Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More D’Souza Blather

Poor Dinesh D’Souza has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post whining about his horrible mistreatment by reviewers of his new book that blames terrorism on the fact that people in the West actually dare to exercise their liberty in ways the nuts don’t like. Funny, that’s exactly what Bin Laden says. He begins by striking the standard persecution pose so popular among wealthy and powerful conservative leaders

The reaction I’m eliciting is not entirely new to me. As a college student in the early 1980s, I edited the politically incorrect Dartmouth Review and was frequently accosted by left-wing students and faculty.

I’m sure it must be horrible making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from a conservative thinktank and still have to suffer the disagreement of others. If only those big liberal meanies would stop criticizing you for saying stupid things, you could live your life in peace. He lists the horrible things people have said:

“Ratfink writes new book,” James Wolcott, cultural critic for Vanity Fair, declares in his blog. He goes on to call my book a “sleazy, shameless, ignorant, ahistorical, tendentious, meretricious lie.”

In the pages of Esquire, Mark Warren charges that I “hate America” and have “taken to heart” Osama bin Laden’s view of the United States. (Warren also challenged me to a fight and threatened to put me in the hospital.) In his New York Times review of my book last week, Alan Wolfe calls my work “a national disgrace . . . either self-delusional or dishonest.” I am “a childish thinker” with “no sense of shame,” he argues. “D’Souza writes like a lover spurned; despite all his efforts to reach out to Bin Laden, the man insists on joining forces with the Satanists.”

It goes on. The Washington Post’s Warren Bass writes that I think Jerry Falwell was “on to something” when he blamed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on pagans, gays and the ACLU. Slate’s Timothy Noah diagnoses me with “Mullah envy,” while the Nation’s Katha Pollitt calls me a “surrender monkey” and the headline to her article brands me “Ayatollah D’Souza.” And in my recent appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” I had to fend off the insistent host. “But you agree with the Islamic radicals, don’t you?” Stephen Colbert asked again and again.

And Colbert was right. And every criticism above is accurate and justified. He then tries to strike the moderate pose by saying he disagrees with both liberals and conservatives in their explanations for why Bin Laden does what he does:

Contrary to the common liberal view, I don’t believe that the 9/11 attacks were payback for U.S. foreign policy. Bin Laden isn’t upset because there are U.S. troops in Mecca, as liberals are fond of saying. (There are no U.S. troops in Mecca.) He isn’t upset because Washington is allied with despotic regimes in the region. Israel aside, what other regimes are there in the Middle East? It isn’t all about Israel. (Why hasn’t al-Qaeda launched a single attack against Israel?) The thrust of the radical Muslim critique of America is that Islam is under attack from the global forces of atheism and immorality — and that the United States is leading that attack.

Contrary to President Bush’s view, they don’t hate us for our freedom, either. Rather, they hate us for how we use our freedom. When Planned Parenthood International opens clinics in non-Western countries and dispenses contraceptives to unmarried girls, many see it as an assault on prevailing religious and traditional values. When human rights groups use their interpretation of international law to pressure non-Western countries to overturn laws against abortion or to liberalize laws regarding homosexuality, the traditional sensibilities of many of the world’s people are violated.

Awww, isn’t that horrible? By telling Bin Laden and his fellow hateful whackos that they don’t have the right to stone gay people to death, we offend their “traditional sensibilities.” The solution, according to D’Souza, is to stop telling them not to stone gay people to death. At the risk of violating D’Souza’s traditional sensibilities, this is a pretty good reason to tell him to fuck off. And a good reason to say that, in fact, he does agree with the Muslim extremists. This is right wing appeasement, plain and simple.

Comments

  1. #1 scott
    January 30, 2007

    He isn’t upset because Washington is allied with despotic regimes in the region. Israel aside, what other regimes are there in the Middle East?

    He really needs to buy a map of the world. Better yet, a globe.

  2. #2 Matthew
    January 30, 2007

    I want to know how the United freaking States is leading the attack of the “global forces of atheism”. People in this country can’t even buy that the world is older than a few thousand years, for crying out loud. If terrorists just wanted to kill atheists and liberals, they’d bomb a place like Denmark, who actually have homosexual marriage, and have had it for a couple of decades.

  3. #3 Kevin
    January 30, 2007

    Man, between this guy and Sanjay Gupta, South Asians are getting some really bad representation in the national media.

  4. #4 Troublesome Frog
    January 30, 2007

    It’s amazing how many people can hold both the “liberals are pussies and won’t stand up to terrorists” and “if only the liberals would appease the terrorists and stop making them angry, I could get out from under my desk” positions simultaneously.

