More on D'Souza's Ridiculous Book

James Wolcott has another post on Dinesh D'Souza's appalling argument that we should become more like the Taliban in order to make them hate us less. He includes a few quotes from the book that are so stupid they leave your mouth agape as you read them. For instance:

"The left doesn't blame America for undermining the shah of Iran, getting rid of Ferdinand Marcos, or imposing sanctions against South Africa."

As Wolcott rightly points out, it was the left that argued for imposing sanctions against South Africa and the right that fought against them. Our beloved VP, Dick Cheney, not only voted repeatedly agaisnt sanctions against South Africa, he even voted against a resolution calling on the government of that country to release Nelson Mandela from prison. How morally bankrupt is that?

What Wolcott didn't mention is that it was also the left that objected to the US supporting the Shah of Iran in the first place. Putting him in power and overthrowing the only democratically elected leader Iran had ever had was the single biggest mistake we have ever made in the Middle East. We overthrew Mossadegh and put the Shah in power, atop a mountain of US aid and weaponry, and looked the other way while his secret police force, SAVAK, kidnapped people off the streets of Tehran and used electric drills on them.

We were complicit in their oppression and it blew up in our face, as it always does, when the mullahs took over in 1978. And it wasn't the left that did that, it was Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers, all in the name of a false and trumped up charge of being on the side of the Soviet Union (in fact, Mossadegh had been the one who got the Soviet Union out of northern Iran after WW2). I am convinced that had we supported Mossadegh rather than overthrowing him, the entire history of that region may well have been different. We would have had an authentic, homegrown democracy in the Middle East, one run by a staunch modernist educated in the West.

As for Ferdinand Marcos, again it was the left that opposed US support for this dictatorial thug while the right was firmly on his side. He was close with both Nixon and Reagan, who didn't seem to care that he had declared martial law, dissolved the legislature, had his political opponents assassinated and engaged in massive corruption to enrich himself at the expense of his own people. Then Vice President George Bush actually went to Manila in 1981 and declared, "We love your adherence to democratic principles and to democratic processes."

"The left would like to have Mapplethorpe's photographs and Brokeback Mountain seen in every country. In short, the left wants America to be a shining beacon of moral depravity, a kind of Gomorrah on a hill."

Or perhaps a shining beacon of freedom. What is D'Souza's alternative, a place where the government throws people in prison for erotic photography or for making movies about gay people? There are many such nations on the earth, including Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was like that too before we overthrew the Taliban. And that is what D'Souza wants for America. And he calls liberals un-American. The man's hypocrisy simply knows no bounds. Wolcott replies:

Leaving aside the fact that D'Souza seems to think that the rather chaste study in repression and renunciation, Brokeback Mountain, is a recruiting poster for buggery, it's revealing that his prime examples of "moral depravity" contain homosexual content that he finds abhorrent. He probably would have wanted to crack down on those Weimar cabarets too had he been around then and able to fill a fine pair of black boots. "Gomorrah on a hill"--such a foul accusation reminds us that D'Souza began his career as a rhetorical gay-basher. According to Brock, Laura Ingraham and D'Souza (who were gf-bf at the time) "participated in the infamous outing of gay students [at Dartmouth], who were branded 'sodomites.'"

How nice of them. The Islamofascists they like to rant about so much would be quite proud of such actions, which only makes the hypocrisy that much deeper and more repulsive.

"In America, sad to say, we are inured to the debris of the broken family. We accept that the traditional family is no longer the norm, it is now something like an 'alternative lifestyle.' We invite Edgar and Austin to our dinner parties."

Why yes, Dinesh, we do. Because Edgar and Austin are human beings, and may well be smart and funny and good conversationalists. And your alternative to this is...what? To ostracize them and shut them out? To throw them in prison? To put them to death by stoning, as the radical Muslims do? I'm sure that would make the terrorists like us more, but it would require destroying the very notion of human liberty. That is a tradeoff that is only worth making to the Bin Ladens of the world, on whose side you have firmly placed yourself with this book.

