Will 2016 Look Like The Movie Suggests?

After two viewings of “2016: Obama’s America”, the new film by Dinesh D’Souza, I want to summarize and offer my thoughts to those of you who either don’t have time to watch or are unable to (the movie is not offered in all theaters).

Obviously, with a political documentary, one typically expects some sort of propaganda with eerie music, creepy voices, and warnings of doom. The trailer for 2016 certainly suggested that the movie would be exactly that.

However, after watching the entire movie twice, I invite you all to consider again the worried thoughts you may have about the movie. D’Souza comes off as intellectual, calm, and rational.

If you are a die-hard Obama supporter and “could never watch that garbage”, I remind you that Ronald Reagan, a strong critic of collectivism, regularly read Marx. If you truly believe the movie is full of incorrect facts, then I invite you to watch it and point out the points that are misleading. Plenty of journalists have done independent “fact-checks”, prompting more to “fact-check the fact-checks”. This is exactly the point of a documentary – to make people think.

The movie focuses primarily on the President’s family history, briefly touching on his record in office as well. D’Souza argues that Obama’s decisions are influenced by “anti-colonialism”, a theory that blames rich countries of the world for exploiting the poor countries’ people and resources.

To back up this claim, D’Souza tells the story of Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., who strongly believed in the evils of colonialism.

Soon after young Barack’s birth, Obama Sr. moved back to Kenya. D’Souza explains how, despite the father’s absence during Obama’s childhood, his worldview and politics were kept alive by Obama’s mother. The evidence that President Obama follows in his father’s footsteps is mostly based on quotes used directly from Obama’s book: “Dreams From My Father”.

More intriguing is the nature of Obama’s friends and mentors, many of them previously unknown to voters. D’Souza alleges that Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist Party Member who was tracked by the FBI, was Obama’s mentor for eight years. The movie also explores some of Obama’s other radical friends in Chicago, briefly touching on the episode with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s association with Bill Ayers, a communist revolutionary that bombed several public buildings (including the Pentagon and Capitol) in the 60s and 70s.

Though the movie does utilize some dramatic music and intimidating graphics, it is more of a documentary of interviews. However, D’Souza does predict danger to America if Obama is re-elected. Even if you do not concede that the worldview of Obama’s parents and friends affected him, the movie brings up some interesting questions about Obama’s past. The film is worth seeing by anyone looking to encourage their own critical thinking, regardless of their political affiliation.

A variation of this article was also published in the Baylor Lariat on 9/12/12.

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20 responses to “Will 2016 Look Like The Movie Suggests?

  1. “People who want “equitable distribution” don’t really want “equitable distribution” to mean “equal”. ” Exactly. That’s precisely why we need to think about what ‘equitable’ means. I’d like to see a post about that from you. I need some help. (By the way, don’t forget the parable about everyone getting the same wage no matter when they started in the day.)

    • Sure, l’ll have to do a post on that sometime.

      And I haven’t forgotten that parable. The point (from what I can tell) is that people can be saved at any point, and it’s not “unfair” of God. If you want to apply it to business, it seems to say that the owner can pay workers however he wants- because it’s his farm. Doesn’t Jesus speak against the workers who complain about not getting a “fair” enough amount and tell them to be happy with what they’ve been given? (again, I would still think that the parable was about heaven, not pay, but still)

  2. 1. It’s called deficit spending. Fair share might mitigate that a smidge. (smirk)

    3. Without evidence, my take is old rich are liberal, new rich are conservative.

    I agree there’s no way to check ‘who has more of these things.’

    Liberal rich or conservative rich, without quoting hard evidence, I’m one who believes the rich are not paying their fair share. I’m not just talking about rates. I know their assessed rates are higher and we can debate whether that should be or not, and what’s fair share……..but what I’m wondering is what are the comparative percentages actually paid. Romney, and I suspect Obama too, pay a lower percentage than I do for sure.They are also being asked to pay at significantly lower assessed rates than in past decades, and certainly less than the Clinton era, an era of balanced budgets, or at least close to it as I recall. I may be able to be convinced that a flat tax is a good idea. I need to know more.

    • You said it yourself – your son GETS money from the government. Meanwhile, he gets to use the same roads, schools, fire, police, and EMS services, gets defended by the same military, and gets protected by the same regulations.

