Conservative pundit criticizes Obama

Dinesh D’Souza defended American exceptionalism in a Friday talk.
Dinesh D’Souza defended American exceptionalism in a Friday talk. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza came to Yale on Friday to discuss American exceptionalism and President Barack Obama’s “anti-colonial” agenda.

During D’Souza’s visit, which was sponsored by the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, he participated in a small conversation group with roughly 12 students and gave a lecture to a larger audience. D’Souza recently directed a documentary film, “2016: Obama’s America,” which has garnered national attention for criticizing Obama’s ideological upbringing. While the seminar focused on religion in America, his lecture — entitled “What’s So Great About America?” — drew nearly 80 students, parents and Connecticut residents to William L. Harkness Hall to hear D’Souza speak about the way in which he thinks Obama betrayed the American dream.

“Countries go up and countries go down,” D’Souza said. “But never before have we had a president who seeks decline — for whom decline is a moral objective.”

D’Souza, who is a native of India, explained how the American dream drew him to the United States. He said the American identity is based on the acceptance of certain ideals, unlike other countries, where nationality “is a function of birth and blood.” Citing historical examples, D’Souza said the values of entrepreneurialism, individualism and idealism in the foreign-policy arena make up the central tenets of American exceptionalism.

But D’Souza said Obama does not embrace American exceptionalism. Instead, he argued, Obama endorses the ideology of anti-colonialism — an ideology that he said rejects entrepreneurship and capitalism. According to anti-colonialists such as Obama, D’Souza said, “America is the leading rogue nation in the world.”

In the Middle East, President Obama’s agenda has allowed “radical Muslims” to bring down “America’s closest allies,” D’Souza said. But in the United States, he added, Obama has sought to impede fossil fuel development, while continuing to champion oil drilling abroad.

D’Souza said unlike past Democratic presidents, Obama’s failures are intentional, adding that he is “the architect of American decline.”

“Is he an America-hater? Is he a traitor? Is he a Manchurian candidate being controlled by some cabal? Is he a secret Muslim? No, no, no and no,” D’Souza said. “[Obama] subscribes to an ideology that sees America as wrong … and he sees his job, and he’s very good at it, at cutting America down to size.”

At his seminar earlier in the day, D’Souza spoke about the rise of secularism and the role of faith in the public sphere, said Bijan Aboutorabi ’13, a student who attended the discussion group.

The audience’s reactions to D’Souza’s talk were mixed. Harry Graver ’14, vice president of the Buckley Program, said he was happy that the event featured a healthy exchange of views, providing a good opportunity for students to interact with D’Souza. But he added that he was “definitely surprised” at how much D’Souza’s lecture focused on Obama instead of offering a historical perspective.

But Jonathan Silverstone ’15, who exchanged remarks with D’Souza about Iran during the lecture, said he was disappointed with D’Souza’s responses.

“It’s easy … to make these broad statements about Obama’s true motivations when you’re completely ignoring all of his policies,” Silverstone said.

Michael Geiser, a parent of a Yale student, said D’Souza “sounded like a politician.” Rosemarie Geiser, his wife who also attended, said she did not agree with D’Souza’s message, though “it was good to hear the opposition.”

D’Souza was the fourth guest brought to Yale by the Buckley Program this year.

Comments

  • jmdiaz10

    For an anti-colonialist, Obama certainly has taken the lead at supporting democratic movements in the Middle East. For someone who is trying to bring about the demise of America, Obama saved the American auto industry. D’Souza is a politician and not an academician. There is nothing wrong with that, but to try to pass off a political platform as some type of academic analysis of Obama is dishonest. One has to wonder what is really driving D’Souza?

    • Dowager

      Saved the auto industry? How about prolonged the agony of its death? They still owe billions, as does this country. Obama hates America and everything it stands for and everything it was founded upon. That much is crystal clear. D’Souza just points out the reasons. The only difference of opinion I have with D’Souza is that I DO believe Obama is a traitor. He fits the very definition, in my opinion. treason |ˈtrēzən|
      noun(also high treason )
      the crime of betraying one’s country

      • Branford73

        Wow, four people so far voted thumbs up on this lunacy?

        This is even crazier than my fellow liberals who seriously thought George Bush II should be impeached for lying to Congress about WMD in Iraq to justify invasion.

      • cincinnatus

        Your Ann Coulter dog-whistle narrow-mindedness must make you really popular at parties.

    • River_Tam

      > For an anti-colonialist, Obama certainly has taken the lead at supporting democratic movements in the Middle East.

      Er… why are these mutually exclusive, or even contradictory?

      • jmdiaz10

        Well, he is imposing Western values on the Middle East. That is a form of political and cultural colonialism. He authorized bombing Libya, which is pretty colonialist by today’s standard. He is not exactly Mr. Hands-off when it comes to exerting American power on the international community. I just do not understand how D’Souza can make a claim that is not supported by the facts. He may not like Obama, and neither do I, but I do not find him to be this great anti-colonialist. Obama is not Ghandi.

        • River_Tam

          > Well, he is imposing Western values on the Middle East.

          How?

          > That is a form of political and cultural colonialism.

          There’s a reason these things are called “political” and “cultural” colonialism, and not just “colonialism”.

  • eli1143770312

    Anti-colonialists are bad? We’ve been celebrating them for 236 years here in America.

    • ldffly

      Anti colonialism theory has broadened its scope since the late 19th century.

      • ldffly

        Meaning the anti colonialism of James Monroe is different from that based on Marxism/Leninism is different from that based on the ideas of Edward Said.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Obama hates America and everything it stands for and everything it was founded upon.”

    This comment approaches the irrational.

    Paul D. Keane

    MDIV80MAMED

    • cincinnatus

      Paul, your understated comment here is pure gold. :)

  • CrazyBus

    I would argue that people using extremist language are traitors, for intentionally polarizing America and undermining our societal infrastructure merely for political purposes. Just saying.

  • yalemarxist

    >Obama endorses the ideology of anti-colonialism — an ideology that he said rejects entrepreneurship and capitalism. According to anti-colonialists such as Obama, D’Souza said, “America is the leading rogue nation in the world.”

    If only… Obama’s rhetoric is pitifully bourgeois. He promises nothing to the proletariat, focusing only on the petty problems of the middle class. The “change we can believe in” was no more than a baby step in the direction of revolution.

    • basho

      yeah… we figured out marxism sucked in the 50s

      • lakia

        Unfortunately, there is a whole new crop who did not get the memo.

  • louisb

    How is Dinesh still alive? Hitchens murdered him. I swear I saw it with my own two eyes!

  • CharlieWalls

    I like best the first comment (by jmdiaz10) and the question. I would add that colonialism is not what it once was, now meaning control for profit, not occupation for profit (i.e., responsibility has vacated colonialism as it has many of today’s business models). Consequently D’Souza’s criticism “ideology of anti-colonialism” is a compliment to many not of his cohort.