The great Republican troll Dinesh D’Souza will speak at Chapman University next week. That’s right, the man who spends his days writing books no one needs to read and making films no one on Earth should ever have to watch will get a chance to talk to college kids right here in Orange County.
Absolutely nothing D’Souza says is trustworthy. At no time does he ever make arguments in good faith. His understanding of history is at best horribly flawed and at worst flagrantly dishonest. He’s a propagandist, a con-man, and nothing more. He strings together bits and phrases from history into hammering attacks on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. His ubiquity in the media is in large part due to the Republican Party degenerating into what historian Rick Perlstein calls “The Long Con“–a giant scam that today exists only to sell white supremacist misogyny to fools while it hands trillions of dollars in tax cuts to billionaire oligarchs.
Here’s how Kevin Kruse, an American history professor at Princeton University, explained D’Souza when asked in this Feb. 19, 2019 interview with The Politic why he spars with him so often on Twitter:
He’s not a historian, and that’s clear from his lack of knowledge about basic facts of the fields. He’s constantly presenting these things that we’ve talked about endlessly as something he’s discovered, like, “Did you know that Southern Democrats were the party of segregation and slavery?” Yes, it’s kind of actually a big theme of what we do in the classroom and in our work, I mean I literally wrote a book on what segregation has to do with Southern Democrats, it’s kind of a big thing. But he’s also clearly not a historian in the way in which he approaches this. He starts with a fixed political argument he wants to make, and when he looks back into the past for evidence, he cherry picks. That’s exactly wrong. You do history by looking at the evidence, as much evidence as you can, and following that to your conclusion, not the other way around. That’s not what an historian does.
And yes, D’Souza also famously got into trouble with the law in 2012. Here’s an excerpt from this May 31, 2018 explainer from Vox that briefly lays out D’Souza’s crime and punishment.
D’Souza pled guilty to one count of making illegal contributions in the names of others, but has claimed throughout that he is being selectively prosecuted by the Obama administration for his political beliefs. Prosecutors, led by prominent US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, pushed for D’Souza to be sentenced to 10-16 months in federal prison. Judge Richard Berman spared him jail time, sentencing him to eight months in a community confinement center, five years probation, and a $30,000 fine. But Berman categorically rejected the idea that D’Souza was a victim of selective prosecution: “That’s nonsense. Spin is what that is.”
The least surprising thing President Donald Trump ever did was pardon D’Souza on May 31, 2018.
Anyway, here’s the event listing on the Chapman University website:
The Chapman Republicans present guest speaker Dinesh D’Souza. He is an Indian-born, nationally known conservative commentator and film maker. Dinesh is filled with many outspoken opinions, and is known as the guy who was tried by the Obama administration and later freed by the Trump administration.
Now we can imagine that the writer of that gibberish is just another dumbass bro drunk on his privilege. Or we can consider these words and think, “this was written by a future federal appeals court judge with a lifetime appointment who will make Brett Kavanaugh seem like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,” and suddenly the price we pay for letting someone like D’Souza speak at a place like Chapman University becomes all too clear.
Dinesh D’Souza will appear at Chapman University on Thursday, Nov. 7, 6:30-9:30 p.m. in Sandhu Conference Room D. The talk is open to all faculty and students.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.