Sunday, October 10, 2010

TheDC Interview with Dinesh D’Souza

Prolific writer, world-class debater, and now president of The King’s College in New York City, Dinesh D’Souza is the author of the new book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” a book whose thesis has stirred up heated debate among conservatives and liberals alike. In the book, D’Souza suggests that to understand Obama and the policies he is pushing as president, you have to understand the anti-colonial dreams of his father. These same dreams, D’Souza argues, are what motivate Obama today.

In an in-depth interview, D’Souza defended his thesis vigorously against tough push back by The Daily Caller. At the end of the interview, D’Souza raves that TheDC’s interview with him “is the very best interview. I mean, this is a very interesting exchange because you’re, I think in a very thoughtful way, raising key questions about the book and giving me a chance to engage them.”

Below you will find the first 10 questions of the interview. Come back tomorrow for Part II, where D’Souza combats what he considers the “single best piece of counter evidence against my theory” and talks about his ailing friend and debating partner Christopher Hitchens.

TheDC: What do you think is so powerful about the anti-colonial thesis in explaining Obama’s actions?

Dinesh D’Souza (DD): In understanding a man, you have to give a psychologically compelling account of what drives him. So, for example, let’s say one would hypothesize that Obama was a Maoist. Even if this was usually a valuable lens in explaining his policies, the question would remain, “Yeah, but how did he become a Maoist?” Maoism seems awfully remote from his actual life. So where did he pick it up and how did it have such a big influence on him?

So the point being that we need a theory that is rooted in Obama’s own history, and the beauty of it is that Obama has written extensively about his own history. He tells us where his dreams come from and he says in no uncertain terms that they come from his father. His father was, without a doubt, an anti-colonialist. This is reflected in his father’s writings, such as his 1965 article on African socialism.

So Obama’s father is a socialist but he fits the socialism into a larger anti-colonialism. And so this gives us a very interesting hypothesis to work with, mainly, that Obama has embraced his father’s anti-colonialism. And then the question becomes, how helpful is that model in explaining Obama’s actions and in predicting what he will do in the future? So that’s my starting point in approaching this thesis.

TheDC: And ultimately, where do you think he picked up this worldview more from, was it more from his father or his mother do you think?

DD: Well, so here’s what I would say. He picked up uncritical reverence of his father from his mother. So he got this idea of his father as the mythic figure, larger than life, the great man of Africa. This image of his father was greatly reinforced by a crucial incident that happened when his father came to visit him at the age of ten. Obama writes extensively about this incident in his book [Dreams from my Father]. It’s about when his father came to speak at his school, and the mesmerizing impact that he had on students.

So Obama had this reverence for his father but that reverence was shattered when he learned that his father was a very flawed man. He was an alcoholic, he got into multiple drunk driving accidents, he was a polygamist who didn’t look after his wife and children. So Obama discovered all that and it shattered him. He says it was as if the sky had changed color and animals could speak. So it shook that early, blissful, larger than life image of his father.

Obama now had to put these two facts together. What do you do with the great man of Africa that is a very flawed man? And Obama came up with, I think, a very plausible synthesis. He basically said, “Okay, flawed man, but great ideals.” In other words, Obama said, “I recognize my father was not perfect as a man, but it remains a fact that he was attached to the great liberationist third world cause of the second half of the twentieth century, namely anti-colonialism.”

Read the rest of Part I

TheDC Interview with Dinesh D’Souza, Part II

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