Dinesh D’Douza’s new book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, has a reputation that precedes it — in large part due to some advance buzz from Newt Gingrich and a piece in Forbes. Now that the book is on shelves, in a conversation with NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, Dinesh D’Souza seeks to set the record straight about The Roots, and Obama.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What makes you so sure you know how Obama thinks?
DINESH D’SOUZA: It’s really simple: I figure out how Obama thinks by reading what Obama writes and says. My theory about Obama is really derived from Obama himself. It’s quite silly how people are saying things like, well, Obama didn’t really know his absentee father, so he couldn’t have been influenced by him. Go read his book, starting with the title Dreams from My Father. The whole book is about how Obama shaped his values, personality, and identity in the image of his father. So I took Obama at his word on this and then asked the question, “If Obama took his father’s anti-colonial ideology, how does that help to explain his policies?” Not only it does it explain Obama’s foreign and domestic policy, it also explains lots of little details about Obama’s actions that no other theory can explain.
LOPEZ: Be honest. You were worried everything had been said about Barack Obama, so you looked for something new and found yourself in Kenya.
D’SOUZA: Actually, I started with another theory about Obama, no less original. My working hypothesis was that Obama was really a civil-rights guy — shaped, that is, by the ideals of the civil-rights movement. This would explain Obama’s fierce allegiance to the federal government. After all, it was the federal government that desegregated the schools; the federal government helped to create a black middle class; to this day, blacks are much more sympathetic to the federal government than whites. So this was my theory: Obama is a civil-rights guy, but his innovation was to take the black civil-rights agenda and remove the word “black.” It was only when I began to study Obama’s own background that I realized that my theory was wrong. Obama has little or nothing to do with the civil-rights movement. His roots are in Kenya, and he is shaped far more by anti-colonialism than by anything that Martin Luther King said or did.
LOPEZ: Much of your argument could have been made during the presidential campaign — based on Barack Obama’s own writings. Why is it new and important now?
D’SOUZA: My argument is relevant now because if we know what motivates Obama, we have his compass. Not only can we explain what he is doing, but we can also predict what he is going to do in the future. For instance, there is a lot of speculation now about whether Obama will be a centrist after the midterm election, like Bill Clinton became after 1994. My theory says that he won’t because he cannot. Clinton was largely a non-ideological guy. If Obama came by his liberalism in the faculty lounge, then sure, he can see it hasn’t worked and he can modify it. But if Obama got his formative ideas when he was very young, and if they are the result of his traumatic relationship with his father, then they are built into his psyche. He’s not going to change because, to his anti-colonial mindset, meeting the Republicans halfway is a form of sellout. He would be untrue to his principles if he were to cut deals with a group that he considers to be the neocolonial party.