"Is the point of marriage to ensure that children have a father and mother, or is it to make Edgar and Austin feel more accepted by society?"

Or maybe it is to provide security for Edgar and Austin's children, of which there are hundreds of thousands in this country. Maybe the legal protections we provide are for the purpose of helping make children in those households more secure by giving both legal and financial protections to the parents and by requiring things of them on behalf of their children. That's what we continually hear is the purpose of heterosexual marriage, yet somehow that reasoning goes right out the window when children with gay parents enter the conversation.

Because to people like D'Souza, gays aren't real parents and gay relationships aren't real relationships. And they can't really say anymore that they think the children of gay parents should be taken away from them, so they simply pretend that they don't exist rather than admit that the arguments they make for the importance of the protections of marriage for straight relationships applies equally to gay relationships.

I'll let Wolcott have the last word:

What D'Souza proposes in The Enemy at Home is that American conservatives join hands with traditional Muslims to keep gays and women subjugated and subservient. D'Souza opposes radical Islam because they want to destroy us. But Muslim restrictions on sexual freedom and strict enforcement of patriarchal diktats--those he kinda likes. Those he can work with. "What disgusts them [i.e, devout Muslims]is not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing one another and taking marriage vows." It clearly disgusts D'Souza too. Maybe he should convert.

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I found this at Balko's place and I'm just shaking my head in disbelief. Like he did, I'm going to quote the publisher's description of a new book by Dinesh D'Souza, a guy I previously considered one of the more bright and serious conservative thinkers. After reading this, I think that assessment…
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James Walcott has received the galley proofs for Dinesh D'Souza's new book, wherein he blames the "cultural left" for 9/11 because our horrible decadence makes the whackos so very angry. I think Walcott's reaction is about right: It isn't rare that I take instant animus against a book like this.…
Apparently, Dinesh D'Souza, who has been embarrassing himself with wanna-be-academic bomb throwing books for years, has finally thoroughly discredited himself. A fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute, D'Souza in his latest work The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,…

Let him now forever be known as "Osama D'Souza."

By Kenneth Fair (not verified) on 23 Oct 2006 #permalink

Wow. I never thought I'd feel like saying this, but, "Hey Dinesh, if you don't like America, why don't you go live in Saudi Arabia?"

"D'Souza Bin Laden" is more analogous. Two of the letters are in the same place and the D looks like an O if you squint.

In the words of our President: "You are either with us or against us". D'Souza is against us. Again I ask, when will he be give enemy combatant status and disappeared? Or is it that, like the charge of "judicial activism", that only applies to stuff they don't like?

Ed, what do you make of all the hoopla over Dawkin's book, from the Wired article to PZ's calls to arms, and so on? I'm really interested to hear your take on all this in a post sometime.

I think Salman Rushdie speaks to this point, in the essay he wrote for WaPo a few days after 9/11:

The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women's rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. These are tyrants, not Muslims....

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world's resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love.

The question Rushdie poses is: are we willing to fight for our rights to dancing, kissing and short skirts, because we are just as convinced as the fundamentalists (of any stripe) that dancing, kissing and short skirts, not to menton accountable secular government and inalienable civil rights, are worthy and MORAL things to fight for?

"To prove him wrong, we must know he is wrong."

plunge wrote:

Ed, what do you make of all the hoopla over Dawkin's book, from the Wired article to PZ's calls to arms, and so on? I'm really interested to hear your take on all this in a post sometime.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't read his new book. I received a review copy of it, but gave it to my father; he's actually reading it right now. I frankly tend to tune Dawkins out on questions of religion; I tend even more to tune out PZ on that question, having had more than one acrimonious exchange with him on the subject. The irony is that we probably agree on more than we disagree on. I'm sure we would all give a similar critique of Biblical claims about God and morality. We would probably all find the Biblical conception of God about equally absurd and barbaric, and same of the Quranic conception of God and probably the Hindu conception and others as well. We all agree on the need to fight the religious right's agenda, particularly as it relates to evolution and creationism, and we've all spent a great deal of time and energy doing so. In essence, we're all on the same side of the culture wars (though I think PZ thinks I'm not really on the right side because I'm a moderate on some questions and not an absolutist; and there are others, like the terminally ridiculous Gary Hurd, who bluntly think I'm a traitor for daring to deviate from the script at times).

