Deconstructing D’Souza

This writer has been popping up on my Facebook feed and other places for several years. He is a prolific publisher, always seeming to be a bit off-kilter. Since a lot of people take him seriously, he is worth some analysis. Here is a blurb from Wikipedia, slightly edited:

Dinesh Joseph D’Souza; born April 25, 1961) is an Indian American conservative political commentator, author and filmmaker. From 2010 to 2012, he was president of The King’s College, a Christian school in New York City.

Born in Bombay, D’Souza came to the United States as an exchange student and graduated from Dartmouth College. He became a naturalized citizen in 1991. He is the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including titles on Christian apologetics. D’Souza has been critical of New Atheism. In 2012, D’Souza released his film 2016: Obama’s America, an anti-Obama polemic based on D’Souza’s 2010 book The Roots of Obama’s Rage; the film is the highest-grossing conservative documentary film produced in the United States.

On May 20, 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of using a “straw donor” to make an illegal campaign contribution to a 2012 United States Senate campaign, a felony. On September 23, he was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house near his home in San Diego, five years probation, and a $30,000 fine.

So, a quick read leaves the impression of a person passionate about an ideal to the extent that other ideals must go on the block.

Regarding the New Atheism, to which D’Souza seems much opposed, it is a recent movement holding that “superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever their influence arises in government, education, and politics.” In the spirit of full disclosure, I adhere to the New Atheism. Additionally I am going to be opposed to much of D’Souza’s thinking, or, if not his thinking, then what he is saying about what he is thinking and what he wants people to believe. That said, this is not going to be a kind and gentle review of his most recent book, The Big Lie.

I was off on vacation earlier this month when the book came up in an on-line conversation, and I purchased the Kindle edition, on which this review is based. As I began to plow through the author’s rhetoric I started highlighting significant passages—you can do that with Kindle—intending to come to them subsequently in a review. I quickly realized I was highlighting something on about every page, so I made the decision early on to take this book one chapter at a time. It’s going to make the whole thing more digestible. Let’s see how it goes. Start with Chapter One, “Return of the Nazis.”

As advertised on the cover, this book is going to convince us the American Left (however that’s defined) has Nazi roots. How does it start? It starts by demonstrating that The Left has victims and further that The Left attempts to absolve itself of blame (blame for this victimization) by blaming the people it victimizes. After an opening paragraph that discusses Sigmund Freud’s theory of transference he gets off into how he sees that Adolf (remember the Nazis) used this mechanism. He quotes from Hitler’s book, which I quote here more completely:

All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true in itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large- scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.

Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf (p. 203). Prabhat Prakashan. Kindle Edition.

So, that’s the scheme of The Left. They will accuse their opponents of the big lie, much as Hitler (the Nazis) employed the tactic in the rise to power:

Hitler, however, is not referring to his own big lies. Rather, he is referring to the lies allegedly promulgated by the Jews. The Jews, Hitler says, are masters of the big lie. Now recognize that Mein Kampf is a tireless recitation of libels and calumnies against the Jews. The Jews are accused of everything from being capitalists to being Bolsheviks, from being impotent to lusting after Nordic women, from being culturally insignificant to being seekers of world domination. The charges are contradictory; they cannot simultaneously be true.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 68-73). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Hopefully the stage is now set for understanding the argument that’s going to run the length of the book. I hope. At this point I have read the first two chapters, and there are nine. Reading the first two gives me to consider I may not be able to distill D’Souza’s central argument, partly because his argument has the appearance of being whatever he needs to say to convince readers that The Left is a collection of Fascists, Nazis, liars. Hence the title.

I will pick a few choice quotes from each chapter and give readers an idea of where D’Souza is going wrong. Here is one tactic that I have covered before:

Even my most incriminating allegations proved invulnerable. I noted that, in 1860, the year before the Civil War, no Republican owned a slave; all the four million slaves at the time were owned by Democrats.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 114-116). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

You have to understand the assumed association. Left = Democrat = the Democratic Party. The statement about only Democrats owning slaves almost has to be true by definition. In 1860 the Republican party, newly created, had abolition its principal platform. While it would be a stretch to say  “All the four million slaves at the time were owned by Democrats,” it would not be much of a stretch to say that no Republicans owned slaves. We have to think that if you were a Republican, then you had already signed up to abolish slavery. Here D’Souza goes out on a limb to state only Democrats owned slaves in 1860. The reason this is not necessarily so is there was never any compelling reason for slave owners to join the Democratic party. D’Souza is guessing, and his readers are not expected to realize that.