      Meanwhile, some interesting tax stats.
      – Top 1% makes 22.83% income, pays 40.42% of taxes
      – Top 5% makes 37.44% income, pays 60.63% of taxes
      – Top 10% makes 48.05% income, pays 71.22% of taxes
      – Top 50% makes 87.74% income, pays 97.11% taxes

      • Wow! These stats are interesting. I’m assuming they do not need to be fact-checked. However, I am experiencing cognitive dissonance. How does this square with the argument that increasing taxes on the top 1% has a negligible effect on revenue? If the top 1% is paying taxes at similar rate to Romney on average (13-16%), then raising that another 4 to 5 % should raise a huge amount of revenue. (Pardon me if my math is bad.)
        Also, I would think Republicans would be shouting from the rooftops that the top 1% are paying 40+% of taxes already.
        I also would expect the Democrats to be shouting that the bottom half of our population is making a mere 13-% of the income. I can understand why they would want income re-distribution.
        These are powerful stats.
        Is the bottom half complaining that our taxes are too high? I hope not.
        In your estimation, do these stats amount to equitable (fair) distribution of wealth and of tax burden? Do these stats represent a state of societal health or are they cause for concern?

  3. I think I’ll pass on watching the film.
    1. After perusing a couple of D’Souza’s books, I’ve concluded they are textbook examples of eloquent (May I say brilliant ?) card-stacking propaganda. He is he opposite of Michael Moore on the spectrum. (Michael Moore is another brilliant propagandist.)
    2. I believe it may be good for us to rethink some of the past action we have taken with our allies or encouraged them to take with us. (Our actions in Iraq would be an example of this.)
    3. Seeking reapprochemnt with hostile regimes may be a policy worth considering. It may indeed be a sign of moral strength rather than ‘a weakened America on the foreign stage.’ It may be more practical as well.
    4. Maybe I’m willing to consider redistributionist policies as something other than a great evil, maybe even consider them a possible moral and practical good. (Compare Israel’s rules concerning a year of Jubilee.)
    5. Could being anti-colonial possibly be a good thing?
    6. If I know myself, watching this film is more likely to cause entrenchment of current views rather than any re-consideration. In addition, not watching this film will be better for my health. My blood pressure will stay within normal parameters. (smile)
    Thanks for posting the internal links. They were helpful, although which fact checking article we preferred likely differs.

      • Nice link on Jubilee. That’s a conversation I think that needs to be had more within the Church.

        I remember watching a documentary with contrary views once: Bill Maher’s “Religulous.” I’m afraid that one was not as thought-provoking.

          • I saw the film a few weeks ago, and commented on its significance:

            http://cogitatingduck.com/2012/08/30/2016-and-rnc-increasingly-visible-minority-conservatives-buck-liberalism/

            As to the content itself, I think the first part, which exposes Obama’s background and influences, is much more interesting and solid than the last quarter of the film, where he tries to paint America after a second Obama term. I do think we’re going to be in a bad way if he wins reelection, but the picture was a little too apocalyptic. Indeed, in the past couple of days we’ve seen Carter-era chaos from the Middle East, but to bandy a “United States of Islam” will strike some sensibilities as a little cheesy or far-fetched.

            Yet, this film will be worthwhile for general audiences, if only to learn the intellectual milieu that has undoubtedly colored our President’s worldview. And, D’Souza’s uncommon perspective as one who grew up in the “brown” global South is a refreshing change from the media’s unyielding focus on working class, swing state whites.

          • Agreed – the historical part was excellent. Just facts and quotes.

            The “United States of Islam” served to discredit the rest of the movie, causing people to go “Oh…this guy’s crazy.”

      • 1. I did not see Michael Moore’s ‘capitalism’ movie either. i prefer more nuanced opinion pieces/opportunities. USA Today’s opposing editorials for example, or when NPR has two guests from differing places on the political spectrum. I don’t find reading extreme propaganda on either side very helpful. Most propaganda is so heavily weighted on one side as to border on deceit; I feel I’m more likely to become ill-informed rather than well-informed. I prefer pieces that recognize complexity and see both good and bad in most things, specify those things and then thoughtfully weigh them. I also believe propaganda such as Moore’s and D’Souza’s shows little respect for the audience, sees people as objects for manipulation.
        2. Yes, Jubilee did entail returning land to its originally assigned tenant, no matter the status of one’s wealth. However, that act, along with the canceling of debts certainly would have a powerful redistribution effect. One could discuss whether or not that was one of God’s intended effects.
        3. What we ARE told is that the purpose of Jubilee was to remind Israelites that the land was God’s not theirs. They were tenants, both of the land and the wealth. No matter what our current political position on redistribution of wealth, we all would do well to ask ourselves, what would you, God, have us do with what is in reality your money/wealth? We should ask this individually as well as a society and a nation.
        4. If we all desire ‘equitable’ distribution in hope that that is God’s desire, then we need to discuss, “What does equitable mean?” “Is our distribution currently equitable?” And, “What methods best accomplish equitable distribution?” Perhaps we need to first discuss whether equitable distribution is desirable and, for we Christians, an accurate assessment of God’s desire.
        5. I’d like to see some kind of documentary/ Sunday A.M. TV show/ hour long news special dealing with those issues with multiple viewpoints expressed.
        6. If I had a communist friend, whose viewpoints I respected enough such that they shaped aspects of my political worldview, would that inherently be bad or make me less desirable as a presidential candidate?

