Obama Parsed @ MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A trio of academics at the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) annual convention took obligatory swipes at conservative critics of the president in a panel on his best-selling memoir, Dreams from My Father. Oddly enough, though, they confirmed the essential facts behind much of the naysayers’ criticisms of that volume.

“If you had googled Frank Marshall Davis ten years ago, you would have found next to nothing,” John T. Lowney said of the president’s controversial mentor. “If you Googled him now, you would find everything that is evil about Frank Marshall Davis.”

“He’s one of the few writers who’s been recovered through his FBI files.” Lowney teaches at St. John’s University.

Davis had a “commitment to socialism,” Lowney told the audience at the MLA’s Chicago confab. “He moved to Hawaii to escape the anti-communist harassment he was experiencing in Chicago,” Lowney said,  adding that he “wrote for the Associated Negro Press and Chicago Defender and joined popular fronts [for the Communist Party] which aligned themselves with the Civil Rights movement.”

Contra Barack Obama’s depiction of the writer and poet as an octogenarian has-been, Davis was actually in his sixties when he met the future president and experiencing something of a career resurgence. “In 1973, he gave a reading tour of his poetry, his first trip back to the Mainland since he arrived in Hawaii [shortly after World War II],” Lowney claimed.

“Davis certainly did reinvent himself in the Black Power movement of the 1960s,” Lowney said.

“I’m not concerned with the factual accuracy of Obama’s account,” Stephanie Li of the University of Rochester said. “He admits to creating composites.”

Rather, she was struck by Obama’s starkly dysfunctional family: “A father known primarily through others, a mother’s family known primarily for its rootlessness.”

Moreover, she avers that the “stories about the father stretch credibility,” and notes Obama’s own claimed “preference for the imaginary over the real manifests itself in his account of his one meeting with his father.” Obama preferred “the myth over the man, the fiction over the truth.”

“I decided I liked his more distant image, an image I could alter on a whim,” Obama himself wrote.

“It is this part of Obama’s autobiography that has fueled the right,” David Borman, a graduate student at the University of Miami, said. The right-winger Borman specifically attacked was Dinesh D’Souza, the noted author.  D’Souza claims that President Obama is motivated by “anti-colonialism.” Borman calls this “anti-colonialism by osmosis.”

“In the actual text [of Dreams from My Father], the Kenya trip [which Obama took} shows none of this.”

As it happens, this analysis is not that far removed from a reaction to the documentary that Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid put forth in 2012, “The new conservative film, ‘Obama’s America: 2016,’ offers a lot of good information but muddies the waters as Americans, during this critical election year, look outside the major media for information about their President.”

“Instead of educating people about the communist influence over Barack Obama, an unprecedented and shocking development for an American president, filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza claims that ‘anti-colonialism,’ a philosophy exploited by communists, is behind his beliefs and policies.”