TAMPA, Fla. — Just 24 hours ago I had never heard of “2016: Obama’s America.”
Now the new documentary film by Dinesh D’Souza is all I can think about.
I first heard about the movie from actor Jon Voight, who appeared at the Republican National Convention to sound the alarm about how the administration of President Barack Obama was dangerous for America.
“Everyone should see ‘2016,’” he said. “It is not a partisan film, it is just the truth.”
I duly went out and saw it, eager to see what lay behind Voight’s enthusiasm.
The “truth,” according to filmmaker D’Souza, is simple: Obama is on a mission to destroy America, because of the anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist, anti-Christian “dreams” he inherited from his Kenyan father.
D’Souza is the president of The King’s College, a Christian institution in New York City. He is also a one-man Obama-bashing band, the author of such books as “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and “Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream.”
He has outdone himself with the 90-minute film, which purports to unmask the real motivation behind Obama’s actions as president. Over three years, D’Souza traced Obama’s history, talking to people who knew his father, Barack Obama Sr., who, it turns out, is the most important influence in young Obama’s life, despite his having met the man only once in his life.
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D’Souza is able to get his message across without actually using words that might make people uncomfortable. For those who may need a translation, in D’Souza-speak, “anti-capitalist” means “Communist,” “anti-Christian” means “Muslim,” and, most importantly, “anti-colonialist” means “anti-white.”
So, deconstructing the film, we have “Obama, the radical Communist Muslim who hates white folks and is trying to take your country away.”
It’s quite a slogan for an election campaign that is becoming ever more contentious as the days tick by and polls show almost no daylight between the candidates.
D’Souza, who is from India, denies that he is racist. How can he be? His skin and Obama’s are about the same color, he points out.
Nevertheless, his film is a deft exercise in motivating racial and political fears among voters.
“We did not know Obama in 2008,” he concludes. “Now we do. Will we have the American dream in 2016, or Obama’s dream?”
The theater in Dunedin where I saw the film had just a few dozen people in it — but several of them clapped at the end.
In the Tampa Convention Center, where the journalists hang out, a group of correspondents behind me were discussing “2016” enthusiastically, commenting on how well-made it was.
Yes, it is professional, slick, interesting, and persuasive. It is also doing extremely well, coming in as the seventh-biggest movie of last weekend — almost unheard of for a documentary.
Not surprisingly, it has been eagerly embraced by conservative personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who praise the filmmaker for his “insight.”
But the message is also getting out into the general public. It is unlikely to convince those who support the president, but it will give added ammunition and a theoretical construct to those who want to tear him down.
“Obama is disastrous for America,” said Reverend Byran Russell, president of the Faith Gospel Association World Wide Inc. “He is trying to destroy the country. I would call him ‘ungodly.’”
The reverend moonlights as a parking attendant, and is eager to get his message out.
“If you love your country, you have to tell people of the consequences of Obama’s actions!” he insisted. “He is a radical communist, an anti-colonialist. He told Hosni Mubarak in Egypt that he was a Muslim.”
Noticing my surprise, he pushed on. “You did not know about that? It is true. I know these things. I know all about Obama. I have incredible insight. I am a visionary.”
Russell denied he had seen "2016," but he went on to quote the film chapter and verse.
“He told the president of Russia that he would be with him after the election,” he said, referring to the open-mike conversation between Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last March, in which the US president told his Russian counterpart that he would have more flexibility to conduct bilateral talks after November.
In Russell’s opinion, this was just another sign of Obama’s continuing bid to sell out the country.
“He has all these dreams from his father,” said Russell. “He is trying to destroy America.”
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