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Photo by Jack GouldConservative "scholar" Dinesh D'Souza couldn't have picked a safer venue than the Balboa Bay Club (BBC) to deliver his Nov. 4 harangue on the evils of multiculturalism. In the parking lot outside, pricy imported cars sat gleaming; at dockside, yachts larger than houses rocked gently. Three anorexic white women swam laps over the tiled BBC crest elaborately embedded in the pool floor. A preppy, fiftysomething white man sat expressionless in a lounge chair, his right hand firmly gripping a quiet cell phone. Oblivious housewives with big hairdos and fast-moving mouths came in and out of the spa. A plump middle-aged white woman in an ill-fitting sailor suit eyed a romance novel under a canopy of blossoming bougainvillea.
D'Souza's audience gathered in a nearby meeting room, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, and then ate French toast and eggs. Every few minutes, obsequious Latino waiters hurried by, carrying folded towels or beverage trays. Except for the cell phone and a noisy Evian vending machine, it could have been a scene out of the Eisenhower years.
Last year, D'Souza—a brown-skinned Indian immigrant and American Enterprise Institute researcher—authored an editorial in USA Today titled "Sometimes discrimination can make sense." In it, he argued that "the treatment accorded young African-American males by police officers" is "rational discrimination" because "in a situation in which we have limited information about individuals, we must make group judgments based on probability." During recent years, the former Reagan administration policy analyst has gained stature within right-wing circles by calling blacks "dependable Sammies" and claiming that it is not racism that plagues blacks but their dysfunctional culture. Dependably pompous and polarizing, he once described university affirmative-action programs as "ammunition to losers."
Minorities who bash minorities and espouse Republican dogma have always been trophies in GOP circles. Politics is jam-packed with the likes of Alan Keyes, Clarence Thomas, Armstrong Williams, J.C. Watts and Larry Elder—all of whom could ironically be called "dependable Sammies" for their generous conservative benefactors. So it will come as no surprise that former Newport Beach Assemblyman Gil Ferguson enthusiastically introduced D'Souza as an "outstanding American" to his Principle Over Politics monthly breakfast group. The lily-white, elderly audience smiled warmly and chewed its sausages.
But D'Souza hadn't come to slam multiculturalism. He'd come to plug his new book, The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-affluence. In a largely academic presentation, complete with colorful references to C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare, D'Souza cautioned conservatives to abandon their "deeply pessimistic" view of change and instead embrace the technological revolution. Rather than help dismantle traditional family life, for example, he claims the Internet will increase the number of parents who work at home.
"There is reason for celebration," he told a blue-haired crowd that, in all probability, views the Internet as a cesspool of liberalism, atheism and pornography. "This is a moral game; not just an economic one. Family life will be better because of the change."
D'Souza, who authored the warts-free biography Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, pointed out that the Internet is producing a large number of new millionaires. "This is good news, too," he said excitedly. "It is the people who have overcome the scarcity of money who can realize the scarcity of time and the scarcity of morality. There will be a spiritual revival led by rich people. . . . It will be like Reagan's 'Morning in America' again!"
Despite the evocation of Reagan's name, when it came time for Q&A, the audience had another issue they wanted to discuss. In the midst of the nearly homogeneous Balboa Bay Club, they wanted to talk about the dangers of multiculturalism.
"What is the future of the whole diversity question?" asked one middle-aged white guy wearing sunglasses.
"[The] race brokers of the world like Jesse Jackson aren't going away," D'Souza said, "because corporate America isn't good at dealing with this issue. They'd rather pay that guy off, and that's making for an unequal fight. Our strength is that we have principles."
Another man, a self-described immigrant from Asia, stood up and asked, "Why do you think so many of my wealthy immigrant friends are liberal Democrats?"
D'Souza gripped the podium with both hands, smiled and nodded. "Affluence has introduced a softness," he said. "There is an impulse on the Left to believe 'I've done well; now let me do good.'"
The audience remained silent.
"That's part of it," he continued. "The other part is sheer, unmitigated stupidity."
Hearty laughter broke out.
As the all-Latino waitstaff poured last cups of coffee and toted off plates of half-eaten food, D'Souza—who recently bought a house in the exclusive Rancho Santa Fe section of San Diego County—finished.
"Once you become a Republican," he said, "you truly become an American—because you are then an insider."