Published on Saturday, January 20, 2007 by the Progressive
Dinesh D’Souza’s Bizarre New Book
by Amitabh Pal
Dinesh D’Souza is at it again.
In his new book, “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” conservative ideologue D’Souza blames the American left for Sept. 11. Here’s how his reasoning goes: The Muslim world is angry at the United States for the moral and cultural breakdown that liberals brought about in this country, and then exported to the Middle East. In addition, the left exhibits an anti-Americanism in its critique of U.S. policy that is quite similar to the worldview of Islamic fundamentalists.
“The cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world,” D’Souza writes in the portion excerpted on the book’s back cover. “Without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.”
As a fellow Indian immigrant, I have a particular interest in D’Souza. I have been following his work since the early 1990s, when he first made a name for himself with “Illiberal Education,” which lambasted the supposed epidemic of political correctness on campuses by stringing together the worst incidents of this phenomenon and making it seem like an all-pervasive curse across the nation. He followed this up a few years later with “The End of Racism,” which posited that African Americans suffer from inherent cultural pathologies that keep them down. The book’s take on race was so vile that two African-American conservatives associated with the American Enterprise Institute, Glenn Loury and Robert Woodson, resigned from the think tank in protest over “The End of Racism” and Charles Murray’s “Bell Curve.” Both D’Souza and Murray were fellows at American Enterprise. “The End of Racism” wasn’t the first time that D’Souza has faced accusations of racial bias. When he was the editor of the Dartmouth Review as an undergrad, it “published an interview with a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, using a mock photograph of a black man hanging from a campus tree,” the Post reports.
Since his last couple of books came and went without much notice, D’Souza has decided to stir things up again.
The pity is that D’Souza is not a dislikable fellow. I’ve seen him in action twice (once in a debate with Cornel West), and have even briefly chatted with him. For the intemperateness of his views, he is surprisingly soft-spoken and personable.
This doesn’t excuse the tripe that D’Souza puts out, however.
“The Enemy at Home” is so ridiculous that I don’t even know where to begin my demolition job. Much of it is a tiresome rant at the perceived excesses of the left, rather than a coherent attempt to buttress his thesis statements. It is true, as D’Souza points out, that bin Laden has, on occasion, decried the moral decline of America. However, bin Laden’s main grouse with the United States has been its foreign policy, ranging from its stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia and support of Israel to the sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s and support of pro-Western autocracies. (“Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden,” edited by Duke University Professor Bruce Lawrence, is a useful compendium of bin Laden’s public declarations over the years.) D’Souza knows this, and hence in a sleight of hand focuses a lot of attention on the writings of earlier Islamic fundamentalists like Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.
As for D’Souza’s assertion that the liberal-left resembles Islamic radicals since both groups share a critique of the United States, his logic follows a path like this: The Nazis and American conservatives shared a passionate dislike for communism and socialism. Ergo, conservatives and Nazis have had a similar worldview.
D’Souza’s logic is so over the top that on “The Colbert Report,” he even blamed FDR in part for setting off the chain of events that culminated in 9/11. Bizarrely, he admitted to Colbert that he shared some of Osama’s assessment about the immorality of American culture.
D’Souza has reportedly made good money over the years through his books and lecture appearances, satisfying the right’s desire to have a nonwhite face amplifying its most ludicrous assertions. Maybe the moolah he has raked in compensates him enough for selling his soul.
© 2007 The Progressive