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A World Without Dinesh D’Souza (Wouldn’t Really Be Any Different)

No Dinesh D'Souza(Ethan Corey)– Someone suggested that in writing about Dinesh D’Souza, I should not “presuppose D’Souza’s villain status.” I’m going to ignore that advice.

Dinesh D’Souza is a virulently racist homophobe who peddles insane conspiracy theories lacking any basis in reality, such as the assertion that President Obama is purposefully running up the sovereign debt of the United States in order to promote the global redistribution of wealth (apparently because he has daddy issues or something).

He’s compared gay marriage to autocracy. His mistress (apparently the “sanctity of marriage” isn’t so important to him after all) has publicly argued against women’s suffrage and suggested that Republican men should prevent their wives from voting for pro-choice candidates. While editor of The Dartmouth Review, he wiretapped a meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance to find out if they were using school funding for “gay parties, gay orgies, or whatever” and published the names and sexual orientations of its leaders, leading at least one student to attempt suicide.

In case you still have doubts about his “villain status,” you can check out his video “Why Obama Wants to Destroy America,” in which he accuses President Obama of intentionally undermining American allies and supporting its enemies in the Middle-East. Why? Because he wants to uphold his (Muslim—gasp) father’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Or so D’Souza says, without any evidence whatsoever.

Or this video, in which he claims that America practices “rational racism” and argues for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also has claimed that slavery was not racist and rejected the premise that racism is “irrational.” I’m not pulling facts out of thin air when I call this man a racist; he more or less admits his racism himself.

Yet I’m also going to take some issue with the students who protested D’Souza’s talk this past Tuesday. Not because I think they’re wrong—I agree completely with their assessment of D’Souza—but because I don’t think they went far enough. The fact is, although D’Souza may be a virulently racist homophobic nut, his ideas are solidly part of the ideological mainstream of American politics; if one wants to condemn D’Souza for his beliefs, one must also condemn with equal fervor everyone else who holds those beliefs. That includes, however, the overwhelming majority of American politicians, including the president himself.

Now wait a second, you say, President Obama doesn’t think he’s intentionally trying to destroy America because he has daddy issues, and he’s not a homophobe—D’Souza is a fringe conspiracy theorist; you can’t tar Obama with his beliefs. That’s only partially true. Although President Obama may be more level-headed rhetorically (call it “politically correct” if you’d prefer), his disagreement with D’Souza is a lot smaller than one might think.

Take for example D’Souza arguments about black culture. In his controversial book, The End of Racism, D’Souza argues that the main problem facing African Americans today is not racism, but their own culture. He writes:

While whites have tended to view government as the enemy of rights, historically, blacks have found the federal government to be an ally and a friend. The federal government ended slavery. The federal government ended segregation. In this century, the federal government was an employer of last resort for many blacks. So it’s understandable that blacks would look to the federal government as, as a helper in a positive light. I’m just saying that that cultural orientation, which made sense for a long time, is today a liability.

Elsewhere he blames African Americans for the breakdown of the inner city, the crack epidemic, violent crime rates, and pretty much every other problem affecting the African American community.  People have taken issue with this argument for good reason: it ignores the many structural forms of racism that systematically disadvantage people of color and essentially blames the victim. Yet President Obama has made nearly an identical argument, as Ta-Nehisi Coates recently pointed out in The Atlantic:

The idea that poor people living in the inner city, and particularly black men, are ‘not holding up their end of the deal’ as Cosby put it, is not terribly original or even, these days, right-wing. From the president on down there is an accepted belief in America—black and white—that African-American people, and African-American men, in particular, are lacking in the virtues in family, hard work, and citizenship.

Coates goes on to quote a speech in which President Obama blames “Cousin Pookie” and “Uncle Jethro” for watching too much SportsCenter and not voting as an explanation for why American politics systematically ignores the needs of African Americans. In a separate article Coates collects other instances of President Obama ascribing the cause of black problems to black culture such as the following from 2008:

That’s why if we’re serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example.

