Postcoloniality and Theology: Barack Obama, Brian McLaren and Forbes Magazine

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.

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2 thoughts on “Postcoloniality and Theology: Barack Obama, Brian McLaren and Forbes Magazine

  1. One of the regular commentors at my blog left a link here. I also responded to McLaren’s piece at Sojourners because I found it deeply flawed. Here are my main critiques:

    A) He assumes that the Christians have always been able to live in the world without being influenced by it’s values. We see this in our day as the values of the world always stand in antithesis to those who follow Jesus.

    B) Justifying one’s domination is nothing new nor is it unique to Orthodox Theology as McLaren thinks it is. Again, this is more the case of Christians being influenced by the world and compromising their faith to it’s values. Look at the Democratic Party’s attempt to dominate society today and make everyone dependent on the State and be at the mercy of an all powerful Bureaucrat.

    C) The charge that Orthodox Theology leads to segregation and even ethnic cleansing is so misguided and seems to be a total violation about Jesus warning about judging. McLaren wants to talk about ethnic cleansing, then how about addressing the fact that he supports a pro-abortion absolutist who even tolerated infanticide.

    D) Sense of entitlement? Is this some kind of joke? Liberalism depends of fostering the notion that others are entitled to what they have not earned. It spreads greed and envy against those who work hard to provide for their families. What else is ObamaCare but a massive new entitlement justified under the idea of justice.

    E) This plays off D and can be turned around on McLaren as well. His “Post-Colonial Theology will make people submit to the ever powerful State he and his Liberal allies are advocating.

    F) Right back at McLaren on this one. His view will create alliances of those who are seeking to make us dependent on the State.

    G) This “Post-Colonial”, this “Liberal Theology” is uniquely adept in hiding its ugly aspects and preempting attempts to expose those advocating it. Liberals have adopted a racially cleansed version of eugenics. By this I mean that they dehumanize all of humanity not just one particular group because of their ethnic make up. Abortion is the most blatant example of this and now ObamaCare will ration health care to the elderly further advancing this eugenics mindset. All this ugliness is usually hid under the seemingly altruistic idea of social justice that the Left loves to us to justify making people dependent on the State. What is needed here is a Conservative conception of social to avoid the all powerful State being able to replace the Christian Church.

    • It’s so funny because only in your comments does the Democratic party come up at all.

      And I reject your response to McLaren simply because I do not believe that Jesus or your version of Christian orthodoxy have the final word politics, and neither do I live by the “liberal versus conservative” binary. The Christian right and left both make me sick to my stomach.

      And if you noticed, I did not say that Orthodoxy=s imperialism; I said that there are certain forms of so-called orthodoxy which are colonial, just like in liberalism there are versions that are colonizing.

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