What’s Up with Dinesh D’Souza?  Pt. 1

Picturephoto credit: Wikipedia

Let me be clear here:  I have no personal beef with Mr. D’Souza.  I’ve read at least one of his early books, What’s So Great About God? and watched him debate the evidence for God’s existence with the late atheist Christopher Hitchens.  Of the three debates I’ve watched between Hitchens and a prominent Christian (the other two were Douglas Wilson and Mark Lane), D’Souza did by far the best job of meeting Hitchens’ arguments head-on.  He was also funny and charming. His story of coming to America from India as a high-school exchange student and ending up at Dartmouth is a classic immigration success narrative.  After his graduation he became a voice of intellectual conservatism, serving as a policy adviser to President Reagan and working for a number of right-leaning organizations.  He was thoughtful and insightful, a true asset to the political right, or at least he seemed to be so.  As I’ve delved into his story more deeply in order to write this post I’ve begun to wonder if my initial view of D’Souza as someone who went off the rails around 2010 is really true.  It may be that he was never on them to begin with.  

My point is not to attack D’Souza but to look at the larger lessons that can be gained from an examination of his career.  I don’t claim any special insight into his thought processes, but his public statements can be parsed quite easily.  And my overall reason for writing about him is that he’s still a very influential voice in American politics.  I doubt that anyone is unaware of his most recent film, ​Hillary’s America.

But we’ll get to an analysis of that oeuvre in a later post.  For now I want to take a look at the overall arc of his career as shown in his books, movies and personal life.  There’s puh-lenty of material on this subject out there, much of it written by conservatives and/or Christians.  I have no desire or time to re-hash everything, but if what I write here spurs your curiosity I would encourage you to read further.  One of the biggest weaknesses of the political and religious right that I see is that we (again, as I’ve said before, note the “we”) tend to be willing to endorse anybody who slaps on the label we want to see.  (I’ll quote II Timothy 4:3 here from The Message translation:   You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.”)  

D’Souza’s first successful book was published in 1991:  An Illiberal Education:  The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus.  In it he made the point that so-called “political correctness” was strangling free speech on American college campuses.  While there was much praise for the book from conservative critics, there were also protests from professors and academic associations who said that their work and words had been maliciously distorted.  I’m planning to read this book and have put it on hold at the library.  

From there D’Souza went on from strength to strength, writing best-selling books and working for conservative think tanks.  (I’ve never, ever understood what a “think tank” is, or who pays the salaries of those who work for them, but never mind.)  He was married in 1992 to Dixie Brubaker, and the couple had one daughter. His books became more and more controversial, with the alarm bells starting to become audible to a larger audience in 2007 with the publication of The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.  Now see if you can follow this argument (admittedly gained from my reading of reviews and summaries):  Because traditional Muslim society is based on modesty and reverence for the family, the liberal West with its racy movies, music and literature, its disrespect for the family, indeed its rejection of all conservative values, fueled the rage that led to the 9/11 attacks.  So the real blame for the hijacking of the four planes and the loss of thousands of lives lies, not at the feet of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda but of . . . Americans, but just those nasty liberal ones.  I guess I’d better plan to read this book too (sigh) to see if D’Souza actually says what the reviews say that he said.  If the reports are accurate about his words (and I can barely believe some of the quotes I read) then he is betraying a fundamental lack of knowledge about the roots of radical Islam.  Sure, many devout Muslims are disturbed by what they see in Western culture.  So am I.  Does that make me a potential terrorist?

Well, time has marched on here, and I haven’t even gotten to The Roots of Obama’s Rage or D’Souza’s moral missteps.  The Hillary movie is getting its own post later on this week.  (Yes, I actually paid for a ticket to see it at a theater this past Saturday.  I’m kind of ashamed of myself, but now I can write about it with some authority.)  So I’m going to quit for now. See you tomorrow!

Share with friendsShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone