Sunday, I came across Dinesh D’Souza’s article in Forbes’ magazine via Craig Carter’s blog. As anyone who knows my libertarian politics via Facebook and Twitter, I am hardly a defender of the current administration, *cough cough* PUMA, *cough, cough. However, to claim that Obama is a postcolonial professor in the White House carrying on his father’s legacy not only makes Obama The Other, as conservative online magazine First Things pointed out, it also maintains the “insider-outsider” for persons of color in comparison to cultures from European descent. (And by my use of the term, color, I mean race as a social construct).
By any stretch, D’Souza’s article racializes the debate, especially when it comes to American imperial foreign policy preferences. By his definition of anti-colonial/post-colonial, non-white persons who critique empire building are Marxists, but say, what about the historical William Jennings Bryans, the Ron Pauls, and the Henry Cabot Lodges of American history?? At least the last two are the great protesters against empire building and DEFENDERS of the free market. It just does not make any sense why D’Souza went out of his way to NOT place Barack Obama within the strain of historical Woodrow Wilsonian progressivism unless his goal was to, as mentioned earlier, point out how un-American, and there-go, how Africans are so much unlike US citizens by implication.
Dr. D’Souza should be honest; both he and the President are just as committed to the principles to the Enlightenment as the next person; all of us are in some capacity or another. We just simply need to recognize that and be honest, resisting attempts which re-inscribe hegemonic dichotomies such as West/East (East according to who? Where westward?). If anything, anti-colonialism is American as baseball and apple pie; should we forget that the original “tea-partiers” and founders, the freed enslaved Africans, and women in the 18th century were all part of the most successful and inspirational anti-colonial struggle of all time, making the transition from colony to the first democratic-republic in human history. It was called the “American Revolution,” was it not?
Very rarely do I side with former evangelical Christian now mainstream emergent/emerging thinker Brian McLaren, but I must commend him in his recent efforts to understand the post-colonial conversation. In his latest piece, he explains his understanding of how he sees the relationship between knowledge and power. Using McLaren’s description of what colonizing Christian theology looks like, D’Souza’s article is an example of an apology for the colonization of, for example, African peoples much like his fellow conservative Enlightenment theist John Milbank who I highlighted last week. It seems that some conservative Christians confuse the sharing of the good news of God’s commonwealth with empire building and a top-down racial hierarchy.