Where I part company with both Dawkins and Myers is with their thinking that belief in any god at all is inherently irrational and that only a person of inferior intelligence would believe in one (Dawkins has said so explicitly, when he said that his daughter was "too intelligent" to believe in God; this clearly means that, in his view, intelligent people, at least above some unspecified level, no longer believe in god while unintelligent people do). I think that's absolute nonsense and I simply know too many brilliant people who are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and so forth to make such a claim. But to Dawkins and to PZ, people like Francis Collins can't just be wrong, they have to be either stupid or delusional. And that's going entirely too far.

"had we supported Mossadegh rather than overthrowing him ... We would have had an authentic, homegrown democracy in the Middle East"

I'm on my third book on 20th C Iran (pollack's "persian puzzle", ansari's "confronting iran", Ghesari & nasr's "democracy in iran") and all three, though to varying degrees, suggest that mossadegh's democratic credentials, especially immediately prior to the coup, were less impressive than your optimistic thesis presumes.

not to argue the point (way beyond my capability), just to suggest you might want to get some more views. one general idea I've gleaned from all three is that predicting what might have happened - or more relevant, what may happen - in Iran is an undertaking with a very low probability of success. which is, unfortunately, no doubt underappreciated by you-know-who.

-charles

"The left doesn't blame America for undermining the shah of Iran, getting rid of Ferdinand Marcos, or imposing sanctions against South Africa."

Wait... I'm confused. Doesn't the "Left" traditionally "blame America" for REINSTALLING the Shah of Iran, crushing the fledgling Iranian democracy and eventually leading to the revolution that installed Iran's current Islamic theocratic government? In fact, as far as I can tell this entire incident is one of the things the "Left" traditionally "blames America" for most vocally.

But when did the U.S. ever undermine the Shah? Wasn't the Shah a staunch U.S. ally?

And when and how did the U.S. "get rid" of Ferdinand Marcos? As far as I can tell Ferdinand Marcos was also a staunch U.S. ally until just before his own country "got rid" of him in a process which the U.S. did not meaningfully interfere in in favor of either side.

Is that quote actually in the book or is it a transcription error? It just seems bizarre even given who's writing it.

ctw-

Alternative history is always tricky (and, of course, unprovable). I base my position on having written a 50 page paper on the subject in college and having done an enormous amount of research for that. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm right, of course.

"The irony is that we probably agree on more than we disagree on."

This is what constantly frustrates me. It first of all frustrates me on a tactical level, since I work as a political consultant and am well acquainted with how hard it is to build successful coalitions and accomplish anything at all and I really DO want to accomplish things.

But if I make that point, then I get accused of being an apologist willing to sell principle down the river. Which really kind of hard to take because, frankly, I don't agree with the idea of selling religious people down the river as an alternative in the first place.

"having written a 50 page paper"

well, that clearly makes you the authority (at least between us), but I'm still surprised at your confidence in the prediction).

not available online, I presume.

tnx - c

Wolcott quotes D'Souza: "The European Union has forced all member nations to admit homosexuals into the military. Many European countries have legalized gay unions."

You can get to "many" by using the term "unions"; if you stick to marriage only, "many" becomes three: Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. However, even the "many" with unions also includes non-EU members Norway, Iceland, and Croatia.

But to give credit where it is due, it was then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Richard Lugar, who went to Manila, saw the truth, and alone among those who had Reagan's ear, called Marcos corrupt and said it would be folly and anti-democratic to send troops or other support to keep Marcos in power. Reagan listened to Lugar.

But Lugar is an Eagle Scout. He had to tell the truth. I think that disqualifies him from being a true conservative.