That’s not to say there aren’t any salient differences between their views on race. For one, President Obama at least admits that racism is a relevant issue. But that doesn’t make his claims about black culture any less wrong or implicitly racist. As Coates points out:

But is the culture of West Baltimore actually less virtuous than the culture of Wall Street? I’ve seen no such evidence. Yet that is the implicit message accepted by Paul Ryan, and the message is bipartisan. That is because it is a message that makes all our uncomfortable truths tolerable. Only if black people are somehow undeserving can a just society tolerate a yawning wealth gap, a two-tiered job market, and persistent housing discrimination.

Blaming racial inequality on black culture is like blaming sexual assault on the victim’s clothing; even if it plays a role in the outcome, it obscures the fact that the primary cause is systemic injustice. Both President Obama and D’Souza are saying that black culture is not good enough for American society, when the reality is that it was American society that decided black culture was not good enough.

Or look at D’Souza’s arguments about colonialism and American hegemony. In his article “Two cheers for colonialism,” D’Souza argues that “the primary cause of Western affluence and power is internal” and that “it is simply wrong to maintain that the rest of the world is poor because the West is rich, or that the West grew rich off ‘stolen goods’ from Asia, Africa and Latin America.” For D’Souza, it was the triple invention of science, capitalism, and democracy by the West that explains its dominance over the world; violent conquest, genocide, and industrial-scale slavery apparently had nothing to do with it.

The thing is President Obama said pretty much the same thing this past March:

And it was here in Europe […] that a particular set of ideals began to emerge: The belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose. The belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding. And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men — and women — are created equal. […] we believe in democracy — with elections that are free and fair; and independent judiciaries and opposition parties; civil society and uncensored information so that individuals can make their own choices. Yes, we believe in open economies based on free markets and innovation, and individual initiative and entrepreneurship, and trade and investment that creates a broader prosperity.

Again, their views are not exactly identical: D’Souza puts more emphasis on the innate superiority of Western culture, while President Obama is more willing to admit to the West’s past wrongs, but they still share the belief that Western dominance has been a net positive for the world; in other words, they are both colonialists; they both uncritically laud the superiority of a culture responsible for the deaths of millions and the subjugation and immiseration of billions more.

Finally, compare their positions on LGBTQ rights. D’Souza notoriously blamed the attacks of September 11th on gays and the cultural left, saying, “What disgusts [Muslims] is not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing one another and taking marriage vows.”

And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, D’Souza has also compared the legalization of same-sex marriage to dictatorship:

It is the essence of democracy that people should be able to decide the moral rules that govern the nature of a community. If people don’t have that power, then they are living under an autocracy. […] Now the high court of California has made gay marriage into a right that is immune from restriction by the majority of citizens in the state. We already know what California citizens think about gay marriage: they oppose it. […] So in the California high court decision, we see liberal jurisprudence subverting the legislature and the will of the people in order to achieve its ideological agenda.

President Obama, of course, has never made arguments like this. His language with respect to LGBTQ rights has always been inclusive and respectful, and he counts on LGBTQ support as part of his political base.

Nevertheless, the practical implications of his views are virtually identical. Even though President Obama has now “evolved” on the issue of gay marriage and publicly supports the right of individuals to marry regardless of gender, he says this is a purely personal view and continues to claim that states have the right to define marriage as they please. In other words, although President Obama sympathizes with gay couples who wish to marry, he feels little need to take any concrete action to support them.

This is, in fact, completely in accordance with D’Souza’s position. In the same article I quoted above, he wrote:

This is not about whether you think gays should be allowed to marry. If you think they should, go ahead and vote for candidates who support gay marriage. But you should still oppose the manufacture of bogus rights in order to reach a result that democracy would not by itself allow. […] I know that there are gays who desperately want gay marriage, and in a way I’m happy for them. But at the same time I’m sad for constitutional democracy, which suffered a grievous blow at the hands of the California high court.

