Don't Forget His Commie Mother!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 16 2010 5:10 PM

Don't Forget His Commie Mother!

George Neumayr sees your Dinesh D'Souza thumb-sucker analysis and raises you with an analysis of "the white-liberal neocolonialism of his mother."

The patronizing tone that Obama adopts in the book when discussing his father's failures makes him sound more like a neocolonialist cut from his mother's cloth than an anticolonialist. While he approves of the anticolonials' anti-western anger, he still thinks they could use some direction from western liberals. He expresses disappointment with his father for not swallowing the liberal faith whole. His father lacked "faith in people" and held too tightly to certain Luo ways -- "too much of its rigidness, its suspicions, its male cruelties." If only, he implies, the African anticolonials were less stubborn and let neocolonialists at the Ford Foundation guide them to Planned Parenthood clinics and schools bankrolled by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, all would have been well.

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I'm pretty bored with what Steve Sailer (who was on this stick a while ago) calls "sputter and point" criticism. Let's engage this. What's objectionable, exactly, about the idealism of Stanley Ann Dunham? And what's the problem with the Ford Foundation's work in other countries? Is it the seed capital they provided for the Grameen Bank? Their international fellowships program? I'd like to know what makes that, for example, more objectionable than the Rotary program that brought a young man named D'Dinesh D'Souza to study in the United States.

I'm serious: I literally can't understand what the problem is that Neumayr claims to have identified. For a number of years, conservative intellectuals in this country argued that Americans would be safer if they spread their values into places where poverty, tyranny, and other factors left no room for those values. As Bush put it in the second inauguaral, we'd "lit a fire in the minds of man" with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; our next step would be to build democracy and free markets, winning over the people who had been won over by the enemy. The Ann Dunham/Ford Foundation version of this involves charity and investment, and no invasion. But it's the same theory at work. It's "anti-colonial" just like overthrowing Saddam Hussein was "anti-Arab."

The DSouza argument, expanded by Neumayr, is... what? That liberal philanthropy is latent communism? That 1960s anti-colonialism is 2010 Marxism? How far do people want to take this to take some whack at Barack Obama? Because the more you read this stuff, the less there is.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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