  5. #5 Davis
    January 30, 2007

    I didn’t really know who D’Souza was until I was mysteriously subscribed to the “tothesource” mailing list (I suspect I was added when I took a position at a Jesuit university). Though I find their articles repulsive, D’Souza’s demonstrate especially rampant idiocy. It’s embarrassing to me that anyone might find his trash compelling. However, their rating system for their articles indicates that some people apparently buy what he’s selling.

  6. #6 Steve Reuland
    January 30, 2007

    In the pages of Esquire, Mark Warren charges that I “hate America” and have “taken to heart” Osama bin Laden’s view of the United States. (Warren also challenged me to a fight and threatened to put me in the hospital.) In his New York Times review of my book last week, Alan Wolfe calls my work “a national disgrace . . . either self-delusional or dishonest.” I am “a childish thinker” with “no sense of shame,” he argues. “D’Souza writes like a lover spurned; despite all his efforts to reach out to Bin Laden, the man insists on joining forces with the Satanists.”

    Sounds like a good advertisement for those reviews. I’m going to have to check them out.

  7. #7 Saint Gasoline
    January 30, 2007

    I’m beginning to hate D’Souza even more than I hate Ann Coulter, which I didn’t even think was possible, given the fact that my current level of hatred for Ann Coulter is infinite.

  8. #8 Jake
    January 30, 2007

    Kevin,

    What’s wrong with Sanjay Gupta?
    Maybe you’re thinking of Deepak Chopra?

  9. #9 Kevin
    January 30, 2007

    Oops. That’s the guy. PZ had a long series where he linked to Chopra’s “review” of the God Delusion (a series of non-sensicle articles about Chopra’s religious views). It was such complete and utter garbage.

    My apologies to Gupta.

  10. #10 Fitz
    January 30, 2007

    Great Blog…

    You guys are geniuses..

    The most prevalent third world, first world critique is that western civilization is decadent.

    That’s the point he is making. It is open, obvious and well understood. It applies to all traditional societies and not just Islam. (south American, Polynesian, Indian ect)

    Its why Bin Laden resonates with such large sections of the third world when they talk of the “Great Satan”

    If I were to say, “American heavy handed foreign policy in the region contributes to alienation against the west and greater sympathy to terrorists” I would be correct.

    Dinesh D’Souza is correct in his critique. Astute observers have noted this growing social cleavage for decades before 9/11

    Hell, look at our cultural exports….what must they think of us????

  11. #11 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2007

    After seeing D’Souza on Colbert he came off like a C rate pundit and a grade A Wingnut. His arguments were just lame, poorly thought out drivel and Colbert makes him pay.

    Here’s a link to the video

  12. #12 Colugo
    January 30, 2007

    Some on the left blame our sins – namely, foreign policy – for why Islamic terrorists hate us. Some of the right also blame our sins – our alleged immorality.

    Question: Do radical Islamic terrorists attack us because of OUR sins – or THEIRS?

    (To name some of the sins of Islamic militants – NOT to be confused with all Muslims: theocracy, imperialism, death cultism, fanatical religious intolerance, genocide, slavery, exterminationist homophobia, Holocaust denial, antisemitism, racism.)

    What do the genocides in southern Sudan and Darfur, decapitations of Buddhists in southern Thailand, destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas, bombing of Shia mosques in Pakistan, attacks on Druze, Copts, Mandeans, church burnings in Indonesia, massacres of Christians in Lebanon, terror in India and Bali, and so on tell us about which answer to the above question is the correct one?

  13. #13 Dave
    January 30, 2007

    The right has adopted the victimage mantel on a regular basis. It may not be only the right, but they are pernicious in claiming 1)a right to assert an argument (by writing a book, making a claim, wearing a t-shirt…whatever) and then claim to be shocked…shocked I say…when there are oppositional responses to said argument. Over the holidays one fellow said: there are things you can’t say in this country because because if you do people will attack you for saying them. He just could not understand that this is the very function of civic democracy, if you make the claim, others can (and should) respond to it, especially when it is objectionable.

    best,

    Dave

  14. #14 John
    January 30, 2007

    “Dinesh D’Souza is correct in his critique”

    If that is true. I say, “So what”. To the terrorist who don’t like our sinful ways, I say, “tough shit”

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    January 30, 2007

    Colugo-

    Bingo, you hit the nail on the head. Their hatred of the US comes down to this: we represent the modern world in all of its facets. This is a clash between modernism and a medieval and barbaric theology.

  16. #16 Matthew
    January 30, 2007

    Colugo:

    I don’t understand what it is that you are saying. The question of “why do Islamic radicals attack the U.S.” might be a complicated one. But I don’t understand what it is that you are saying as the reason. Care to explain?

  17. #17 Colugo
    January 30, 2007

    Matthew: “I don’t understand what it is that you are saying.”