Both D’Souza and President Obama, independently of their personal views on same-sex marriage, believe that states have the right to define marriage as they please, which, in practice, translates to the tacit support of the systematic denial of equal rights to LGBTQ individuals.

Perhaps you agree with President Obama (and D’Souza) on these issues. I’m not going to try to convince you that racism, colonialism, or homophobia are repugnant ideologies, because I hope that’s a given. My point here is simply to argue that one cannot simply oppose racism, colonialism, or homophobia when someone like D’Souza expresses them explicitly; one must also oppose racism, colonialism, and homophobia when they are dressed up in the triumphal liberal rhetoric of mainstream politicians like President Obama.

About Ethan Corey

Ethan Corey is a senior at Amherst College. Find him on Twitter at @ethanscorey or share your thoughts in the comments.

17 comments on “A World Without Dinesh D’Souza (Wouldn’t Really Be Any Different)

  1. Sharline Dominguez
    May 3, 2014

    Hmmm.. great article, but I was actually expecting you to speak a little more about why (italicized) the Republican group at Amherst would invite someone like this man. Therefore, I was hoping you would touch a little more on his right to exercise free speech, but then again, I couldn’t attend this event like you did that night, so there is probably more to this whole scenario than I know. Great and well- researched (as always) article anyway!

    • Ethan Corey
      May 4, 2014

      I wrote about a similar topic last year in this article, but I guess the short response would be that while free debate and open exchange are good things, we shouldn’t be spending $7,000 on a dude who is just going to spout anti-intellectual hate speech for a couple hours. As for why the College Republicans would invite him, I would guess it’s because they more or less agree with him, which carries its own set of problems.

  2. Anonymous
    May 3, 2014

    I am in complete agreement with your article and I think that what you pointed out is very important and should not be ignored. Yes, Dinesh D’Souza is just one person representing ideologies that are much more pervasive and mainstream than the protest accounted for. However, he is one person who was given money by our own association of students and a forum on our own campus to perpetuate these same villainous ideals to our student body and community. While I agree that the world may not be much different without him, if we don’t at least acknowledge that our campus can be different without D’Souza and his repugnant stance on numerous issues, then what are we doing? I am certainly not arguing that we should ignore the rest of the world and only focus on this campus, but bringing D’Souza here to this campus ultimately only made his voice louder and his personal wealth and resources greater (need I point out that our AAS gave him more money for this one night than many of the poor, hard-working people he calls “lazy” are able to make in one year?) D’Souza’s presence on this campus did not help to work against racism, colonialism, or homophobia on this campus or elsewhere in the world, and I think that should be acknowledged.

    • Ethan Corey
      May 4, 2014

      No disagreement here. I kind of wish the AAS had the courage to deny him funding, but at least him coming here gave me an excuse to write this article ;).

  3. Siraj Ahmed Sindhu
    May 3, 2014

    But you didn’t ignore my advice! The second, third and fourth paragraphs basically explain why D’Souza IS terrible (a “villain”)…

    But really, great article, Ethan. This is a really excellent and thorough assessment and I completely agree with you. Nicely done.

    • Ethan Corey
      May 4, 2014

      Thanks Siraj! And I guess you’re right about taking your advice; I just couldn’t help myself from using it as a hook.

  4. Sam
    May 4, 2014

    I very much enjoy the article, Ethan. The fact that mainstream American liberals and even the utmost conservatives are operating in the same ideological ballpark is frequently forgotten by most.

    It was very amusing to watch D’Souza, through his vitriolic attacks and ad hominen condemnations, assume that all of us are Obama-supporting liberals. Most of protestors (me being one) would be critical of Obama, though probably not to the same degree as we would of D’Souza. That is to say that most of us, I believe, would identify well to the left of Obama and would actively criticize Obama for being colonialist, etc.

