Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have received an e-mail from offering me, with purchase of a subscription to Townhall Magazine, a free copy of the new Dinesh D'Souza book The Roots of Obama's Rage.  The e-mail tells us, "In this mind-blowing book D'Souza explains why Obama's economic policies are designed to intentionally make America poorer, why he welcomes a nuclear Iran, why he sees the United States as a rogue nation, and much more."  The e-mail features a blurb describing the book as "profound" from the morally decayed Newt Gingrich, whose personality appears to have been completely taken over by his Mr. Hyde side.

In short, the usual right-wing crackpot stuff. But what is most striking about this book is its title. Rage? True, it's an obvious ripoff from an article by Bernard Lewis in The Atlantic some years ago entitled "The Roots of Muslim Rage." But one can see angry Muslims on TV on a regular basis. Has anyone ever seen a really angry Obama? No-drama Obama? Can you imagine him burning a flag? Or throwing rocks? No, too weird.

So why rage? Here's a quotation from Wikipedia:

In Freudian psychology, Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies their own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings.[1]
Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

It's not Obama's rage against America that needs explaining; it's the right's rage against Obama. I don't know what the roots of right-wing rage are. But there's no doubt that it's there, and has been since before Inauguration Day. It's not anger, it's apoplectic rage, and it predates anything Obama did in office.

Perhaps D'Souza should have actually read Lewis's article, instead of name-dropping it, for it is relevant not to Obama's fictional rage against America but to the right's real rage against Obama. In Lewis's view, Islamic rage against America has less to do with America's actions than with America as the symbolic leader of a way of life that threatens to change everything, i.e.,  modernity. Just so, the rage against Obama probably has less to do with his actions than with Obama as symbol of a (relative) loss of power by groups that had gotten used to being in power.

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