Dinesh D’Souza found in the United States a land of opportunity: Free from India’s repressive caste system, here was a nation where the native of Mumbai could determine his own destiny, a land where a poor boy could actually improve his lot in life through education and hard work. To him, it was like being loosed from the chains of bondage.

The U.S. is not a perfect country, and it falls short of its own ideals, D’Souza discovered, but it is still the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.

D’Souza’s father, however, warned him that the U.S. was a land of “white” people, those conquering colonialists who had invaded the third world, stripped it of its resources and grew rich off the wealth of other people’s land. The greedy Western capitalists, he believed, built their riches on the backs of Asians, South Americans and Africans, then left the natives to rot in barren lands of squalor. The West, he warned, is a land of crooks and thieves who should give back to the world what they stole.

Two very different impressions of Western nations like the U.S. and U.K., no?

But which vision better explains the actions of Barack Obama in office?

Could this anti-colonialist loathing for the wealthy nations of the West explain Obama’s apology tours? His odd choice in the first 40 days of his administration to return to England a bust of Winston Churchill, the man who crushed Kenya’s Mau Mau independence uprising in the 1950s and allegedly was responsible for torturing Obama’s grandfather? His State Department’s policy-reversing urging of negotiations between Argentina and the U.K. over the fate of the Falkland Islands?

And since Barack Obama Sr. was an anti-colonialist in the extreme, whose radical rhetoric made D’Souza’s pop’s pale in comparison, could those same views have penetrated the perspective of Obama Jr., author of “Dreams from My Father”?

These mind-bending questions presented in D’Souza’s surprise hit movie “2016: Obama’s America” suggest Obama’s political opponents may have been looking at him all wrong – rather than a leftwing socialist, the movie suggests, Obama could simply be a closet anti-colonialist.

“I was trying to fit Obama into American history,” the movie explains, “instead of into his own history.”

Oh, but there’s nothing “simple” about having an anti-colonialist in the Oval Office.

If D’Souza is right that Obama has concealed a raging anti-colonialist worldview in a false cloak of Ivy-league liberalism, then many of the Internet’s wildest rumors could prove legitimate: Obama actually would want to see the U.S. economy crumble; his budget cuts and nuclear reduction drive really would be an attempt to undermine the U.S. as a world superpower; his push for global warming initiatives really could be just a way of forcing developed countries to pay undeveloped nations billions in reparations; and … well, really … he would hate America.

As Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum said in an interview in the film, “[Obama] doesn’t want the influence of the U.S. to expand, and that’s a strange thing for a U.S. president.”

As the movie points out, anti-colonialism in the White House would dramatically affect a president’s foreign policy: He would show sympathy for the Palestinians, for example, as the poor neighbors to Israeli “occupiers”; he would show animosity toward the British Empire; he would seek to redistribute the wealth and power of Western nations around the world; he would resent any superpower and weaken it militarily.

Economically, he would increase his country’s indebtedness to the rest of the world, stop the U.S. from developing natural resources – like oil, for example – and encourage, say, South American nations to drill instead. He might even demand the U.S. stop leading the world in, say, space exploration, and build up the scientific communities of third world nations instead.

Of course, as “2016: Obama’s America” points out, Obama has already done all these things.

And when you factor in Obama’s mentor figures – like Edward Said, a radical anti-Western Palestinian who taught Obama at Columbia and knew the would-be president in Chicago, or Brazilian socialist Roberto Mangabeira Unger, who reportedly taught Obama in a class called “Reinventing Democracy” at Harvard, or Obama’s pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose brand of liberation theology, with its oppressed-victim and anti-American themes, sounds a lot like a religious incarnation of anti-colonialism – it seems all the more plausible that D’Souza may be on to something, that the sitting president may indeed harbor a political philosophy steeped in an African’s resentment of the USA.

As radio host Mike Rosen wrote recently in the Denver Post, “D’Souza isn’t a conspiracy theorist. He hasn’t invented the anti-colonialist screed. It’s proudly and openly on display throughout American universities. Tenured, Blame-America-First academics have built careers on it.”

The question is, when Obama was being taught it at Columbia and Harvard, when he was digesting it among the “dreams from [his] father,” did he actually buy into anti-colonialism’s bald-faced hatred for America?

If so, it may be time for voters to radically rethink what dangers could lie ahead if Obama were still president in 2016 – hence the title of D’Souza’s film.

Unfortunately for fans of D’Souza’s theory, his film frames the argument in a somewhat dull package. Filled with far too much B-roll footage, it feels as though the material is being stretched too thin (what’s with all the clouds, anyway?) to fit a 90-minute film and isn’t nearly as entertaining as some other political films I’ve seen, such as “I Want Your Money.” The hypercritical imagery in the film can get a bit thick, too, such as the use of snake graphics and flames and other visual cues that I suspect will appear so partisan that Obama’s supporters won’t give any credence to the film’s message.

Nonetheless, “2016: Obama’s America” is a powerful, powerful lesson on politics. It is a resounding warning that putting “hope” in a candidate because he promises “change” – without knowing what that change may be – is a frighteningly dangerous proposition. D’Souza’s film teaches especially the political newbie why it’s imperative to research before you vote, to let the sound bites and slogans slide right off your back and understand instead the worldview of the man or woman you plan to elect.

Content advisory:

  • “2016: Obama’s America” contains only a couple of profanities in the form of quotes from Rev. Wright.
  • The film’s sexuality is similarly mild, consisting of some shirtless men, a few Hawaiian hula dancers in swimming suits and a brief shot of the nude photos – redacted with black bars to hide full nudity – that Frank Davis reportedly took of Obama’s mother.
  • The film’s only violence is in newsreel footage of protesters, wars and blacks being sprayed with hoses during the U.S. civil rights era. No graphic bloodshed or gore is present.
  • For religious and occult content, the film contained only some untranslated African singing – which may or may not have been religious in nature – and a few brief clips of Rev. Wright’s sermons.

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