    Just like Fascists and Communists, radical Islamic terrorists rail against both our “decadence” and our foreign policy. However, the prime reason they are our enemy is because of their own ideological drive to subjugate and destroy others – as demonstrated by their past and ongoing crimes (including against those who even their apologists cannot construe as either “decadent” or “imperialist”). In the case of Islamic terrorists, even Muslims who do not adhere to their extremist vision are deserving of death. As the most powerful liberal democratic nation, the United States is both the main obstacle to their goals of regional and global domination and the embodiment of what they despise – including religious liberty and pluralism, secular law, and liberated women.

    Also, refer to the writings of Salman Rushdie, Sasha Ambramsky, Shadi Hamid, Ian Buruma, Jose-Ramos Horta, Asra Nomani, Kwame Anthony Appiah. (Note: I am not claiming that their views on these matters are identical to mine)

  18. #18 Matt Ray
    January 30, 2007

    What exactly would be left of America if we weren’t offensive to radical Islam? Might as well say, “The sooner we remodel ourselves as Iran, the better off we’ll be.” The same is true of America’s home grown fundamentalists. “The sooner America becomes Inquisition-era Spain, the more American we will be.” How can anyone reasonably assert abandoning the American way of life and American values will preserve the American way of life and American values? The logic of the very hard right is essentially the same as that of Muslim extremists. Sanitize the US of “untraditional” or “unorthodox” beliefs and all will be well.

  19. #19 Bob E.
    January 30, 2007

    “Dinesh D’Souza is correct in his critique” is basicly true *if* wwe restrict ourselves to that our vast liberties which include acceptance of gender equality and growing equality for sexual habits considered deviant by many religiously dominated cultures. Of course he rebels at being compared to OBL and his ilk. D’Souza wants to be the morally right guy and he can’t be that if he’s on the same side as OBL — but the truth is that difference if the world view of OBL and D’Souza is a matter of degrees and not type. ( The same is true of the PC mentality and speech codes the difference is whose moral standards are being codified into law upon the masses for their own good.)
    But it is important to know how much of this motivates OBL and his ilk, not to change us into something more acceptable to our enemies, but to understand the depths our enemy is willing to go to. If this is a major factor, then we can forget talking to our enemies. They can not compromise with us and we need to recognize that if only to know how to fight them. If it is a minor factor, then destruction is not the only path.
    We can not judge the proper course to take if we do not know our opponets. To know and to understand is NOT the same as to condone.

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    January 30, 2007

    Bob E wrote:

    But it is important to know how much of this motivates OBL and his ilk, not to change us into something more acceptable to our enemies, but to understand the depths our enemy is willing to go to. If this is a major factor, then we can forget talking to our enemies. They can not compromise with us and we need to recognize that if only to know how to fight them. If it is a minor factor, then destruction is not the only path. We can not judge the proper course to take if we do not know our opponets.

    Colugo, in my opinion, hit the nail precisely on the head in his comments above. No, there is no compromise with Bin Laden or with radical Islam; none is possible and none should be contemplated. Compromise with a totalitarian ideology – and that is exactly what it is – means giving up our the most basic notions of liberty and equality and that is something we cannot do. We may not always live up to those ideals ourselves, of course, but that hardly provides any room for compromise with people who think gays should be stoned to death, women who are raped should be whipped in the public square and music is evil.

  21. #21 doublesoup tuesday
    January 30, 2007

    What do the genocides in southern Sudan and Darfur, decapitations of Buddhists in southern Thailand, destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas, bombing of Shia mosques in Pakistan, attacks on Druze, Copts, Mandeans, church burnings in Indonesia, massacres of Christians in Lebanon, terror in India and Bali, and so on tell us about which answer to the above question is the correct one?

    Oooh! Oooh! Is it because they’re all brown? Is it?

  22. #22 Jeffrey Shallit
    January 30, 2007

    To give you some idea what Dinesh D’Souza is like as a person:

    When I was at Dartmouth, D’Souza and his buddies at the Dartmouth Review deliberately outed some gay students to their parents by writing them (the parents) letters to inform that their children were guy.

    Whadda great guy, eh?

  23. #23 Tyler DiPietro
    January 30, 2007

    One of the more interesting things that should be brought up is that Bin Laden not only decries our “decadence” as a society in our sexuality, but also in our economic system. In his open letter to America, he not repeatedly decries the things listed in this passage:

    (2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.

    (a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling’s, and trading with interest.

    “Trading with interest”? So to comply with D’Souza’s recommendation we would have to shut down our banks and close the stock market? And read the rest of the letter to see how Bin Laden rails against us for how we pollute (and refuse to sign the Kyoto protocol), etc. In other words, he also decries the capitalist system. I wonder why this hasn’t been emphasized by conservative D’Souza.