Thanks Ed for posting this. I had no idea D'Sousa was such a phobic jackbooted fascist.

What I wonder is, why is it always "Edgar and Austin"? Nothing against them, they're great guys, but why don't Dinesh and his ilk ever complain about Susan and Valerie?

Thanks Ed for posting this. I had no idea D'Sousa was such a phobic jackbooted fascist.

Surprised? I believe he did date Anne Coulter and Laura Ingraham and was a darling of the Reagan White House. He's got the discriminating tastes in his dates.

Have you ever read any of his best sellers on why affirmative action is unamerican? Or his views on welfare? It's very well written gibberish. I'm only surprised that his current quotes are so ...surprising. Given his history.

I have some Indian friends. They roll their eyes at the mention of his name.

By double-soup tuesday (not verified) on 23 Oct 2006 #permalink

Have you ever read any of his best sellers on why affirmative action is unamerican? Or his views on welfare?

Given that what he described at Stanford (the stuff he made his reputation on) was a complete distortion what I saw when I was there, I'm not sure I'd have to go that far....

ctw | October 23, 2006 04:12 PM

I'm not sure I would put much credence in anything that Kenneth Pollack writes. Although he is a former CIA analyst, he also was a primary cheerleader for GWBush's idiotic war on Iraq.

Irrespective of whether Pollack wrote something that questioned Mossadegh's "democratic credentials" (whatever that means) immediately prior to the coup--which he clearly knew was coming--the facts are that he was democratically elected, and that he was not removed from office via democratic means. Given that scenario, I don't know how he could have proven his democratic bona fides to Pollack.

Coin | October 23, 2006 04:19 PM

Wait... I'm confused....

I believe that what he is saying is that the Left doesn't blame America for things that America did not do.

On the subject of Dinesh D'Souza generally, it is fairly clear that he is a thief, as shown at least here and here. I had been led to believe that Mighty Righties like D'Souza were supposed to respect property of others, but I clearly was wrong.

why is it always "Edgar and Austin"? Nothing against them, they're great guys, but why don't Dinesh and his ilk ever complain about Susan and Valerie?

Because for tribalistic male homophobes like D'Laden, male homosexuality represents "weakness" on the part of males (or at least males on the "receiving" "end") who have to be strong workers, hunters and fighters; while female homosexuality is, well, just something women do, and hey, they're only women, right?

Also, "Susan and Valerie" are better looking, and more fun to fantasize about, than "Edgar and Austin." I'm sure D'Laden & Co. work up plenty of lather about "Susan and Valerie" -- just in private, if ya know what I mean, nudge nudge say no more...

"Kenneth Pollack ... was a primary cheerleader for GWBush's idiotic war on Iraq."

pollack has credentials that make his opinions at least worth considering. he did an analysis of the threat posed by Iraq based on the evidence available at the time and reached the conclusion that military action against Iraq was likely to be necessary at some point. in an atlantic article published in early 2004 - and therefore likely written about six months after the invasion - he acknowledged the deficiencies in the global intelligence that led him to his conclusions, the misbehavior of the bush admin prior to the invasion, and the "appalling handling of postwar planning". given these facts, labeling him a "cheerleader etc" is a gross misrepresentation and comes close to being worse.

after reading the book, I was reluctantly supportive of the possible need for military action. as the marketing campaign for the invasion - capped by powell's pathetic UN presentation - became increasingly obvious, I changed my mind and have been unequivocally opposed to the war ever since. despite that path, I have never had any reason to doubt pollack's sincerity.

"Mossadegh's "democratic credentials" (whatever that means)"

basic poli-sci: if you fix your reelection and become increasingly authoritarian, your "democratic credentials" lose some lustre (sound like anyone we know?). but to the specific point of pollack's credibility, mightn't one wonder why someone would be on their THIRD book covering the same period? it's called "redundancy for error control", especially necessary when the opinions of one of the authors warrant special skepticism. as mentioned, all three books (four authors) agree on this narrow point to some degree. not proof, but highly suggestive.

-charles