Enemy of the state

Today the Washington Post has given Dinesh D’Souza a forum to defend his recent book from the near universal chorus of devastating criticisms (many of which concern obvious and colossal errors of fact). But D’Souza doesn’t have the faintest idea how to defend himself, because he does not appreciate or perhaps understand the nature of rational criticism. Sure, much of the criticism was put forward in harsh tones, but that shouldn’t distract D’Souza, a “scholar” at the Hoover Institution, from addressing its content. As he winds up his lengthy apologia pro sterco suo he writes:

>All my arguments can be disputed, but they are neither extreme nor absurd. So why has “The Enemy at Home” been so intemperately excoriated? I can imagine only two reasons. The first is given by James Wolcott himself. I am not, as he says, an unqualified right-wing hack. Rather, I am a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, so Wolcott fears that I will be taken seriously.

When I read the reviews in the New York Times and the Post (Wolcott, as far as I know, hasn’t written a review of the book), I was struck by the arguments of the reviewers. They pointed out that D’Souza’s history was hallucinatory and his logic specious. Those are criticisms relating to the book’s content. But the best D’Souza can do here is attempt to divine the psychological motives of the reviewers. There’s no need at all for that. They have told you that your book is “a national disgrace”.

The second of D’Souza’s conclusion is even more delusional:

>The second reason can be gleaned from the common theme in the reviews: that mine is a dangerous book. But if a book says things that are obviously untrue and can be disproved, then it is not dangerous — it is merely fiction and should be ignored. A book is dangerous only if it exposes something in the culture that some people are eager to keep hidden.

Yours is a dangerous book, dear fellow, because–according to the reviews mind you (the content of which you seem to have ignored)–it has asserted many falsehoods and made appalling arguments. It has lowered the level of the national discussion and emboldened the enemies of civil discourse.


James Wolcott did read the book in galley form (click here for the review). Thanks to Vagabond Scholar for the tip.

5 thoughts on “Enemy of the state”

  1. Nicely put. It was hard to read a single paragraph (or sentence) in the D’Souza piece without a refutation, often obvious, coming to mind. I was starting to lose count of the straw men alone.

    Wolcott did read a copy of the book in galley form. I think D’Souza is responding to this post:


    I’d be surprised if Wolcott didn’t respond to D’Souza’s piece. However D’Souza doesn’t respond to the substance of Wolcott’s criticism, either, making him at least consistent in that regard.

    D’Souza misreads the reaction to his position as a Hoover scholar as roughly “his views must have merit, then” when the pretty explicit reaction has been “his views have little to no merit,” as shown by A, B, C and D, which instead raises questions about Hoover’s standards.

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