by Doctor Science
2016: Obama's America is a documentary by Dinesh D'Souza, based on his books "The Roots of Obama's Rage" and "Obama's America". So far it's doing extremely well at the box office. The premise of books and movie, according to Wikipedia, is
that Barack Obama's attitude toward America derives from his father's anti-colonialism and from a psychological desire to fulfill his father's dream of diminishing the power of Western imperial states.I have no intention of giving D'Souza money, so I haven't seen it, but most critics say it's pretty awful.
D'Souza did an interview with Stanley Fish of the NY Times, a personal friend:
Stanley Fish.: You say in an e-mail to me that you don’t think Obama is anti-American. You just think he wants to “downsize” America, take her down a notch. Isn’t that a distinction without a difference?[emphasis mine] D'Souza's ideas about what is an obvious American consensus that "most everyone" agrees with don't necessarily square with mine, and it's *certainly* not the case that there's something inauthentic or weird or in any way un-American about what used to be call "Internationalism". Indeed, internationalism was a defining element in my grandfather's GOP.
Dinesh D'Souza: I don’t use that label for Obama because he thinks it would be good for America to play a smaller role economically, politically, culturally and so on. Most everyone else agrees that America should be prosperous, should be strong, should be a force for liberty, should be No. 1 as long as possible. All I’m saying is that Obama stands outside that consensus. So he might be very happy if the world was dominated not by one, but by six countries. He’d be very happy if America, which has 5 percent of the world’s oil, but uses 25 percent, instead used 10 percent, allowing developing countries to use more.
When I read this, I'd already been thinking about the Faramir from the Lord of the Rings, as I often do. I was immediately reminded of Faramir's conversation with Frodo, where he says he wants to see his country of Gondor and its capitol Minas Tirith
beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves.Faramir is not a Gondorian exceptionalist, even though Gondor is actually exceptional within Tolkien's universe. He understands, as D'Souza does not, that for a mighty nation to be both "No.1 as long as possible" and "a force for liberty" is a contradiction in terms: you can't be both an empire and a force for liberty. Freedom doesn't work that way.
D'Souza's statements clarify, for me, something a Tea Party leader said the other day. Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express tweeted:
Huge difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is that Mitt loves America. We need a president that loves this country.CNN's Soledad O'Brien interviewed her about it:
O'BRIEN: Do you think that President Obama doesn't love this country? What does that mean?I *think* that the word Kremer was looking for is cosmopolitan.
KREMER: I think that he is more about a global - being a global - oh, what's the word? Being more one world, global, with you know other countries and it's not about the shining city on the hill, the greatness that has always been America that our founding fathers were about. I do believe that. I - I mean, I absolutely believe it. I'm not going to run from that.
I don't think, as O'Brien implied later in the interview (when she talked about "dog whistles") that Kremer is, on the top level at least, saying Obama is too black, she means he's too universalist, too respectful of people from other countries. Too much like Faramir. Later in the interview:
KREMER: If you love this country and you want to restore our heritage and that sort of thing, you go out there and you lead. You don't wait on others to tell you what to do. And you take those bold steps. I mean, I don't think that that's what the objective of this administration is.What both Kremer and D'Souza seem to me to be saying is that Obama isn't an imperialist, and they *hate* that. And they think most of the rest of the US sees things the way they do: that this country *should* be "a kind mistress of willing slaves" -- or that's what they tell themselves.
What I also wonder is whether the changes to Faramir's character in Peter Jackson's movie version were to some degree shaped by this zeitgeist. Jackson has said that he changed Faramir because he needed more cinematic tension, book!Faramir was too "pure". But I wonder if he also just couldn't see that Faramir was rejecting not just the Ring, but the idea that what happens to one's own country must be the only important thing in the world, for a leader.
In The Return of the King Denethor, Faramir's father and the Ruling Steward of Gondor, is talking -- or verbally fencing -- with Gandalf. Denethor says that for him:
" ... there is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good of Gondor."And Gandalf replies:
And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I am also a steward. Did you not know?"Jackson folded, spindled, and mutilated this scene and the character of Denethor (and that of Gandalf, as well), IMHO because he couldn't imagine that trying to do one's best for one's country -- but *only* for one's country -- could be wrong. He had to make Denethor icky and baaaaaaad, not just limited by his nationalism.
And Kremer and D'Souza seem to have forgotten one of the first rules of storytelling, at least when I was growing up: The one who wants to rule the world is *The Bad Guy*. I know I'm not the only one scratching their head at D'Souza, making "anti-colonialism" sound like a *bad thing*. When I was young (you whippersnappers), the argument was:
LEFT: The USA is imperialist!At some point, the script seems to have changed to:
RIGHT: No it's not!
LEFT: The USA is imperialist!-- and I feel all wrong-footed, like I wandered into the wrong movie. Kids these days, playing World Domination Through Bombing on my lawn ...
RIGHT: What are you, some kinda wimp?! America F*ck Yeah!
 or "documentary"
 The book only. This guy:
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared ...
not this guy:
however cute. I'm really glad I was spoiled for his characterization in the Two Towers movie before I saw it, because screaming and tearing the screen down would not have been