The “America: Imagine a World without Her” Interview
with Kam Williams
A D’Souza Lollapalooza!
Scholar, author, public intellectual and filmmaker Dinesh Joseph D’Souza was born and raised in Mumbai before coming to the U.S. in 1978 as an exchange student. He subsequently matriculated at Dartmouth where he co-founded, edited and wrote for a conservative periodical called The Dartmouth Review.
A former White House domestic policy analyst in the Reagan White House, he later served as President of The King’s College in New York City, and as a fellow at both the American Enterprise Institute and Hoover Institution. He’s also co-written and co-directed a couple of documentaries: “2016: Obama’s America” and “America: Imagine the World without Her” which is currently in theaters.
A bit of a bomb-throwing provocateur, the right-wing commentator’s controversial remarks on topics ranging from racism to feminism to colonialism have incurred the wrath of many on the left. He specifically targeted President Obama in incendiary tomes titled “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and “Obama’s America: Unmaking of the American Dream.”
Dinesh has published over a dozen books in all, most recently, “America: Imagine a World without Her,” a companion piece to the aforementioned movie. Here, he shares his concerns for the country while delineating his political philosophy..
Kam Williams: Hi Dinesh, thanks for the interview.
Dinesh D'Souza: No problem, Kam.
KW: What’s the inspiration behind America: Imagine a World without Her?
DD: Well, I’m an immigrant to the U.S., and I’ve constantly been thinking about America both from the inside and from the outside. And I’ve come to believe that we’re living at a critical time when the American Dream is in jeopardy and this American Era which began after World War II might be winding down. So, I wanted to make a strong, moral defense of the country, in both the book and the movie, against the people who have been strong critics of America.
KW: Editor Lisa Loving says: You argue that Obama is “intentionally shrinking’ the United States” presence worldwide because progressive politics argue for it, but isn’t Obama actually expanding federal government spying powers on civilians and even approving targeted assassinations of American citizens in other parts of the world? And now he is asking for $5 billion to invest in training Syrian rebel troops? That doesn’t sound like “shrinking America’s presence in the world.”
DD: Well, that question’s confusing a couple of things and muddling them together. Obama’s policies can be summarized as follows: omnipotence at home, impotence abroad. So, the federal government is expanding its powers at home over the private sector and over the lives of ordinary citizens. The NSA’s spying is part of that. Abroad, Obama’s working to undermine America’s influence and power. Now, that is consistent with his actively trying to strengthen our enemies. He has done that to some degree. If someone is trying to shrink America’s influence, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it by doing nothing. You can also be vigorous like Obama who has been very active on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts to achieve what has really been his consistent objective.
KW: Why do you think there has been little outrage in response to the expansion of the Executive powers via the NSA and IRS? If this were the Sixties, the youth would’ve taken to the streets.
DD: In the Sixties, there was a big resistance to the Vietnam War. But what accompanied it was a tendency to view all of American history cynically through the same sort of jaundiced eye, and people began reinterpreting all American history as a series of misadventures and crimes and oppressions visited upon the innocent, the poor, the defenseless, the minorities, and so on. This created a new narrative in America. Let’s call it, “America the inexcusable.” And this narrative has been drummed into the minds of our young people, not only in college, but also in elementary and secondary education. And then it spilled out into the media, the churches and mainline media where it has metastasized. What’s happened is that a whole generation of Americans has been taught that theirs is a bad country. And it’s then very difficult for them to figure out how one can one be a good citizen in a bad country. So, part of the explanation for people’s emotional paralysis is not knowing how to deal with a person like Obama. On the one hand, he is the embodiment of American exceptionalism. His story is not possible anywhere but in America. And yet he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and he doesn’t like it. If he thinks America is exceptional at all, he thinks it’s exceptionally bad, not exceptionally good.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: I have observed current college students who have no ability to verbally express an original idea or to continue a discussion based on a topic involving current events. Perhaps this generation is the "ADHD" generation and is incapable of doing more than parroting the latest tweet, I am not sure. How would you encourage young people to become more involved in lively, in-person discussions and less involved in shouting in the cloud? By that I mean, how do you encourage dialogue, discussion and actively pursuing an endeavor with other human beings present and attempting to attain tangible results instead of simply texting and emailing about current issues?
DD: Well, I do think our culture has shifted a little bit away from the contemplative more toward the visual, more toward the emotional, and more toward the expressive. I don’t think there’s a lot that can be done about that. We just have to understand that it’s the product of technology and of the way people live now. That’s one reason I make movies in addition to writing books. There’s a big audience for books, but it isn’t as large as the audience for films. Books are an intellectual experience, and films are primarily an emotional experience. Primarily. We need both, and I think the way to motivate people is to speak to them in a way that they can understand, in a way that inspires and motivates them. If you watch our America movie, you’ll see that it’s different than the kind of rhetoric you traditionally hear. It’s a film that helps you experience and feel America, and it’s a film that helps you look at American history in a new way which builds rather than undermines patriotism.
