'Birtherism With Big Words'

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Adam Serwer claps back at Dinesh D'Souza laughable contention that Obama exhibits "Kenyan anti-colonial behavior."


If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting financial regulation, than Scott Brown is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, then Michael Bloomberg is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-Colonialist for supporting health care insurance reform, then Ben Nelson is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. The Center for American Progress is a Kenyan anti-colonialist think tank, MoveOn is a Kenyan anti-colonialist advocacy organization, and Peter Orszag is a Kenyan anti-colonialist intellectual. 

All of which to say is there's no need to parse the ethnic origins or political philosophies of Obama's parents to understand the ideology of Barack Obama. He is a center-left Democrat who supports mainstream Democratic policies. But some conservatives don't want to talk about policy. They are unable to engage an argument with liberalism on substantive terms, they know only argument by epithet. They want to talk about the fact that our blackety black president is blackety black. It has been two years since a black man was elected president of the United States, and for a group of conservatives clinging to their cultural superiority, this was a moment of apocalyptic existential crisis, a moment that refuted all they had come to know and understand about themselves, about black people, and about this country. D'Souza is writing for them, the same kind of audience he has always written for.

Adam leads by noting that racism is often just another form of intellectual laziness. Indeed. And all the other times it's just intellectual dishonesty. I once had an editor who people used to say would hear a good headline and then tell reporters to go find a story to match it. Likewise, D'Souza's work is the product of a debate culture that markets provocative rhetoric as substantive argument. So for D'Souza the question isn't, "How does Obama think?" as his piece supposes, it's "How do I get Newt Gingrich to quote me?"

Expect a book soon. When that happens, hopefully D'Souza will go on Colbert again. Somehow I doubt it.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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