The Roots of Obama's Rage and the honor code

Visitors to the website for The King's College of New York City will see an entire page devoted to "Honor," a concept that the Christian college apparently holds quite dear: “The King's College is a community of honor, not merely a collection of individuals. The actions of one affect us all. Therefore, we commit to confronting breeches [sic] of honor in our midst.” On that page, the King's College Honor Code is reproduced for all to read: “A student of The King's College will not lie, cheat, steal, or turn a blind eye to those who do. Every student is honor bound to confront any other student who breeches [sic] the Honor Code.”

Obviously, the code is intended for students, but it is clear that the entire King's College community is held to the same exacting standards of honor. And it's with that in mind that we turn our attention to the King's College president, Dinesh D'Souza, and his new book, The Roots of Obama's Rage, which stands firmly athwart the principles of honesty and forthrightness that are expected of his students. Throughout the book, D'Souza lies indiscriminately on matters large and small and haphazardly contradicts himself in pursuit of a theory that can charitably be described as insane -- that Barack Obama is motivated by an “anti-colonial” ideology, inherited from the father he met only once, that seeks the disempowerment of what Obama views as the “neocolonial” United States.

It would be charitable to call this theory “insane” because that would suggest that D'Souza, in propagating it, wasn't moved by malice or any other ulterior motive. But D'Souza takes as little care to disguise the animus behind his theory as he does the falsehoods that undergird it. Put simply, this book takes Obama to account for the crime of being born to an African father:

The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s -- a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, and bounced around on two iron legs (after his real legs had to be amputated because of a car crash), raging against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions. This philandering, inebriated African socialist is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son is the one who is making it happen, but the son is, as he candidly admits, only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is being goverened by a ghost. [Page 198]

Obama's father was a Harvard-taught economist and bureaucrat in Kenya's fledgling independent government, but to D'Souza he's a “Luo tribesman.” D'Souza tries to contrast the senior Obama's personal failings with what he sees as Obama's lionized idea of the man, but most of his knowledge of Obama Sr.'s drinking and infidelities comes from Obama's own writings. The poisonous message is clear: Obama, like his father, is foreign and dangerous.

This in itself would be objectionable enough, but the evidence D'Souza musters to support this theory -- which he frequently boasts is psychologically sound -- crumbles under the slightest scrutiny. Heather MacDonald, writing at FrumForum, observed that “the most laughable weakness” of D'Souza's hypothesis is that the Obama policies that he claims are “anti-colonial” actually “have a decades-long American pedigree and are embraced by wide swathes of the American electorate and political class.” Slightly higher taxes for the wealthy? Ridding the world of nuclear weapons? Ending America's “addiction” to oil? D'Souza presents these positions of Obama's as evidence of his antipathy towards the “neocolonial” U.S. Unmentioned, of course, is that they were also the stated positions of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, respectively, all of whom escape the “anti-colonial” epithet.

When not brazenly lying, D'Souza relies on absurd leaps of logic. He devotes much ink to a passage from Dreams from My Father in which Obama described seeing as a boy in Indonesia a magazine picture of a black man who disfigured himself with skin bleaching treatments. D'Souza notes that the picture itself has never turned up, but rather than attributing this to the spotty memory of an eight-year-old or Obama's (admitted) use of artistic license, D'Souza formulates a wild explanation to bolster his “anti-colonial” hypothesis -- Obama stole a skin-whitening story from anti-colonial author Frantz Fanon and passed it off as his own:

“For some years now, certain laboratories have been researching for a 'denegrification' serum. In all seriousness they have been rinsing out their test tubes and adjusting their scales and have begun research on how the wretched black man could whiten himself and this rid himself of the burden of his bodily curse.” Fanon is writing about the North African Negro who is desperately eager to alter his skin color and become white like the French rulers of his country. Here, I believe, is where Obama got his skin treatment story. He found it in Fanon and altered the setting and the facts to invent a personal experience instructive about American racism. [Page 14]

What evidence does D'Souza have for this assertion, aside from the coincidental theme of skin-whitening? One line from page 100 of Dreams from My Father, in which Obama recounts his days at Occidental College: “We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy.”

And then there's the persistent cognitive dissonance. D'Souza says Obama dislikes France because they are a “former colonial power,” but simultaneously attacks Obama for ingratiating himself to the French people by “apologiz[ing] for American arrogance.” He claims Obama's Afghanistan “surge” was purely a “political necessity,” but then attacks Obama for the “outrageousness” of saying that Bush used the Iraq war to distract from his domestic political problems.

This is the sort of scholarship -- and I hesitate to call it such -- that suffuses The Roots of Obama's Rage. It's just one lie after the other used to support a theory that hearkens back to the nativist garbage endemic to the colonial era that D'Souza claims forms the basis for Obama's “rage.”

If the King's College Honor Code means anything, then D'Souza's students should be queuing outside his office by the hundreds, waiting to confront this breach of honor in their midst.