KW: Did you have any hesitations about doing another documentary, given how the feds came down on you after you criticized the President in 2016: Obama’s America? Do you think that making that movie was what got you in trouble with the IRS?
DD: In my case, it was a campaign finance law violation. It had nothing to do with the IRS. There’s no question that I’ve been a prominent critic of Obama. I know for a fact that he was upset by that film, 2016. How do I know? I know because he started railing against it on his website, www.BarackObama.com. But I’m not intimidated by the fact that people in high places are opposed to me. I work hard to earn their discomfort and perhaps even their rage. So, again, with my new film, America, the Left is already out there screaming and trying their best in their clumsy, heavy-handed way to discourage people from seeing the film. It’s not really going to work, but it’s a strategy that I fully expect and am ready for.
KW: Do you think that between the NSA and the IRS might have had an effect on the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election the way that so many conservatives who applied to create 501(c)(3) non-profits were put through the wringer?
DD: I don’t know. I do believe that the Obama administration has reached a new low by using the instruments of the state against its political adversaries. Obama does not see people who disagree with him as well-meaning opponents but rather as enemies. That’s not something that Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton did as President, and it’s certainly not something that Reagan or either Bush did. Probably Obama’s direct descendant in this line is Richard Nixon. And Obama seems to have carried Nixonian tactics to a new low. So, we’ve turned a corner in American politics that doesn’t bode well for our future.
KW: Larry Greenberg says: According to the American Enterprise Institute, the Hobby Lobby ruling won't change much and isn't very important. Do you agree?
DD: It’s hard to say. I know a little bit about the ruling, of course. The issue of religious liberty is absolutely critical. America was founded on three different types of liberty: political liberty, economic liberty, and religious and civil liberty. It’s remarkable that, one-by-one, these strands of liberty are coming under fierce attack from the Left. And that’s particularly ironic because “liberal” derives from a word which means “liberty,” the free man as opposed to the slave. This liberalism which we’re saddled with today isn’t a real liberalism at all, but a gangster style of politics masquerading as liberalism. .
KW: Cousin Leon Marquis asks: How can the Average Joe, making under $100,000 per year, survive and thrive in the new America that you envision?
DD: Well, it depends on what you mean when you say “you envision.” There’s one America that Obama wants, and there’s a very different America that I want. I want an America that is entrepreneurial, that has a strong private sector in which religious faith is respected and even nourished, in which there’s vigorous debate across the spectrum, and in which our universities teach real history instead of propaganda. That’s a very different kind of America, and they’re moving very resolutely towards their goal. Certainly the decline of America is a choice, though the outcome is not foreordained. But liberty is also a choice, and I’m doing my best to persuade the people of America to make the latter choice.
KW: Professor/Filmmaker/author Hisani Dubose says: You’re quoted at Salon.com as saying, "The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11 ... the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the non-profit sector and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world." You also said the problem with colonialism in Africa and India is that it did not last long enough. Do you not think that America's policies in Africa and Islamic countries are what have caused the "volcano of anger" toward the United States? Most of the dictators there were backed by the U.S.
DD: That question, unfortunately, is a little bit incoherent because it combined things I did say with things I didn’t say. For example, on colonialism, I don’t say it lasted too long in India. It lasted long enough there, like a couple hundred years. My point was that it lasted in Africa only for a few decades. The complaint was that the colonialists were there for too short a time to actually introduce Western values of democracy, separation of powers, and checks and balances, the kind of stuff that the Indians learned from the British which enabled India to establish a democratic society and to open universities based on the Western model which could teach people English and ultimately create the foundation for the technical explosion that is happening now. None of that development would’ve transpired in India if it hadn’t been for the colonial influence that first laid the groundwork for it. That didn’t happen in Africa where Western roots were too thinly planted. And as far as 9/11, obviously Islamic radicals were responsible for the terrorist attack. It would take a moron to blame someone else. They did it! But my point is that liberal propaganda around the world has helped to shape and encourage the idea that America is a shameless, amoral country. Islamic radicals have benefitted from that, and it has served to strengthen their recruiting efforts on the Arab street.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
DD: I’m in the process right now of reading Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1495429113/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
DD: When you look in the mirror, what do I see? I see a reflection of myself.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
DD: Standing on the balcony of my house after my grandfather died when I was very young.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
DD: I don’t cook, but my favorite dish to eat is Chicken Tikka Marsala.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Dinesh, and good luck with the book and the film.
DD: Thanks Kam. Bye-bye.
To see a trailer for America: Imagine the World without Her, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7r3Ef7Ssy8
To order a copy of the book, “America: Imagine a World without Her, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/162157203X/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20
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