Obama’s core ideology? To be an Anticolonialist
President Obama has been doing some strange things, and even his supporters are beginning to wonder what he is up to. He reduces America’s nuclear arsenal while doing virtually nothing to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. He seems reflexively anti-Israel even though Israel is America’s main ally in the Middle East. He publicly protests the release of the Lockerbie bomber, who was involved with the deaths of hundreds of Americans, while sending a private letter to Scottish officials saying America had no objection to the release as long as the terrorist was kept in Scotland. He regards jihadis captured in Afghanistan and Iraq as defendants entitled to the full protection of the U.S. Constitution.
What’s going on here? We can discern this by asking: What is Obama’s core ideology? What is Obama’s dream? Fortunately we don’t have to guess because Obama tells us in his autobiography Dreams From My Father. Obama’s dreams are his father’s dreams.
Obama writes, “It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself.” And everyone who knows Obama well says this. His grandmother Sarah Obama told Newsweek, “The son is realizing everything the father wanted.”
So who was Barack Obama Sr.? First and foremost he was an anticolonialist. He came of age during Africa’s struggle for independence from European rule. I know all about anticolonialism, because I grew up in India in the decades following independence from the British. Anticolonialism was not merely the ideology of Barack Obama Sr.; it was shared by my parents and grandparents and by most of the Third World in the second half of the 20th century.
Anticolonialists divide the world into two groups: the colonizers (white Western oppressors) and the colonized (Third World victims). For modern anticolonialists, the problem is no longer Europe; America is the rogue elephant overrunning the Third World.
If Obama shares his father’s anticolonial ideology, this would explain a lot about his eagerness to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also explain his sympathies for the Lockerbie bomber, not because Obama favors the killing of Americans, but because he views Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi as a resister in a noble cause. Since America is the rogue elephant with a mammoth nuclear arsenal, we can understand why Obama seems more eager to reduce America’s nuclear stockpile than to prevent Iran from obtaining its first nuclear bomb.
Remember, however, that Obama’s father was absent for most of his life. He had to learn the specific tenets of his anticolonial dreams from others. I have uncovered two of Obama’s other mentors whose names never appear in any of Obama’s writings or speeches.
The first is Edward Said, who was Obama’s teacher at Columbia University. Said is the author of influential anticolonial works such as Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism. In the latter work Said blames the West for the sufferings of “ravaged colonial peoples who for centuries endured summary injustice, unending economic oppression, distortion of the social and intimate lives, and a recourseless submission that was a function of unchanging European superiority.”
Before his death in 2003, Said was also the leading American champion of the Palestinian cause. He routinely portrayed Israel as a colonial power occupying Muslim land. As a consequence of his advocacy of armed resistance against Israel, the magazine Commentary dubbed him “Professor of Terror.” If Obama shares Said’s anticolonial view, we can see why he treats Israel more like a villain than an ally.
Obama’s other mentor was his teacher at Harvard Law School, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, perhaps the leading anticolonial scholar in the field of legal studies. While at Harvard, Unger was associated with the Critical Legal Studies movement or “Crits.” According to the Crits, law pretends to be fair and neutral, but it’s really politics by other means; legal structures are merely a camouflage for keeping entrenched interests in power. What’s needed is to topple these interests and replace them, and law can serve this transformative end as well.
Unger’s own vision was even more revolutionary. Basically he advocated pulling down the existing power structures and replacing them with alternative structures more reflective of Third World and minority interests.
Obama took two of Unger’s courses, Jurisprudence and Reinventing Democracy. Obama’s attraction to Unger’s work is obvious. Obama said he went to Harvard Law because it was the “perfect place to examine how the power structure works.” Unger showed him not only how to examine it but also how to dismantle it through the instrument of law.
Given what Obama learned from Unger, we can now better understand why Obama might want to hire defense attorneys for Muslim fighters captured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has found a way to use law as an instrument of politics, and in this case he has chosen to make it a weapon of anticolonial resistance, of giving jihadis the full legal protection of U.S. citizens – and doing it at taxpayer expense.
Obama maintained his connections with Said and Unger after he left Columbia and Harvard. In 1998, while he was a state senator, Obama attended a fund-raiser for the Palestinian cause in Chicago where the keynote speaker was Said. And Obama stayed in close touch with Unger all the way up to the presidential campaign.
One or two enterprising reporters found out about Unger, but he refused to talk to anyone in the press about his pupil and protege. He told David Remnick of the New Yorker the reason for his reticence. “I am a leftist, and by conviction as well as by temperament, a revolutionary. Any association of mine with Barack Obama in the course of the campaign could only do harm.”
So what does Obama, who writes extensively about his own background, say about his two mentors? Nothing. He makes no reference to either in any of his writings or speeches.
Barack Obama was elected president as perhaps the least known man to occupy the Oval Office. Now, two years later, we are only beginning to understand what drives Obama, what makes him do the strange and scary things he is doing. In sum, we are finally finding out the truth about our president – a truth that he has done his best to hide and suppress.
Email Dinesh D’Souza at firstname.lastname@example.org.