Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
Last night my wife and I ventured out for a rare date - 2 for 1 burritos and the documentary 2016: Obama's America, which, surprisingly, is playing at two movie theaters near our central Minnesota home. To find it near a theater near you, look at this list. The film performed extremely well this weekend and has opened at additional theaters across the country.
Imagine my shock, first of all, to find the theater three-quarters full on a Monday night, with people of all ages. When I asked the theater staff person how the movie has been doing, he replied, "This movie has been doing very well here."
Dinesh D'Souza's cautionary documentary, based on his book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," is well crafted. It spans the globe, taking viewers to India, Indonesia, Hawaii, and Kenya - recreating scenes from Barack Obama's and D'Souza's life to share their history and how their environment shaped them both.
D'Souza points out that he and the president share many similarities. Both were born in the same year. Both attended Ivy League schools. Both graduated from college in the same year. Both were married in the same year, and both spent time in former colonial countries. It is this last element that D'Souza spends the most time examining.
Avoiding the rhetoric employed by many pundits who describe Obama as a socialist or a Marxist, D'Souza makes a convincing argument that the dream Obama inherited from his father, and which was effectively passed on through his mother, his mentor and many others whom he associated with, was an anti-colonialist dream.
The film effectively utilizes prominent commentators to shed light on Obama. Psychologist Paul Vitz talks about the impact of an absent father. The Hoover Institute's Shelby Steele talks about how Obama's ability to appeal to both African-Americans and whites helped him get elected the first time. Daniel Pipes speaks about the dangers in the Middle East and President Obama's inconsistent way of dealing with the Middle East. Former US comptroller David Walker sheds some light on our current unsustainable debt situation. Obama's Kenyan half-brother George doesn't share his brother's anti-colonial views. Paul Kengor talks about Obama's intimate connections with his mentor Hawaiian Communist Frank Marshall Davis.
Much of the material presented by the documentary isn't new, yet it's put together in a cohesive and convincing manner. It's a thinking man's Fahrenheit 9/11. The film does what the mainstream media has refused to do, taking an honest look at Obama's history, his problematic connections, and his desire for America. D'Souza notes that Obama's founding fathers are not Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, but Communist Frank Marshall Davis, terrorist Bill Ayers, liberation theologian and pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and pro-Palestinian professor Edward Said.
D'Souza uses his anti-colonial thesis to explain why the President has made many of the decisions he has, such as returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the U.K., siding with the Falkland Islands against the U.K., drastically reducing America's nuclear arsenal, preventing off-shore American oil drilling, while allowing it off shore of Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere, embracing universal healthcare, getting the government into private industry, and continuing to triple our national debt.
While the film's timing did not allow it to include the now infamous Obama quote, "You didn't build that," the film sheds a great deal of light on the philosophy behind the president's statement. Businesses, he believes, have been unfairly built on the backs of others.
The film is largely narrated by D'Souza, yet includes many Obama quotes, most in Obama's own voice, taken from his biography, "Dreams from My Father."
The film doesn't fear-monger. It's not extreme. It's a calm, scholarly, fascinating look at a man whom few really knew in 2008. At the film's end, based on the president's previous actions, D'Souza makes three predictions, all of which appear to be taking place.
Sadly, the film doesn't explore the president's attack on religious freedom, other than to note that Obama's views against capitalism, Christianity, and corporations were shaped by the radical anti-colonialist views of his father, mother and associates.
"I chose my friends carefully," we hear Obama say in the film. "The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets."
At the end of the film, the patrons in the theater errupted into spontaneous applause. As I left, I asked a fellow patron what he thought of the film.
"It told me a lot that I already knew," he said, "but it's an important film. Others should definitely see it."
I could not agree more. Whatever your politics, you should see this film.