Conspiracy Theorist Dinesh D’Souza
What bothers me about people obsessed with conspiracy theories is not whether or not those theories are true. Some might be, or at least in part. What bothers me about people obsessed with conspiracy theories is not that they are “challenging the official story” as they invariably envision themselves as always gallantly doing. I think it’s always healthy to challenge official stories. It is not healthy, perhaps, to make up your own stories based on excited speculation, filter it through an angry or chaotic imagination and then wave before the world as “truth.”
No, what I don’t like about people obsessed with conspiracy theories is that they are entirely beside the point.
Boarding the plane leaving Tampa after the Republican convention, I sat near two men, probably in their mid-to-late 50s. Said one man, and I’m paraphrasing: “You know what you need to see? That Obama 2016 movie.” Other man, “Oh yeah, I heard that was really good. Gives us a good idea of what we’re really up against.”
The American Conservative’s Michael Tracey describes what these men thought they were “up against:”
The central theme of D’Souza’s film is that deep-down, Obama harbors seething hatred for America, and thus his presidency has been designed to bring about its downfall by a host of surreptitious means. It’s a revolting hour-and-a-half of cinema, targeted at the most angst-ridden and pliable Americans looking for answers–Americans who in turn have certainly provided Mr. D’Souza with a sizable financial reward.
More importantly, however, the film perpetuates this bizarre conspiracy theory that Obama is some kind of radical “Manchurian Candidate” whose agenda–as Romney put it–is “foreign,” and who poses such an imminent danger to Americans’ way of life that he must be replaced at all costs in November.
Lacking any coherent critique of the past four years, nor any positive platform of his own, Romney has now adopted this line of argument–a line which was once relegated to the ugly Internet fringes.
Tracey is criticizing Romney who apparently has been sprinkling his speeches with some of this D’Souza-esque conspiracy nonsense,sort of like when Donald Trump jumped on the Birther bandwagon–cheap, desperate and tacky.
The dangers posed by President Obama are a healthcare boondoggle that will make an already broken (in cost and in function) entitlement system far worse, his anti-business policies, assaults on civil liberties and the Constitution, a propensity for mindless war similar to his predecessor and his general lovefest with big government-New Deal statism. This is not secret. It is read about, debated and discussed each day, out in the open, everywhere from cable news to individual blogs.
But for many, no, there has to be something extra sinister about Obama, he is some sort of secret Kenyan Muslim Marxist trained by al-Qaeda, or whatever D’Souza can imagine next.
D’Souza’s film has done well. No surprise. There has always been a huge market for this stuff. Go look at many of the conspiracy theory videos on You Tube and plenty of them have thousands upon thousand of views. The dumbest ones often get the biggest audience.
This is because it’s easy. It’s salacious. It’s much more fun or sexy than talking about tax rates or NATO. Even when delving into things cerebral, the goofiest ideas can get far more attention than those more intellectually serious. If Austrian economics is The Godfather or Dr. Zhivago of intellectual pursuits, conspiracy theories are Honey Boo-Boo.
The Washington Examiner’s Gene Healy nails D’Souza:
The whole cinematic mess is the mirror image of Left-wing fascination with Skull and Bones, Haliburton and George W. Bush’s alleged Oedipal complex as explanations for the Iraq War. At least Michael Moore’s crackpot documentaries provide a few impish laughs. In “2016,” all the yuks are unintentional.
At one point, we look over D’Souza’s shoulder while he Googles the president’s half-brother, “George Obama.” The shot reveals the classic facemorph picture of “George W. Obama” on the top line “image” results.
It’s a revealing moment. Despite their disparate backgrounds, both presidents backed expanded executive power over the economy, in surveillance and in wars abroad.
We don’t need psychobiography to explain why presidents continually seek to expand their own power over the people. It’s in their nature, as the scorpion explained to the frog.
“We don’t need psychobiography to explain why presidents continually seek to expand their own power over the people. It’s in their nature…”
Exactly. This is not rocket science. It is human nature 101. It’s government’s nature, Democrat and Republican.
But for those men on the plane that day, it wasn’t enough that Obama was a big government disaster, they needed that extra reason, some other dubiously evil angle to fully turn Obama into the bogey man of their worst nightmares. D’Souza has been willing to oblige them.
The problem with this is not that it’s wrong (though it is). Its that its stupid. It’s a distraction.
These things always are. They appeal to the lowest common denominator. And are entirely beside the point concerning the challenges we actually face and the dangers truly posed.