Sunday, May 27, 2012

Retroactionary Watch: Empire

The colonialist faction of the conservative movement—the what?—Well, Dinesh D'Souza and crypto-Belgian wannabe terrorist Newt Gingrich charge Barack Obama with being an "anti-colonialist" as if that were a particularly bad thing, so I guess their own stance must be pro-colonialist. Anyway they're back in the news, as D'Souza's 2010 Regnery best-seller The Roots of Obama's Rage gets filmed, in a production by Gerald Molen and with some financing from Joe Ricketts (the one who runs one campaign to cut wasteful government spending and another to raise $200 million in state-backed bonds for renovations to his family's own Wrigley Field, at the same time), for release this summer. Go ahead and watch the trailer:

You wouldn't necessarily think, in the second decade of the 20th century, that colonialism was going to be a very high-stakes issue. Colonialism where? Nobody ever refers to the occupied West Bank as a colony because HOLOCAUST! IRAN! SHUT UP! so are we talking about American Samoa? Gibraltar? the Galápagos? Alberta? That's what made it funny in the first place, like Ron Paul's fixation on the gold standard—Republicans earnestly worrying about the concepts of Captain Mahan and Colonel Roosevelt, as if they were still waxing their mustaches and knocking back oysters three dozen at a go.

What I wasn't thinking of was the mysterious ability of the Republican mind to conceptualize an inverse time, from future through present to past, in what I have called the retroactionary tendency. Republicans can imagine the Obama of 2016, proposing himself as a socialist dictator of the world, inveighing against colonialism, as the direct cause of the independence of Kenya in 1963. Worse yet, that independence, continuing backwards, leads inexorably to the horrors of the Mau Mau insurgency of 1952-59, etc., etc.

By the same token, they themselves are the optimists, looking forward to the conquest of the Philippines and Hawaii! It's morning in America, if the sun rises in the west!

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