Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
This is a report I wrote on the talk that Dinesh D’Souza gave at my school last night, even though you can watch the whole thing here .
In the beginning, the Assistant Dean of Students somewhat awkwardly read a speech about how it is a good thing to have this event on campus, and then she pointed out that if people wanted to be loud, they could go to the convenient protest area behind the actual lecture hall, which got some laughs. (I’m sorry if you were hoping for drama in the piece, but spoilers: There was no trouble, and to be honest I didn’t expect any. D’Souza, who also spoke at Brandeis ten years ago, expressed surprise about this at the end.)
D’Souza opened by remarking that back when he was in college, liberal views were prevalent on campuses, but conservative views were definitely visible, including among professors. Now, it’s harder to talk to people with different views, because different views are seen as a threat. D’Souza expressed doubt that many liberal college students today would be able to answer the question, “What are conservatives trying to conserve?” I would tend to agree.
Next, D’Souza said he would discuss racism and fascism, two things leftists accuse Trump of, and noted that spreading accusations of fascism is new to the Left; it just started about a year ago. In terms of racism, D’Souza gave us the sordid history of the Democrat Party, pointing out that literally all slaveowners were Democrats and it is very logically shaky to blame it all on ‘the south.’ (Here, a tangent on how liberals like to blame things on “America,” “the white man,” etc. instead of on the people who were actually responsible.) Post-bellum, the Democrats invented white supremacy. Segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, racial terrorism, and lynching were all their policies and institutions. Democrat Woodrow Wilson made the Ku Klux Klan cool again by showing Birth of a Nation in the White House in the early twentieth century. The fabled ‘Big Switch’ never happened; only one single Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond, switched parties. Obama and Clinton both eulogized former Klan member Robert Byrd. There is an idea that, after all, you had to be in the Klan in those days if you wanted to further Democrat ideals.
D’Souza pointed out the obvious fact that fascism has always come from the Left. He provided a brief history of fascism, starting with Mussolini. Mussolini grew up Marxist, but Marx turned out be wrong about many things. The working class did not get poorer. The Revolution did not come from England or from Germany, but rather from Russia, and it came in the form of overthrowing the czarist regime — not capitalism. Marx’s idea of socialism has never worked out, and in D’Souza’s opinion, never will. National Socialism to the rescue! People are much more likely to die for a nation than for an economic class, and that’s why Nazism did better than plain old Marxism.
With that history lecture over, D’Souza brought up Herbert Marcuse and his 1960’s statement, “No free speech for fascists!” The spirit of the Antifa. But the truth, according to D’Souza, is that Trump seems to want the opposite of fascism — to unleash capitalism, and detach it from the state.
Now I’ll just give you highlights from the Q & A period.
The less cringey people came first. Somebody asked a question about politicians changing their minds and what that means, and D’Souza said that all politics is a hybrid of principle and opportunism, and that isn’t a bad thing. He gave a spiel about how SSM succeeded because the Left was cleverly fighting a culture war outside of politics, and the Right was not fighting that war, and so by the time the issue entered politics, it was a fait accompli.
A fun moment a little later on was when D’Souza ended up explaining that Trump does not want to deport immigrants. Illegals are not immigrants, and they do not have constitutional rights.
The really cringey guy came up next. I’ll paraphrase: “You think that Democrats are less moral than Republicans but the Democrats say that they care about climate change!” D’Souza expressed an opinion that climate change seems like theism to him: there is not really empirical evidence that we can all see and thus conclude, yes, it exists. The student’s response, which just sort of went on for a while, immediately reminded me of Pascal’s Wager. So that was funny to me because it seemed to prove the point D’Souza had just made. (You all can watch this segment at 1:21:00 in the video I linked at the beginning, if you want to subject yourselves to it.) D’Souza also talked about how he comes from a third world country and they would love to have things that climate change activists think is bad, such as oil, so that they can become a second world country. No one talks about climate change in India. (My libertarian environmentalist friend was interested to hear that conservatives as well as liberals make the argument that environmentalism is for privileged people.)
We finally got around to the female students, and of course they wanted to know about women’s rights. (Reminded me of Brandeis Conservatives meetings; hard to find a woman who really wants to talk politics. I admit that I find it a little embarrassing.) D’Souza said that abortion is not a constitutional right, and even if it was, why should it be subsidized when our other rights, e.g. our second amendment rights, are not? (The student to whom he was saying this shook her head.) He also ended up explaining Roe v Wade and why he thinks it would be a good idea to overturn that decision.
All in all it was an interesting event with a good sized, ideologically diverse turnout, and everyone was courteous. So good for Brandeis, and thank you to Dinesh D’Souza and Young America’s Foundation for the privilege.