D’Souza is playing the game that has become known as “Quick History Lesson.” Here is the link from four years ago:

Facebook again. Somebody posted this on their Facebook feed. It’s supposed to be a history lesson. In fact, it’s title is “Quick History Lesson.” It is quick. Here’s what it says:

And here’s the meme that got the discussion going:

The argument being made then, as D’Souza is attempting to make now, is that Democratic Party = Left = liberal = racist. Follow the link and see how that approach leads nowhere. My observation from four years ago hints at D’Souza’s fallacy:

Strom Thurmond is one of those Democrats who deserted the Party when it started becoming too liberal in 1964.

James Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician who served for 48 years as a United States Senator. He ran for president in 1948 as the States Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat) candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes. Thurmond represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 until 2003, at first as a Democrat and, after 1964, as a Republican. He switched because of his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, disaffection with the liberalism of the national party, and his support for the conservatism and opposition to the Civil Rights bill of the Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater. He left office as the only senator to reach the age of 100 while still in office and as the oldest-serving and longest-serving senator in U.S. history (although he was later surpassed in length of service by Robert Byrd and Daniel Inouye). Thurmond holds the record at 14 years as the longest-serving Dean of the United States Senate in U.S. history.

A Democratic (not all that liberal) president ended racial discrimination in the United States Military services. More recently, liberals, principally of the Democratic Party, have championed laws forbidding hiring discrimination against homosexuals. A liberal Democratic president has ordered a halt to anti-homosexual bias in the military services. These have been liberal initiatives with little or no support from the conservative faction.

I state without further elaboration that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and similar civil rights legislation would not exist today if the conservatives presently representing the Tea Party coalition had their way.

The “Quick History Lesson” theme carried through multiple subsequent posts, including one with the following observation:

Smith is right. It was the Republican Party that abolished slavery 150 years ago, and it was the Democratic Party in the Old South that continued to support suppression of black citizens for nearly a hundred years until… Until Franklin Roosevelt was elected as a very liberal president in 1932, and Democratic President Harry Truman desegregated the United States armed services. The kicker came in the presidential election of 1964 when Barry Goldwater was nominated, and movie actor Ronald Reagan explained to Republicans at the nominating convention how bad and nonconservative had been the policies of Democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In that year conservatives began to see the light and to make their shift from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. This day the Confederate flag never waves at a Democratic Party function, and the Old South is nearly wall to wall Republican.

If Carl Smith is concerned about the welfare of the KKK he can put his mind at ease. The KKK still has a small place in the hearts of some people, and he never had to look very far from his podium at the March CPAC to find that place.

Yes, D’Souza is going to need to stretch the truth mightily to lay racism at the feet of today’s Democratic Party or to link it to what he calls the American Left.

Some more:

Even after the election, it’s now harder, as a consequence of the book and movie, for Democrats to play the race card. They tried, briefly, in attempting to halt the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Trump’s attorney general. Decades ago, the charge went, he said some racist things. Yes, but what about Democrat Robert Byrd, “conscience of the Senate”? Decades ago, he had been a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet the Clintons and Obama eulogized him when he died in 2010. The Democrats discovered, to their dismay, that their race card had become a dud. It no longer worked. Sessions sailed through.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 128-132). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

Yes, the new Attorney General was found by Democrats (and liberals) to be unfavorable, and they did lean on his previous positions on racially-sensitive issues to push for his defeat. Subsequent developments show a mixture. Here are some citations from Wikipedia:

On April 10, 2017, Sessions disbanded the National Commission on Forensic Science and ended the Department’s review of the forensic accuracy in closed cases.

On April 3, 2017, Sessions announced that he was going to review consent decrees in which local law enforcement agencies had agreed to Department oversight. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar then denied Sessions’s request to delay a new consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department.

On May 12, 2017, Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to begin seeking the greatest criminal charges possible. The new guidelines rescinded a memo by Attorney General Eric Holder that had sought to reduce mass incarceration by avoiding mandatory sentencing.

On October 4, 2017, Sessions released a Department of Justice (DoJ) memo interpreting Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, stating that Title VII “is ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female,” but it “does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se.” The memo was written to withdraw an earlier DoJ memorandum issued by Eric Holder on December 15, 2014, which aligned the DoJ with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on interpreting Title VII to include gender identity or transgender status as a protected class. At that time, DoJ had already stopped opposing claims of discrimination brought by federal transgender employees.[141] Devin O’Malley, representing the DoJ, stated “the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle [that the Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided], which necessitated today’s action.” Sharon McGowan, a lawyer with Lambda Legal who previously served in the Civil Rights division of DoJ, rejected that argument, saying “this memo [issued by Sessions] is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were” and “[t]he Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”

However:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dispatched an experienced federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student last year, a highly unusual move that officials said was personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In taking the step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.

Regarding D’Souza’s claim that Sessions’ confirmation “sailed through” indicates a considerable variance from reality. The fact is that Sessions was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 47 in the Senate, with all Republicans voting for confirmation in addition to one Democrat. There was one abstention, and 45 Democrats voted against in addition to the two Independent senators. I look forward to sailing through my next medical exam.

