support them? It's certainly not anything I'd expect of anyone. But, to D'Souza, this is enough to again confirm Obama's ultimate goal of destroying the United States in favor of anti-colonial, Muslim nations.
"Now we know (no, we don't) why Obama would allow his brother (no, not his brother) to live in slums," he intones. He then declares that Obama sees Muslim terrorists as anti-colonial freedom fighters, and that he wants them to win.
D'Souza then bizarrely turns the film onto himself, and onto those who've attacked him for his cockamamie theorizing. The film states his three utterly banal "predictions": that Obama will want to raise taxes; that he will want to cut the military; that he will fail to "meaningfully" arrest Iran's nuclear weapon aspirations. And the film then states that the only possible conclusion to be reached as a result of these three predictable predictions coming true is that Barack Obama intends, and has always intended, to destroy the United States in favor of anti-colonial Muslim nations. He posits that Obama intends to force American citizens to pay 100% income tax, based on a supposed quote from the biological father he met just once. Obama intends to steal all Americans' wealth, and create the socialist nation his biological father (who, remember, he only met once) craved. And the unassailable explanation for all this is that Obama has proposed raising taxes at all.
Since Obama gave a speech in which he stated a goal of a nuclear weapon free world, D'Souza determines and declares that Obama wants the US to become militarily inferior to China and an assortment of Asian and middle eastern nations. Because...that's right. You guessed it. He hates America, and wants it to fail. This is presented as the only possible explanation why a leader might want to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles. President after president has aspired to shape a nuclear free world, but for Barack Obama, the only possible explanation for such a goal is his intent to destroy the nation he leads. It's pure, raving lunacy, spoken in hushed tones.
And then, of course, there's Israel. Because Obama has stated his belief that there should be some, any, conciliation on that country's part, it means that Obama intends its destruction. Because...yes again. Because he hates America, and wants to bring about its downfall, by destroying its allies.
Obama has increased United States debt (as has every recent president except for Clinton) because - you guessed it - he wants to destroy the United States, so that anti-colonial Muslim nations will be its equal.
I found even the initial premise of the film, that no one knew Barack Obama in 2008, and that no one knows him now, to be absurd. The people who didn't, and don't, know Obama are the ones who never bothered to learn anything about him during his prior campaigns, and who have put no effort into understanding what their government has been doing for the past four years. The people who are content to have their pseudo-facts fed to them by wildly biased news outlets, and preposterously silly films. Those are the people who then get terrified by one of the stupidest, most inane and lame brained foolish pieces of cinema ever distributed.
This film, to me, is ridiculously ham-handed, poorly executed fear-mongering. Its target is weak, frightened minds. Someone wrote to me on Facebook this evening that it's the Reefer Madness of our era, and it's better than any quip I could have come up with. This film is just dumb. But it has succeeded in making millions of supposedly sane and intelligent people afraid, and that scares the hell out of me. It means I'm surrounded by people who are ready to embrace lunatic conspiracy theories, rather than a sad set of facts. That the economy of the world is in real danger. That a terrible economic catastrophe was barely avoided. That it's been patched up in moderately successful fashion, by a leader they don't like, but still has glaring vulnerabilities. And, that the nation they were told throughout their childhoods was invulnerable, and would always remain that way, really isn't. And they need a scapegoat. Because they're too chicken to admit, or even to contemplate, that any of the fault might actually lie with them.
Follow Evan Handler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EvanHandler