The Corner

Humbler, Weaker . . . Poorer?

I noted something that Dinesh D’Souza said, in an interview with Deadline Hollywood. It reminded me of a little go-round at National Review, about three years ago. Let me reprint what Dinesh said, then walk down Memory Lane:

DEADLINE: You have been accused of saying that the President doesn’t have America’s best interests at heart.

D’SOUZA: Look, what I say is it’s not that Obama hates America. It’s not that he’s a traitor, that he’s a secret Muslim, that he’s a Manchurian Candidate. He simply subscribes to an ideology that thinks it would be good for America to have a diminished economy and a diminished role in the world. In other words, Obama is all about what he perceives as global justice. And global justice to him means a redistribution of wealth and power away from America and towards the rest of the world. That’s his ideology. He thinks it would be good for America to have a humbler role in the world. He thinks it would be good for America not to be No. 1 but to be No. 18 or No. 34 in the world. It’s part of his vision of global justice. Nowhere do I question his motives or say that he is a bad guy. Rather what I’m saying is these are his beliefs, this is his ideology.

Sometime in 2009, I believe, I said something like the following: “In the dark of night, I fear that Obama and his core supporters want the United States to be humbler, weaker, and poorer.” A colleague wheeled on me, saying, “Humbler and weaker, yes. But surely not poorer, Jay. Surely not poorer.”

That may well be right. But I couldn’t help thinking: When I was growing up, I often heard that people just had too much money. That was the problem with people: They had too much money. That was the problem with America: It was just too damn rich, too damn materialistic, too damn spoiled. Too rich for its own good. Too big for its britches, in every way. We needed to be taken down a peg or two.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase “obscene wealth” — well, I’d be obscenely wealthy. That’s what they said: “He’s obscenely rich, that’s obscene wealth.” When I got older, I decided that poverty was what was obscene. I’ve seen dire poverty, particularly in the Third World. It is obscene.

I also threw off the belief that, if some people were poor, it was because other people were rich.

Anyway — I don’t know. Dinesh is entitled to his views. And though they might be wrong, they are not stupid, by a long shot. Plenty of people think that America is too rich, and harmfully rich. In some places, this is a common view. Indeed an honored, even a regnant, one. (Been to a college campus since 1970 or so?)


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