    While I would love for more prominent leftist activism on campus – activism that would both criticize the mainstream liberals we bring to campus in addition to the reactionary conservatives – we wanted to use this event as an example of the sheer absurdity and anti-intellectualism which D’Souza expresses. In the future, if a leftist organization is established, such criticisms of colonalism, racism, and homophobia will become more widespread.

    • Ethan Corey
      May 4, 2014

      “…if a leftist organization is established”

      Why speak hypothetically? It sounds like you guys already have a pretty strong core of people with those beliefs, so why not make it actual?

  5. Sam
    May 4, 2014

    There’s been a lot of discussion and I would love to start it. Except, I, and many people who are interested, are going to be abroad in the fall semester. That being said, there are some interested parties who will not be abroad and they may well get it started in the fall.

  6. Anonymous
    May 7, 2014

    This article is a good example that illustrates what ACVOICE represents, when it is not arguing about issues like the size of bathrooms: a far leftist blog which constantly talks about how leftists shouldn’t be given EVEN MORE space to enforce their views on what is “acceptable” or “intellectual”.

    • Ethan Corey
      May 7, 2014

      What’s wrong with being a far leftist?

      • Anonymous
        May 7, 2014

        Nothing, just as there’s nothing wrong being a far rightist, I suppose.

    • Anonymous
      May 8, 2014

      One does not have to be of “the far left” to take issue with D’Souza.

  7. Pingback: Dinesh D’Souza’s Life After Death | Sharp and Pointed

  8. Kantanya
    August 19, 2014

    Since when did differing views become racism and bigotry? THIS is the problem with the far left, instead of just saying this is how you feel, which would be valid because everyone is entitled to their feelings and to voice their thoughts, YOU try to DEMONIZE others factual views and find fault where there is none. Clearly you are not stupid so I have to assume you are manipulative… telling the truth is now a crime right? You are the kind of person who would see a black man walk up, shoot another man, then walk away and when the police ask what he looked like you wouldn’t tell them because that would be racist right…never mind the truth… Clearly D’Souza has no problem with gay marriage because he clearly states that verbatim, he has an issue with HOW it’s being legalized, at no point did he give a typical religious bs anti-gay speech… he CLEARLY TOOK ISSUES WITH FEDERAL GOV OVERSTEPPING BOUNDRIES… that makes him a bigot? Yeah I can see how that’s the same as the people who hang around gay bars to bash/ beat people up, good call… and he might be racist but its certainly not evident in ANTHING you presented…. It is a liability when people view the government as their savior, which is funny because you just said the American government committed violent conquest, genocide, and industrial-scale slavery… so you want them to be bigger with more power, yeah no that makes sense?!?!…. at any rate you are completely right, until the formation of America 238 years ago conquest, slavery, and genocide didn’t’ even exist… oh wait… all of those things are happening NOW in 75% of the world’s countries all of which are GENERATIONS older than us, they don’t even support human rights… I thought liberals were supposed to give a crap about that, no?… In about a 200 year span we have abolished slavery, given women equal rights, and had more advances in science and medicine than any other country on earth… even more than Japan who literally has thousands of years on us… but that doesn’t bring us wealth huh? In fact, D’Souza did a whole section on how much slavery destroys economies which is why when it was abolished here we flourish but places like the Middle East who still have it still struggle….again another civilization who has thousands of years on us and they invented the slave trade…. but yeah no I can see where WE would be the bad guys…. LOL… and on a last note I want you to talk to one of your liberal physiologist friends, ask them if people are victims do they do better living in a world of victim mentality or if they do better when they pick themselves up and say “guess what, shit happens, today I take my life back”…. Everyone who has ever gone through anything will tell you they got their life back the day they stopped being a victim… so I present to you by continuing to victimize the a whole culture and referring to them as victims and people who are not on equal ground and therefore need your help you are purposely keeping them subservient to you…. your world must be very pretty inside that bubble … also look up Madame CJ Walker and then tell me again how I am a victim because I am a black women… pft

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