by Norman Berdichevsky (September 2012)
The low ethical standards of some of the candidates in the recent Republican primary in Florida and the very low turnout bodes ill for the future of the party in attracting new blood and carrying on a spirited campaign to defeat President Obama in November. This dismal malaise was even more apparent during the long drawn out and disreputable spectacle of the presidential primary race across many states in which both Gingrinch and Santorum called Mitt Romney a liar, a buy-out venture and vulture capitalist without any scruples and worse, laid the groundwork for the current malicious campaign of the Democrats.
Some dismayed Republicans and Tea Party supporters are even critical of what Tom Tillison of the Florida Political Press has called “an entire cottage industry that has cropped up around this great awakening we call the Tea Party, which has proven to be a boon for book sales and peddling all manners of patriotic trappings. And the speaker’s circuit has never been more lucrative.” (Florida Political Press August 21, 2012). As the author of a current book on politics myself (The Left is Seldom Right), and as an enthusiastic proponent of the film, 2016, Obama’s America by Dinesh D'Souza, an Indian American conservative political commentator, author, and Christian apologist who is currently the President of The King's College in New York City, I would like to answer the question Tom raised in his column ….”Who’s really benefiting?”…and.. “Is any of this reaching the audience it needs to reach?” I believe so.
My wife and I went to see a showing of the film at a Regal theater in Winter Park Village, Florida. It was about three-quarters full but there were several overlapping showings at two more of the adjacent theaters in the 12 theater complex. We didn’t go with a group but noticed that many in the audience came in groups of more than just a single couple including families with grandparents, parents and children. At the end of the film, the audience broke into loud cheers and spontaneous applause. A few days later I read Tom Sowell’s account in his own on-line column of his experience. Sowell is without a doubt the most important and highly regarded Black American critic of the Obama administration. In his Washington, D.C. surroundings there were no local movie theaters showing the film so he had to drive 30 miles into Virginia where he managed to get into the theater and sit on the steps because it had been sold out. The reaction of the audience was the same as I had encountered. The film is currently being shown in more than one thousand locations across the country. This is approximately one of every four theaters in the U.S. Jason Jones, president of Movie to Movement, the non-profit organization promoting the film has stated that the film has enjoyed the largest one-week expansion of an independent film in history. Jones said “We started at a single theater in Houston, Texas. It was a huge success, grossing $43,000 on one screen in a week, making it a sure bet for expansion.”
The film has already become a phenomenon on the eve of the Republican Convention and has reached the audience we most need to convince to reject Obama -young voters –they are the most avid movie goers and the least likely to be reached by more traditional methods. Young voters between the ages of 18 and 30 voted for Obama by a 2:1 majority in 2004. I know them and their susceptibility to movies. I have written about it and experienced it in the classroom. Their prime mentor for political education is Hollywood. Many of them reflexively accept much of the vituperative slander against their own country and its institutions as so graphically portrayed in such films as JFK, Streets of New York and Syriana (see “Hollywood’s Treatment of French Schizophrenia,” New English Review, August 19, 2006). JFK did not just cast doubt, but spread malicious rumor and innuendo accusing the CIA and Vice President Johnson of complicity in the assassination of President Kennedy and cast both the wretched and delusional assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and the unscrupulous New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in a sympathetic light. Gangs of New York is a totally distorted account of the 1863 Draft Riots that outdoes Nazi and Soviet propaganda in its depiction of every aspect of American society and government as venal, corrupt and racist. Syriana portrays America’s involvement in the Middle East as a provocation and portrays Islamicist fanaticism in a sympathetic light in which the Arabs, the Arab states and Arab-Americans are all the unfortunate victims of the global conspiracies and machinations of the CIA. It is hard for the average movie-goer under the age of 60, unless he or she is a buff of older films from the 1940s, to conceive of a time when Hollywood responded to war and international crises with patriotic fervor and even took initiatives to explain complicated and difficult foreign policy dilemmas for the American government.
Dinesh D’Souza is an engaging, attractive dark skinned immigrant from India whose life and career follows in parallel with Obama’s – born and married in the same years and able to judge American institutions and values from a third world perspective. The film does not accept any of the more controversial attacks on Obama’s official biography but seeks to explain how his own words and thoughts cited continually throughout the film from the President’s autobiography Dreams From My Father are a thread running through his policies and are at the core of what motivates him and makes him intent on downsizing, disarming, and apologizing for America, abandoning our allies with obvious contempt such as Great Britain, Israel and Poland, fawning and bowing before Muslim despots, and seeking to create a society where individual initiative, ambition and self-reliance are replaced by the collectivist goals that have failed all over the world.