  24. #24 James
    January 31, 2007

    Of course Bin Laden decries capitalism – in it he sees his death and the death of his grasp for power. Capitalism is responsible for creating the middle class, a group not prosperous enough to be happy with the status quo, but with enough free time to do something about it. Capitalism is the nightmare of any totalitarian. A truly rich Middle East would have no use for Al Quaida.

  25. #25 Tyler DiPietro
    January 31, 2007

    James,

    To be perfectly honest, Bin Laden is well in line with Biblical and Quaranic teachings on the matter. In both canons you find repeated examples of what we would in modern times consider anti-capitalist: demonization of the affluent, decrying excessive wealth, condemnation of usury as sin, etc., etc. In fact, it’s one of the more ironic things about Christian conservatives, who claim to hold beliefs virtually isomorphic to God’s Word (TM) but are on the whole very pro-free market (until it produces things they don’t like).

  26. #26 James
    January 31, 2007

    True, but at the end of the day Biblical and Quaranic teachings are sufficiently diverse that you can use a part of them to permit or forbid anything if you want (why else are they so popular with politicians?). The parts Bin Laden focuses on tells you a bit about what his real objectives are, and there is a good economic reason why groups like Al Quaida have little power in wealthy, industrialised countries (excpet, tellingly, in isolated pockets of poverty).

    The most confounding thing I find about the Christian right is that on the one hand they will say that emergent complexity is impossible and that complex systems must be intelligently designed to exist, and then on the other extol the virtues of the free market a prime example of an emergent, complex system. Intellectual honesty (if they had any) should compell them to be communists (or some form of central planners). Mind you, once you get past the rhetoric, most of them are really merchantilists anyway.

  27. #27 Raging Bee
    January 31, 2007

    It’s not “right-wing appeasement;” it’s part of a concerted attempt to create a worldwide right-wing coalition against all things “liberal.” D’Sousa has looked beneath the rhetoric and realized that the Christian and Muslim far-right have a common enemy: us.

    Pope Palpadict has been tentatively moving in the same direction: by blaming “neo-paganism” for the Holocaust and other evils; by adding his voice to the Arab Toon Tantrum; and by reaching out to the far right in his own church to counterbalance the rampant liberalism of the West. Then, of course, there’s the far-right Anglicans making common cause with a Nigerian bigot.

    It’s not appeasement; it’s a strategy. Expect more of the same, especially if liberals start winning elections here.

  28. #28 raj
    January 31, 2007

    James | January 31, 2007 12:17 AM

    Of course Bin Laden decries capitalism – in it he sees his death and the death of his grasp for power. Capitalism is responsible for creating the middle class, a group not prosperous enough to be happy with the status quo, but with enough free time to do something about it. Capitalism is the nightmare of any totalitarian.

    Horse manure. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany were capitalist countries. And Communist China is a capitalist country. All “capitalism” says is that the means of production is in private hands, it says nothing about the political system of the respective capitalist country. Quite frankly, it is not unusual for the “capitalists” to be in league with the politicians to screw the ordinary citizens. Somewhat like religious institutions who were in league with politicians to screw ordinary citizens.

  29. #29 Pierce R. Butler
    January 31, 2007

    Ed Brayton: No, there is no compromise with Bin Laden or with radical Islam; none is possible and none should be contemplated.

    The word “compromise” is hopelessly vague here. I have no use for “radical” (or moderate) Islam, and would do whatever I could to prevent US law from adopting standards of sharia – but that doesn’t mean I propose to snatch veils off women’s faces or sign up to invade, occupy & “modernize” Muslim nations, either. (Even if Sam Harris calls me an appeaser!)

    “No compromise!” is fine chest-thumping macho rhetoric, but as stated it bears about as much connection to reality as any given spontaneous comments by Boy George or Kazmer Ujvarosy.

  30. #30 Ed Brayton
    January 31, 2007

    When I say there can be no compromise with radical Islam, I was not referring to any sort of foreign policy strategy or how to defeat it. I was referring to making any changes in our own way of life to placate them.

  31. #31 DuWayne
    January 31, 2007

    Pierce Butler -
    The word “compromise” is hopelessly vague here.

    Not in the least. just look at the ontext of the statement. No one here, least of all Ed, has suggested invading Muslim countries and tearing the viels off of woman.

    It is the demands of Bin Laden, that we are refusing any compromise on. Personaly, I think our country has “compromised” plenty to that son of a bitch. We are not going to stone gays – or even imprison them. We are not going to let parents, mutilate their daughter’s vagina. We are not going to change our society, to make that sociopath, or any other fundamentalist happy.

  32. #32 Greco
    February 1, 2007

    It is open, obvious and well understood. It applies to all traditional societies and not just Islam. (south American, Polynesian, Indian ect)

    Saying that “South America” is a “traditional” monolithic “society” shows only your complete ignorance.