        • I agree – I think we should ask ourselves “what would God have us do with our wealth?” And I think people do that often, resulting in millions upon millions of dollars donated to charity. (Ironically, more by conservatives than liberals – even though liberals are richer on average. This is probably owing to the fact that more conservatives are religious.)

          The problem is, no one “distributes” the wealth in our society. No one person gets to decide who is rich and poor (unless you count God). The reason I often oppose government “redistribution” tactics is because they claim to “help” poor people, when really they are used to pay off lobbyists and special interests for re-election. I think the charities we give to have much less in the way of ulterior motives.

          If you did have a communist friend who mentored you for eight years and shaped your worldview as well as a friend who bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and police stations across the country, I definitely think that should be known information during your campaign.

          • 1. Aren’t taxes, deductions and credits have the effect of distributing/re-distributing income?
            2. “The reason I often oppose government “redistribution” tactics is because they claim to “help” poor people, when really they are used to pay off lobbyists and special interests for re-election.” Sorry, I have no clue what this statement means.
            3. Conservatives donate more money. True. I wonder who pays more percentage wise in taxes? Has any one ever investigated that? I also wonder who donates more in volunteer services. Maybe conservatives do that more also.
            4. “If you did have a communist friend who mentored you for eight years and shaped your worldview as well as a friend who bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and police stations across the country, I definitely think that should be known information during your campaign.” Perhaps. Are we supposed to stay away from anyone with a troubled or sordid past? I’d like to avoid guilt by association. I’d like to know, “What was the content of the worldview shaping?” “Is the bomber still a terrorist or was that in the persons past and his/her views/actions have now changed?” Maybe I should also know who is donating the large sums of money to help a person get elected…..If we need to know who a candidates past friends are and guess how they have influenced him/her…what’s fair is fair. I’d like to know who a candidate’s ‘Citizens United’ big money friends are.

          • 1) Takes, deductions, etc. “redistribute” income in a way – but they are generally intended to take from all to pay for communal benefits, rather than taking from some to hand out to others.

            2) The book on the bailouts would help understand that statement a little better. Or take a stab at reading the healthcare law or the tax code. Except you can’t, because they’re thousands of pages long. These programs that advocate “helping people” are full of little conditions, loopholes, and benefits for special interests that try to lobby for a little extra government money.

            3) Who pays more taxes? Well, the tax rate is the same regardless if you’re a conservative or a liberal. As for volunteer time, conservatives donate more (as well as more blood if you’re interested).

            4) I still think it’s a valuable thing to know so that we can attempt to measure the influence.

            • 1 & 2. That’s interesting. My-son-in-law gets enough deductions and credits from mortgage, charity, and children such that not only does he not pay income tax, he gets money!
              3. Sure the tax rates are the same, but who has more off-shore accounts, tax havens, and capital gains rather than income taxes, and hired accountants? Conservatives or liberals?
              4. I agree. What we do with that knowledge is the real ethical concern.

              He’s lower middle class. Somebody’s income got re-distributed to him.

              • 1. And yet, people still say the rich don’t pay their “fair share”? Hmm…

                3. The reason people have these accounts is that they’re legal ways to get around the maze of regulations. Make the tax code simpler, problem solved. I would imagine that the richer people tend to have more of these things, which would mean liberals, but I have no idea how to check.

          • Do you think equitable distribution of wealth is God’s desire? Or is the term ‘equitable distribution’ too vague a term for this question to have any meaning? The current trends of the past decades which indicate a smaller and smaller percentage of people hold a greater and greater percentage of the wealth trouble me. The fact that the middle class is also shrinking troubles me. The fact that the percentage of lower income people is growing troubles me. I, of course, am assuming these trends are not healthy for our country and that they point to some trend of inequitable distribution, thus I have a thirst for something more ‘equitable.’

          • I don’t think Jesus came to make everyone equal in wealth. See the parable of the talents. I think Jesus came to teach us that judging our status in life based on wealth is ridiculous, because we have a greater future in heaven. Complaining about other people being richer is just as bad as taking pride in being rich. They both focus on worldly possessions.

            People who want “equitable distribution” don’t really want “equitable distribution” to mean “equal”. You don’t want to make the same salary as your friends who skip work or slack off.

            As for the economic mobility arguments, I’m going to write a whole post about that sometime. Too many statistics to post in one comment.

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