Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza, His Inner Mullah, and His Wallet

Last September I trashed Dinesh D'Souza's new book, based solely on the publisher's catalog copy and without seeing the book itself; I concluded that "D'Souza feels that we must be more like the Taliban and Al Qaeda in order to convince them that we're really not their enemies after all."

Well, the reviews are in, and perhaps I had jumped the gun on Doubleday's shiny new lead title for the spring season. The Enemy at Home is is apparently worse than I ever imagined.

Writing for Washington Post Book World, Murray Bass says exactly that, calling the book "the worst nonfiction book about terrorism published by a major house since 9/11." (And what a competitive field that is.)

In the upcoming New York Times Book Review (I'll add the link once the review is available online--here it is), Alan Wolfe remarks how D'Souza portrays Osama bin Laden as a "quiet, well-mannered, thoughtful, eloquent and deeply religious person" who "uses a different compass to assess America than Americans use to assess him." D'Souza goes on to argue, according to Wolfe, that "conservative religious believers in America should join forces with conservative religious believers in the Islamic world to combat their combat enemy: the cultural left." Such moral relativism causes Wolfe to howl:
I sense [D'Souza] is appealing to people like me because I write for The New Republic, a liberal magazine that distances itself from leftism. So let this "decent" liberal make perfectly clear how thoroughly indecent Dinesh D'Souza is. Like his hero Joe McCarthy, has no sense of shame. He is a childish thinker. . . . His book is a national disgrace. . . .

Tell us how you really feel, Alan.

And in Slate, Timothy Noah concludes that D'Souza breaks through one of Noah's customary restrictions:

Ordinarily, though, I would never equate hard-right views on these matters [gay marriage, feminism, divorce, Hollywood, etc.]—even from a Dartmouth Review alumnus—with the rantings of an Islamist terrorist. I do so now only because D'Souza has written an entire book encouraging me to do just that. He wants his fellow conservatives to embrace their inner mullah. [emphasis in original]

Hugh at Jihad Watch mourns the passing of decency at the Hoover Institution (the host to D'Souza's inner mullah), which "once had Sidney Hook and Robert Conquest as fellows." But I have to point a finger at Doubleday, whose editors have apparently has decided to fill a perceived market void in outrageous stupidity.

Contrary to the sarcastic title of my post last September, I don't believe that D'Souza really wants Americans to join forces with the Taliban. Nobody at an institution hosted on the campus of Stanford University could be this stupid (and, if he is, then he has pathological issues I can't even begin to address). Instead, I believe that D'Souza is more than happy to make a complete idiot of himself on the Colbert Show, as long as he sells some books and makes some money. You might call it "Fear Factor" syndrome, where you can become famous by acting like a repulsive imbecile. Apollo of Snarky Bastards (a self-described "religious and social conservative") perceptively and wittily notes that "D’Souza’s been possessed by the Coultergeist."

Nor do I believe that the editors at Doubleday thought this book was truly worthy of publication. Doubleday has cynically decided that publishing a Bollywood version of Ann Coulter and making a quick buck are worth far more to their corporate interests than the damage they may cause by creating divisions among Americans and inciting violence against gays, women, and whoever might be deemed a "leftist."

It's not that I'm advocating "censorship," folks. There are plenty of presses that would have been happy to publish a screed like the one penned by D'Souza--but they exist at the fringe of publishing world, along with the disgraced Judith Regan and "publisher" Tom Metzger. That Doubleday has proudly decided to join them is a disgrace to the publisher of such classy writers as Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Lethem.

Update: Confirming what D'Souza's whoredom has bought him, TBogg points to a damning San Diego Reader article that describes his "home in that gated and guarded warren of mansions called Fairbanks Ranch" with "six bedrooms, seven and a half baths, and a four-car garage, where they keep their maroon 1992 Jaguar XJS." The upkeep on such an estate alone must motivate him to plumb lower and lower depths.

Later in the article, the booty and plunder is put in raw terms:

One estimate, reported by James Warren in the Washington Monthly, says D'Souza garnered $1.5 million over ten years from the American Enterprise Institute; another estimate has him receiving $173,000 from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute to help underwrite Illiberal Education; on hundreds of campuses, he's received, as he told Booknotes, "a few thousand dollars to give the same speech, with minor variations, again and again and again"; and his books remain in print and sell healthily.

Yes, America, stupidity is a goldmine.