Reyna-Lovelace: A History of Controversy
The offensive remarks and actions made by Dinesh D’Souza ’83 are so numerous that I can only begin to break down a few of his most egregious ones.| 2/26/19 2:05am
The offensive remarks and actions made by Dinesh D’Souza ’83 are so numerous that I can only begin to break down a few of his most egregious ones. I feel it is important to do so because many of D’Souza’s supporters seemed baffled that anyone would dare to claim he is a racist or a homophobe, even though his ideology is deeply rooted in provoking outrage with his offensive remarks. D’Souza proudly makes his shocking comments on his social media platforms and in his books, such as “Letters to a Young Conservative,” which I will be referencing throughout this piece. It appears that D’Souza is thrilled to capitalize off of controversial and hateful stances in order to gain more attention and followers. Perhaps I am feeding into his desires by putting the spotlight on him in this piece, but nonetheless I find it important not to let his dark past fade away from the public eye.
First, let’s break down D’Souza’s racist history. His anti-Blackness can be traced all the way back to his days as a Dartmouth student and editor for The Dartmouth Review, when he allowed racist articles such as a casual interview with a Ku Klux Klan leader and an article against affirmative action, which inappropriately used a bad impression of African-American Vernacular English, to be published.
More recently, in his book “Letters to a Young Conservative,” D’Souza claimed that the civil rights movement and other progressive movements have destroyed the Black community, that there is a “widespread suspicion” that Black people are intellectually inferior and that affirmative action is like “Special Olympics for African Americans” — which again supports the idea that Black people are intellectually inferior. This is a disturbing way to look at the Black community and the need for affirmative action — is it not possible that the fact that Black people have been discriminated against in practice and in law for hundreds of years has prevented many Black people from having easy access to good schools and higher education?
Even more recently, D’Souza has claimed that Rosa Parks’ work is “absurdly inflated,” and he has referred to President Barack Obama as “ghetto,” an “African socialist” (implying he was not born in America) and a “grown-up Trayvon [Martin].” All of these statements were made no doubt because D’Souza understood the nasty racial connotations behind these words and wanted to stir up anti-Black feelings.
While D’Souza mainly sticks to attacking the Black community, his racist comments don’t stop there. In his book he also discusses an “escapade” he pulled at Dartmouth, in which he went to great lengths to support the “Dartmouth Indian” mascot, an offensive caricature of a Native American man that has been widely denounced by activists and many in the Native American community at Dartmouth.
In order to pull off these so-called stunts and make these offensive claims, D’Souza hides behind what he refers to as “ethnic immunity” when it comes to talking about race. Because he is a person of color born in India, he feels he can boldly state anything he wants about Black people, Native Americans and others. In fact, in a recent Tweet, he implied that he is not a racist simply because he is a person of color. I hate to be the one to have to break it to anyone who thinks being a person of color is a pass to be a racist — but it’s not.
D’Souza also has a long-standing history of attacking the LGBT community. In “Letters to a Young Conservative,” he dedicates a chapter against gay marriage, stating, “It does not appear that very many gays want to marry. The reason for this seems fairly obvious: marriage could put a serious crimp in the promiscuous lifestyle of many male homosexuals.” In the same chapter, D’Souza implies that there is a comparison between homosexuality and bestiality. He recalls how while at Dartmouth, he attempted to create a college-sponsored club for bestiality. When Dartmouth administrators rejected his proposal, he gave a spiel about how his bestiality club was similar to the Gay Students Association, claiming that “people of our particular sexual orientation [who practice bestiality]” have experienced “centuries of discrimination.” The fact that D’Souza draws this comparison between homosexuality and bestiality is, to say the least, disgusting. There really is no comparison to be made between adults having consensual and romantic relationships and the heinous act of a human violating an animal. It is interesting to see someone who claims to be tolerant, loving and Christian bash gay people for who they are and advocate for them to be oppressed. As a Christian myself, you are supposed to love your neighbor — not judge them or punish them as if you are God. It seems that D’Souza disagrees.
But of course, doing something as outrageous as comparing homosexuality to bestiality plays perfectly into D’Souza’s pattern of purposefully attacking marginalized communities in order to draw attention to himself. D’Souza is reminiscent of students in class who are so eager to be heard that they will always play the devil’s advocate, even if what they are saying is absurd or hateful. However, unlike a student making a comment in a classroom, D’Souza has hundreds of thousands of people following him on social media and buying his books. D’Souza throws out his outrageous comments with no regard for the fact that they can actually hurt people. One example of this is when in 1981 he decided to include the names of members of the Gay Student Association in a public article without their permission. Such an act is not one of a “tolerant” person or something a Christian would be proud of. But D’Souza did it anyway, effectively outing the students to the Dartmouth community and even to their family members who did not know about their sexuality before the article was published. This resulted in one of the students contemplating suicide from the shame and harassment in the aftermath of this event.
While outing gay students in the ’80s was already horrifying at the time, D’Souza’s audience has only grown larger since his ability to harm people with his hateful actions has only grown stronger. Back in the 80’s, the only people reading his work were a handful of conservative Dartmouth students, but now he influences millions of people through his massive Twitter following, his Fox News viewers and his book purchasers. I shudder at the thought that if he pulled this kind of a stunt today, the pain he would cause would be magnified simply due to the sheer number of people who follow him.
While D’Souza may get a nice laugh out of the outrage that his words and actions cause, there is nothing to laugh about. There is nothing funny about provoking racial tension or homophobia to make yourself famous or sign book deals. It says a lot about the Dartmouth College Republicans that this is the man they chose to come speak about their ideals and values. Perhaps next time they should stop beating around the bush and just invite David Duke.
Lovelace is a member of the Class of 2021.