Instead of the 2:1 majority among young voters Obama enjoyed in 2008, the latest polls show that Obama now only holds a slight majority in this important demographic. The film will help reach exactly that audience influenced by a Hollywood that has endorsed the President’s vision of our country, what’s wrong with it and how to “cure it.” 2016 examines Barack Obama’s relationship with his absent father – Barack Obama Senior, who was an activist in the anti-colonial struggle against the British, and following independence became part of that elite clique who fostered a one party bureaucratic, socialist state in Kenya that crushed all local government and free initiative resulting in a downward spiral of economic stagnation and poverty shared by Obama’s half-brother in the slums of Nairobi. D’Souza is uniquely qualified to contrast this heritage with how our own founding fathers, who were also anti-colonialists but whom Obama can never really identify with, achieved independence but placed the rights and liberties of the individual at the top of the new nation’s concerns.
We follow the President’s life in Indonesia where his mother remarries a local man (also a Muslim, Lolo Soetoro), who eventually becomes a successful businessman and in so doing, alienates both Obama and his mother who believe they are betraying the socialist and collectivist legacy of Barack Obama Senior. This psychological portrait is one that makes sense and can be understood and appreciated by many young people who are themselves the product of homes in which there is divorce and remarriage.
The President’s endorsement of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement extends to the world stage in which the antagonists are portrayed as the 99% – the occupied, and the exploitative 1% – the occupiers. Obama emotionally sympathizes with all those he places in the category of the victims of the colonialist white European nations (the one-percenters), returning the bust of Churchill, the gift of the British government, praising Islam as a progressive force while denying its oppression of women, children, non-Muslim minorities, his policies towards third world nations such as Mexico and Brazil whom his policies have encouraged to develop their oil industries while retarding our own, secretly supporting Argentina in its attempt to seize the Falkland Islands from Britain by force, pressuring Israel (regarded too as “occupiers”) to retreat from defensible borders, total passivity in failing to support the millions of demonstrators in the street against the tyrannical regime of the mullahs in Iran, etc.
Most damning of all are the close associations of the President and his most important mentors ignored by the media and Senator John McCain’s campaign in 2004 – convicted terrorist Bill Ayers, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (“God Damn America” and his “Liberation Theology” church in Chicago) and long-time Communist party member Frank Marshall Davis. All of these links were not simply ignored by the major media but suppressed or dismissed as irrelevant. The same applies to Obama’s cavalier treatment of Israel – a simple visit there by the president of a few days would undoubtedly regain much Jewish affection for Obama and make it clear to the Iranians that pushing full steam ahead with their nuclear programs would lead to a decisive joint U.S.-Israeli confrontation but he cannot take even this simple win-win formula because Israel too, like all his demons, are the one percenters he identifies as the colonial exploiters of the poor Palestinian Arabs who are the 99%.
2016 is a powerful film that may exert a profound influence on the outcome of the presidential election. As the billboards and advertisements on television proclaim … Love Him or Hate Him, You Don’t Really Know Him. You need to see this film. I know it will have an impact on independents and even entice more than a few young people who voted for Obama in 2008 and are both upset and curious. The film’s most important conclusion that any white candidate with Obama’s biography would never have been regarded seriously by a major political party for the office of President is inescapable. A large part of his white support came from white guilt over past injustices and is hesitant at voting against him now for fear that their motives will be misconstrued.
I have reason to hope that the film does not just play to the choir. It was not motivated by any concern for economic gain. My own efforts in writing a book were not to make money but among the comments I have received was the following one that gave me the faith that you can reason with young people and appeal to their intelligence as well as to their emotions. A student in Tampa at the University of South Florida wrote…
As a student studying politics at the university level, I greatly enjoyed Dr. Berdichevsky's poignant thesis and ideas in his most recent book, “The Left is Seldom Right.” I ordered a copy and read through it in only a matter of days. Thanks to its level of research and thought provoking material, this book has been incredibly helpful in cementing many of my own convictions and has given me an ability to counter the far-left lean of my classmates and professors. A former follower of Chomsky and Tariq Ali, this book was one of several that put my Marxist leanings to rest.
We all owe Dinesh D’Souza a debt of gratitude – presenting a sober documented analysis of the President’s past and how he acquired deeply held views and motivations without any special effects or sensationalism, violence, sex or big name star actors.
Norman Berdichevsky's latest book is The Left is Seldom Right.
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