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Please, Dinesh, analyze me!

By Joel Dreyfuss

Ever since I read his piece in Forbes, I keep thinking: I can't wait for Dinesh D'Souza to turn his eagle eye on me. After concluding that President Obama's Kenyan father magically transmitted his African socialist ideals to the son he barely knew, I can just imagine the field day D'Souza, the conservative writer and president of a Christian evangelical college, would have parsing my ancestral influences. Of course, I'll never be president of the United States, because I wasn't born here.

In fact, I was born in Haiti, something certain readers of The Root -- the Web site I edit -- don't hesitate to point out whenever I dare make any commentary about life in the United States. One avid reader (and prolific commentator) flatly declared I couldn't possibly know anything about America because I wasn't born here. The fact that I've spent three-fourths of my life -- and 35 years as a journalist -- working and living in the U.S. carries absolutely no weight with him.

I'm guessing my critic subscribes to D'Souza's theory of political views shaped by genetic transmission. Considering my typically-Caribbean multi-ethnic and multiracial origins, D'Souza would have several rich veins of ancestry to explore in explaining my world view. Both my parents were born in Haiti, and both traced their ancestry in Haiti back into the 1700s. Our family background includes Africans, Spaniards, Italians, French Jews and Catholics, Germans and possibly some Native Americans (Arawaks). This rich stew of ancestors includes slaves, slave-owners, conquistadors, plantation owners, laborers, revolutionaries, farmers, musicians, soldiers, politicians and academics.

If D'Souza were to focus on my dad (as he did Obama's), he would probably have much to say. Unlike the president, I knew my father for nearly 45 years. He was the son of a French Jewish merchant and a Haitian Creole. D'Souza would probably attribute my affinity for the underdog to my father's Jewish ancestry. After all, my Jewish grandfather left France because the name Dreyfuss (even with the extra "s") was not a good one to have in the 1890s when a certain Captain Dreyfus was being wrongly and repeatedly convicted of treason.

Of course, if D'Souza happened to be scrutinizing my background because he didn't like me, he might suggest that I have socialist tendencies, because France, well, is France.

It probably wouldn't matter if I pointed out that France until relatively recently had higher income inequality than the U.S. Since I was born in Haiti, I'm sure my black mother's DNA would get me lumped in with the president for having anti-colonial tendencies as well. After all, one of my mother's ancestors was a commander in Haiti's revolution -- which, by defeating Napoleon's troops and declaring all former slaves free -- became the epitome of anti-colonialism.

I don’t remember ever having a discussion about colonialism with my mom, but that shouldn't stop D'Souza, who has no proof that Obama, who was 10 when he last saw his father, ever had a deep discussion about colonialism with his dad. But D'Souza, whose name suggests some connection to the Portuguese who colonized Goa on the west coast of India, has a remarkable ability to reconstruct the transmission of knowledge and ideals from one generation to the next, even when the two generations barely knew each other. As I said, since I missed all those ancestral conversations, I'm hoping D'Souza will pick me for his next séance -- I mean article -- in Forbes.

I suppose I'll have to win higher office -- and then threaten to change the status quo -- to earn D'Souza's attention. I'd like to know what the influences on my personal values are, and apparently D'Souza has an uncanny ability to tell you what you don't know about yourself -- so I'm hoping he will bring his laser-like analytical tools to dissect my life. Do it, Dinesh, please.

By Joel Dreyfuss  | September 21, 2010; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  Dreyfuss  | Tags:  Joel Dreyfuss  
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Mr. Dreyfuss seems to have missed one glaring point -- he did not write a autobiography titled "Dreams from My Father". Disagree with Dinesh if you must, but this half-witted attempt to minimize D'Souza's article is an embarrassment to the Post and clearly an attack on his rival (since he is an editor at Fortune) Forbes.

Posted by: brianwoodward2007 | September 21, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Dinesh D'Souza is a simpering, pseudo-intellectual ass. Frankly, I'm surprised he doesn't have a job writing for the Post's Op-Ed page.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | September 21, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Well written Mr. Dreyfuss. In fact people like D'Souza should know a thing or two about colonialists since their ancestors did colonize Goa, India. Goans of this day and age call themselves anglo-indians! I have met quite of few of them in Canada, they don't say they are indians, they are anglo-indians!
It's amazing to read/listen to the amount of craziness that's being spewed by the conservatives, including media/print/so-called tea party members, who suddenly just realized that there are too much spending in Washington these days! How come no such movement came about during the Bush Administration? Can someone please explain that? Suddenly they want to reclaim the country, the American that is theirs!! Because Obama, a black man was elected president? Obama - an alien, a muslim, according to the conservatives & empty-headed extremist racists that are in the news every minute, every hour of the day, on FOX, at every Tea Party rallies, at the so-called "Reclaim our Civil Rights" get-together of Glen Beck & Palin? GOP and their followers, including the Palin/Beck & all the white middle aged racists who hate Obama will of course never ever accept that it was George Bush who drove the country into the abysmal state that it is now, after taking it into 2 wars, giving huge tax breaks to his corporate buddies & other rich millionaire friends. But how about the regular american? How can they be so stupid to be caught into the net of lies & all the propagations and rhetoric of these people.

Posted by: sunnyd12 | September 21, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you all three.
Dinesh is lost. He does not have anyone who can offer a suitable job.
He thinks he is smarter than others because he came to USA at young age with help of someone.
Look at his origin. He is mixed race too.

Posted by: bbps | September 22, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate all the comments, even when I don't agree with them, but I wanted to correct one fact for brianwoodward2007; I don;t work for Fortune and have not since 2000. I am the managing editor of The Root (

Posted by: joeldreyfuss | September 22, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Funny. I should write a book. It is interesting that a person like D'Souza can make up garbage like whole cloth and supposedly enlightened people like Newt Gingrich can take it so seriously, as if it has any merit at all.

So if this silliness can be taken seriously, along with a teenage witch, I should be able to make, er, write something up about, lets say, Newt Gingrich.

Yeah! Thats it, something like he was mistreated by his stepdad after his teenage mom remarried...thus making his personality whacked. Good start, don't you think?

Posted by: sandnsmith | September 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

brianwoodward2007: Don't know if you've read "Dreams From My Father", but I have. There is absolutely nothing in the book to back up D'Souza's nonsensical musings.

Posted by: bienefes | September 22, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Great post, Meyerson! Loved it.

D'Souza's "remarkable ability to reconstruct the transmission of knowledge and ideals from one generation to the next, even when the two generations barely knew each other" is so laughable.

This strange guy, D'Souza, has revealed through this "séance" that Forbes is now merely a joke, not a serious publication.

Posted by: baileywickFL | September 22, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

D'Souza is simply part of the plague that is the modern conservative movement.

They feel anger and hate in their guts and have to let it out, regardless of the facts.

It would be laughable if they weren't so obviously aiding to the demise of this once great country by offering no answers, only hate and fear and the most partisan congressmen (as a voting bloc) that we have ever seen in our nation's history.

Our nation would be so much better off if they just drove themselves over a cliff.

Posted by: Shardanacles | September 22, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Obamas anti-colonial view? Denish D'souza should know better, he was born in India, I thought that Indians are supposed to have anti-colonial view since they fought and gained their independence from United Kingdom, his analysis and chanelling of Obamas fathers nationality is the only thing that matters to him, Obamas European ancestry does not count.

Posted by: viokand | September 23, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

What a liberal rag.

Posted by: bal503 | September 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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