Newt Gingrich’s recent comments alleging that Obama’s is driven by “Kenyan anti-colonial” attitudes, when combined with increasingly bizarre statements from Tea Party candidates, suggest something that isn’t apparent on the surface: That we’re witnessing the “last gasp” of a dying, descending set of attitudes and values regarding individual and public policy, including what it is to be an American.
I think these kinds of statements reflect growing desperation about sweeping changes in our society. That is, the country is steadily shifting towards a diverse population, and acceptance of that diversity. And, towards growing recognition of the need to serve the larger common good; that we’re all in the same boat in this globalized world, and we will stand or fall together, as President Obama recently stated.
But it just doesn’t look like that shift is happening at present, because the period we’re living through is one of a growing but temporary backlash against those changes, from people who view them with fears and a sense of loss. They should be understood, but not condoned or excused.
A good illustration of the reactionary thinking in response to steadily growing social change is the essay that Gingrich based his comments on – A Forbes cover story on “How Obama Thinks” by Dinesh D’Souza. A Columbia Journalism Review article by Ryan Chittum calls it a “…shameful piece on Obama as the ‘Other,’” and “The worst kind of smear journalism.”
Chittum writes, “How Obama Thinks” is a gross piece of innuendo—a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia. Forbes for some reason gives Dinesh D’Souza the cover and lots of space to froth about the notion popular in the right-wing fever swamps that Obama is an “other”; that he doesn’t think like “an American,” that his actions benefit foreigners rather than Amurricans. It’s too kind to call this innuendo. It’s far too overt for that.
D’Souza’s distortions and lies are clearly designed to make Obama appear to be anti-American, and anti-white; someone different from “us” who’s bent on carrying out the African tribal mission of his father (whom he met one time, briefly, at age 10). Chittum’s analysis and dissection of D’Souza’s story is worth reading. Here’s the full article from the Columbia Journalism Review.