Deconstructing Obama, Comparing (Possibly False) Theories, And Unseen-Movie Criticism
August 27, 2012 13 Comments
As I understand the premise of the movie 2016, and the book it’s based on by D’Souza (note, I haven’t seen the movie or read the book), the theory goes that President Obama is deeply motivated by a deep and angry anti-colonialism, something that is revealed by a close reading of his book Dreams From My Father.
The interesting thing about this ‘anti-colonialism’ theory is how similar it sounds to (what I’ll just call) the Steve Sailer theory, that Obama is motivated by race, and in particular a deep and abiding wish to garner fruits for the black race that he is (or rather, so longs to be) a part of. Something that Sailer gleaned in large part from a close reading of his book Dreams From My Father. (Note: I am in the process of reading Sailer’s book about this.)
So we have two theories that are structurally similar, and appear to be based on the same evidence, but one theory (the Sailer theory) is at once less baroque, simpler, more general, makes more sense, and seems to explain more.
‘Anti-colonialism’, after all, is a very specific cause to have been driving someone all this time – too specific, it seems. Why (for example) did Obama want to be the mayor of Chicago – how exactly did that fulfill his purported ‘anti-colonialist’ urge? What’s all that about writing about made-up white girlfriends, how to explain that as an expression of ‘anti-colonialism’? How is ‘community organizing’ ‘anti-colonialist’? Was Obama, trying to channel his namesake father, concerned about all ‘colonialism’ generically – in Indonesia, South America, Asia – or colonialism on one continent in particular perhaps?
But if you just go with the Sailer theory, that it was all about blackness, it makes infinitely more sense.
The bottom line is, without having seen 2016 or read D’Souza’s book, I nevertheless seem to find myself able to reject its hypothesis: not necessarily because D’Souza’s theory is 100% wrong or stupid, but because the Sailer theory is a local improvement over (what I know of) the D’Souza theory in every respect. In other words – while I can certainly imagine, and could be convinced of, neither theory being true – conditioned on the premise that one of those theories is true, I’d have to go with the Sailer theory. It’s just clearly better and more plausible.
Indeed, I can’t envision how someone – including D’Souza – presented with both ‘anti-colonialism’ and ‘black racialism’ as explanations for Obama’s driving motivations, and forced to choose one, wouldn’t go with the latter over the former. (Among other things, ‘black racialism’ basically contains ‘anti-colonialism’ as one of its prongs anyway.)
So is D’Souza not aware of the Sailer theory? Or did he basically come to the same conclusion as Sailer – indeed, is his theory essentially the same as Sailer’s – but he was afraid to state it explicitly, so he decided to skirt around it all by euphemistically calling his diagnosis ‘anti-colonialism’ in the hopes of disguising the specifically black-race aspect of it?
I guess to form a conclusion about that, I might have to actually see the movie.