Conservative commentator, author, and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza spoke to a capacity crowd November 1, 2016, in Main Lounge, Moulton Union. His talk,”America: Unchained — What’s so great about America? An evening with Dinesh D’Souza,” was harshly critical of the Democratic party in general and the Clintons in particular. Watch the video here.
Born in Mumbai, India, Dinesh D’Souza came to the US as an exchange student and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1983. Since then, he has had a prominent career as a writer, scholar, and political adviser. He became a filmmaker with his top-grossing documentary 2016: Obama’s America, released in 2012.
A former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, D’Souza also served as John M. Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He served as the president of The King’s College in New York City from 2010 to 2012. D’Souza’s first book, Illiberal Education (1991), publicized the phenomenon of political correctness in America’s colleges and universities, and became a New York Times bestseller for fifteen weeks. It has been listed as one of the most influential books of the 1990s.
D’Souza began his lecture by talking about his own experience being incarcerated for campaign finance fraud—he exceeded the legal campaign finance limit by donating too much money to a friend’s political campaign in 2012. He avoided a jail sentence but spent several months in a confinement center near the Mexican border.
“This experience was eye-opening for me,” said D’Souza, “because it showed me a totally different side of America, all kinds of people whose American dream is totally broken.” D’Souza said this gave him a fresh insight into human nature, and more particularly into American politics. He said he developed a greater appreciation for understanding politics “as it really is,” and not as people say it ought to be. “Let’s listen less to what people say, and more to what they want,” he said.
From here, D’Souza launched a blistering attack on the Democratic Party, saying that contrary to what many people think, the Democrats were really “the party of racism and slavery” with strong links to the Ku Klux Klan, whereas the Republicans were ones who opposed slavery. He also accused many Democrats of being opposed to both women’s rights, and to civil rights legislation of the 1960s. The reason most people are not aware of this, said D’Souza, is left-wing domination of what he calls the “three biggest megaphones of our culture:” the media, academe, and Hollywood. This has led to what he called a “one-sided flow of information.”
D’Souza saved much of his ire, though, for Bill and Hillary Clinton, who he compared to the gangsters Bonnie and Clyde. He accused the Clintons, for example, of supporting particular policies for their own financial gain, “of renting out” American foreign policy; he also charged them with renting out the Lincoln bedroom at the White House to guests, again for their own financial gain.
To be clear, D’Souza is not a huge fan of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump either, but portrays him as the lesser of two evils in this election. “Politics,” he said, “is not a world of good choices.” While Trump has a lot of question marks around him, said D’Souza, he added that Hillary Clinton is known to be corrupt. He described the current election as “tough and dismaying,” but D’Souza also characterized the GOP as the true party of opportunity for the American working class, while the Democratic party, he said, is committed to creating a welfare-dependent society.
During the question-and-answer session after his lecture, D’Souza was asked about US foreign policy, which he described as being a “disaster in the Middle East” under Obama. He also said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin, while flawed, would be easier to deal with than Islamic terror groups, who are ideologically opposed to the West. When asked about the race issue, D’Souza said it was the Democratic Party that is the true party of racism: “Racism is the natural home of the Democratic Party,” he said. Many people, he said, including Donald Trump, are accused of being racist, when in fact, all they are guilty of is making thoughtless or “stupid” comments.
D’Souza, who was invited to talk by student Republicans, criticized college campuses, including Bowdoin’s, where he said “intellectual diversity is scarce” and conservative voices are few and far between. The 170-person-strong crowd for the most part listened respectfully during his talk, some of them occasionally applauding. After the event at Moulton Union, D’Souza went to Ladd House for a more informal discussion with a student-only audience.
D’Souza’s visit to Bowdoin was sponsored by the Lindsey Fund for Guest Lectures and the Bowdoin College Republicans.