In a documentary arguing that President Barack Obama’s policies are the result of strong anti-colonialist sentiments, former Dartmouth Review Editor-in-Chief and conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza has transitioned into the film world with his release of the controversial “2016: Obama’s America,” which has become the highest grossing conservative documentary of all time.
The film, which was released on July 13 and has since made $26 million, posits that in contrast to the American dream, “Obama’s dream” is born out of his father’s anti-colonialist mentality and will result in catastrophic policy positions, according to New York Times reviewer Stanley Fish.
In the film, D’Souza visits multiple countries to conduct research, which includes an interview with the president’s half-brother, George Obama.
Based on D’Souza’s 2010 book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” the documentary relies heavily on unproven and controversial theories, according to College Democrats President Mason Cole.
“The movie really avoided the policy issues,” Cole said. “It spent too much time pursuing the tedious link between the president and his father’s allegedly anti-colonialist views.”
In an Associated Press article, Beth Fouhy disputed multiple claims made in the documentary, including the argument that Obama is sympathetic to Muslim jihadists, that he has strangely avoided placing harsh sanctions on Iran, that he is determined to return control of the Falkland Islands back to Argentina and that he deliberately removed Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office due to its association with British colonialism.
D’Souza defended these claims in a Sept. 3 post on his website and said that he was not contacted by the AP to check the facts in Fouhy’s article.
Sterling Beard, former Dartmouth Review editor-in-chief, said he agreed with the film in that he believes Obama’s idea of fairness is different from the traditional American view.
“[Obama] is more interested in equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities,” Beard said.
Beard pointed to Solyndra, the solar manufacturing company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after receiving a $527-million federal loan, as an example of the president’s skewed notion of fairness.
Fish, a friend of D’Souza’s and a humanities and law professor at Florida International University, said in his review that D’Souza’s main argument is that Obama’s polices are “un-American.”
“I think that sentiment cultivates an environment of bad faith and counter-productivity,” Adam Schwartzman, The Review’s current editor-in-chief, said in an email to The Dartmouth.
Schwartzman, who has yet to see the film, said that referring to the president as un-American is “supremely off-putting.”
Cole, who said he watched the documentary to gain another perspective, thought some people would not see the film to avoid supporting the extremely conservative argument.
“At best, it gets people thinking about something new, but when the film is so focused on something and avoids the real ways in which we can disagree, it doesn’t really lead to much political dialogue that’s useful,” he said.
Beard believes that many students will be drawn to the film in search of an explanation for the disappointing past three years.
“People are really trying to figure out whom they voted for,” Beard said.
Born in India, D’Souza, who joined The Review after its 1980 founding and previously worked for The Dartmouth, brought a unique voice to the paper, according to Beard.
“I think having someone on staff that could give a view from the outside could help with the force of the arguments,” Beard said.
The Rockefeller Center and PoliTALK most recently hosted D’Souza last spring when he gave a presentation titled “The Moral Case for Free Markets.”
In “2016: Obama’s America,” D’Souza mentioned the College and The Review by name.
“It speaks to the strength of the paper,” Beard said. “It’s certainly a different kind of brotherhood than I think a lot of groups on campus have.”
The Review was originally founded to offer a diversity of opinion, combat the increasing dominance of an excessively politically correct and liberal mindset, advocate for the preservation of the College’s liberal arts education and to question stale academic orthodoxy, according to Schwartzman.
Beard said that D’Souza is one of many notably alumni to emerge from The Review. Other prominent Review alumni include conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham ’85 and Wall Street Journal columnist Joseph Rago ’05.
In D’Souza’s time as a writer for The Review, the paper came under fire for its controversial stances on such topics as affirmative action and LGBT issues.
After his time at the College, he served as an editor of The Prospect, a conservative monthly magazine, which he later left to become an advisor in Ronald Reagan’s White House.
“It’s no secret in conservative circles that people who come out of The Dartmouth Review go places,” Beard said.