D’Souza spends much of Chapter One defining the terms Nazi and Fascist. The goal appears to be that if you parse the right definitions you can pin these disagreeable terms on Democrats and on liberals in general. For the record, official Fascism began in Italy post World War One with the rise of Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler so admired Mussolini’s approach he adopted the concept in his nascent Nazi (National Socialist) party. In only this manner are the two closely associated. A more scholarly definition of Fascism is found in Wikipedia:

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalismMarxism and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

Ignoring that definition, D’Souza wants to place Fascism to the left of center.

This is a topic I have not written about before. On two occasions, once in 1976 and again in 1980, Reagan offhandedly linked the Democratic Party with fascism.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 86-87). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But that was Ronald Regan, dead over ten years. Come forward to 2017, and D’Souza wants to deny Fascism is right wing:

In this case, the story that we had accepted, like suckers, was the idea that fascism and Nazism are inherently “right wing.”

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 94-96). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

And he goes on from there. He rightly gets into the tactics of the anti-fascist (AntiFa) people. They are disrupting, often with violence, conservative speakers and events. The publication date on the book states it came out in 2017, and it is likely so that publication preceded some significant events:

The Unite the Right rally (also known as the Charlottesville rally) was a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, from August 11–12, 2017. Its stated goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, which itself had been renamed by City Council from ”Lee Park” two months earlier. Protesters included white supremacistswhite nationalistsneo-Confederatesneo-Nazis, and various militias. Some of the marchers chanted racist and antisemitic slogans, carried semi-automatic riflesswastikasConfederate battle flagsanti-Muslimand antisemitic banners, and “Trump/Pence” signs.

[Skip some material]

After the aborted rally, at around 1:45 p.m., a man drove his car into a crowd of counterprotestors, hitting several and slamming into a stopped sedan, which hit a stopped minivan that was in front of it. The impact of the crash pushed the sedan and the minivan further into the crowd. One person was killed and 19 others were injured in what police have called a deliberate attack. The man then reversed the car through the crowd and fled the scene.

If you have missed any signs that Dinesh D’Souza is all for Donald Trump, then it is because I have not brought the matter up until now. Yes, Dinesh D’Souza goes full-court to defend Donald Trump against his detractors.

Start with this. In previous postings I have noted that a particularly odorous crowd seems attracted to Trump and cannot be found anywhere cheering for Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama).

Obviously, the question still remains: why do these guys like Trump if Trump isn’t a racist like them? One possible answer is that these are jobless guys, losers in society, some of them total imbeciles. Whatever they call themselves—fascists or something else—frankly I don’t believe they are fascists or know much about fascism. Hitler would have sent most of them straight to the gas chambers. (Let’s recall that one of the earliest categories of people Hitler euthanized were the so-called “imbeciles.”) It’s quite possible that these guys voted for Trump because they expect him to bring back unskilled jobs. So even if Trump is not a racist, it’s still possible that racists would like him for reasons that have nothing to do with racism.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 714-720). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

That reasoning is a neat piece of work. Why are (the people I mentioned) attracted to Trump? D’Souza grasps for an answer. Apparently any answer. These people are jobless (desperate). Or maybe merely losers. Else they could be imbeciles. Yes, I could agree with the last. D’Souza plunges on from there—for whatever reason I cannot discern. Yes, if they are imbeciles, then they are the kind that Nazis would not like—the Nazis would euthanize them. So, why would they support Trump if Trump were a Nazi? Makes sense.

D’Souza goes to tremendous length to winnow out the definition of Nazi and Fascist, and I am not going to follow that thread to its conclusion. I will close by dropping some quotes I found interesting.

Trump’s statements about Muslims cannot be termed racist for the simple reason that Islam is a religion, not a race. Can they, however, be termed xenophobic or anti -Muslim?

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 724-725). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Have fun with that one while I go on to the next.

It follows, therefore, that civil rights belong only to citizens. Aliens who are not part of the American social compact don’t have any constitutional rights. Again, Trump’s denial that illegal aliens have a constitutional right to be here is in the mainstream of the liberal tradition.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 735-738). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

D’Souza is a naturalized citizen from India, so he must have taken a civics course as part of the process. Apparently he slept through the class describing a constitutional amendment that guarantees everybody due process of the law. To put it briefly, non-citizens, legally here or not, have constitutional rights. An illegal alien cannot be arrested and convicted for a crime without a trail and all that goes with it.

Finally, let’s hear it for President Trump.

He got himself elected, and now he’s handling the most extreme opposition with aplomb.

D’Souza, Dinesh. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Kindle Locations 785-786). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Please try not to laugh.

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One thought on “Deconstructing D’Souza

  1. Pingback: Deconstructing D’Souza | Skeptical Analysis

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