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Thursday night, Dinesh D’Souza was in town to meet with the local Young America’s Foundation group and give a talk at the State University of New York at Buffalo. It was free and open to the public, so my wife and I went. His talk was streamed live and can be viewed on YouTube:
Before I get to the talk, a couple of words on UB, where my wife and I met as graduate students thirty-some years ago. I hadn’t walked around the campus in years, and the changes were amazing. It has probably 50 percent more buildings than when I was there and the amenities for students are stunning. New dorms that are like nice condos, food courts, recreational facilities. I saw a CVS drug store and a UPS store. There was no retail when I was there other than the bookstore, which is now a Barnes and Noble. The complaint then was that UB was isolated, but now it’s more like a little town unto itself.
It was pleasant to walk around there. One thing I noticed – this is something I look for – was that whenever we followed students through a door, they always looked back to see if anyone was behind them and held the door for a moment so we could grab it. It’s a small thing but I think it’s a good sign. The student life center, where the talk was, had an office for veterans and I saw a student walk by in uniform without anyone bothering him.
There were no protests, which was almost disappointing. Someone at the talk said that posters had been torn down and defaced, so I guess there was some opposition. A couple of people who asked questions clearly disagreed with D’Souza and disliked him, but they got to ask their question and he answered them without incident, which is how it should be.
In fact, before the talk they showed a video from the University President and others about the importance of giving everyone a respectful hearing and not disrupting events. The video included a member of the College Republicans and in one shot a Make America Great Again poster could be seen in the background. One girl said that diversity was not just about race but about who you are and what you believe, or words to that effect. I think the video was well done and I was glad to see that they show it (I hope they do so before all events and not just conservative ones).
D’Souza’s talk was well done – I imagine he’s given enough of these that he can talk for an hour without much in the way of notes or preparation. He took questions for about a half-hour. I thought he was less successful in fielding the questions, not always addressing the question that was asked.
He had one way of talking about income inequality that I’m going to remember and use if I get a chance. He said to imagine that there were 100 people with $100 each, and one of those people was J.K. Rowling. She has a book that everyone wants to read so everyone buys a copy for $10. Now you have 99 people with $90 each and one person with $1090. It’s now very unequal, but is it unjust? No one was robbed. This was a series of voluntary transactions because one person had something the others wanted to acquire. Some people get rich for good reason. I thought that was a good way to put it.
He also said that he has another movie and book in the works, which should be out next year.
It was nice event and I’m glad we went. It wasn’t a big crowd – a little over 100 people, but it was a cheerful group.