- A convicted felon pardoned by President Trump, the far-right polemicist, described by a critic as “inexcusably moronic,” seeks to regain his standing as an agent provocateur.
Dinesh D’Souza, the bête noire of the Democratic Party, is set to release the DVD of his new “documentary” titled “Trump Card” on October 6. The film, which had its theatrical opening last month, is being advertised as “an exposé of the socialism, corruption and gangsterization that now define the Democratic Party.” This is his third film in the last three presidential election cycles. Rest assured it can be expected to have a venomous and bile-spewing narrative of the Democratic Party and its leadership, as did his 2012 film, “2016: Obama’s America” and “Hillary’s America” in 2016.
Conservative political commentator, far-right provocateur, conspiracy theorist, the best-selling author and documentarian and hero of the right, D’Souza has set out this election season making waves with his recent statements defending President Trump and attacking Vice Presidential candidate and fellow Indian American, Kamala Harris.
D’Souza, who has spent almost four decades in a cycle of provocation and controversy, recently made an appearance on Fox News to argue that Kamala Harris shouldn’t be considered African-American in the true sense of what it means – having a direct relation to slavery and segregation — because she’s from the “legacy of one of the largest slave owners in Jamaica.” This he said was stated by Harris’ father Donald Harris, a Stanford professor, who wrote an article in a Jamaican magazine “boasting” of his being descended from one the largest slave owners in Jamaica – Hamilton Brown.
Harris has been criticized for being too much of a centrist while young Democratic voters are looking for more progressive representation and even for being a pro–law enforcement attorney general whose views don’t align with more progressive abolitionist views of the police. But to go after Harris’ Blackness, because unlike many Black Americans – her ancestors might have been slave owners – a factor out of her control — is ludicrous.
Originally from Mumbai, D’Souza, who made his name in the 1990s fighting campus political correctness, once had a reputation as a middlebrow conservative provocateur. It was not till the Obama years that he, like Trump, became a full-fledged conspiracy theorist, accusing Obama of spearheading a third-world scheme to subvert America.
D’Souza is perhaps best known for his attacks on Barack Obama, first in 2010 with his book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and then in 2012 with a documentary based on the book. The book argued that Obama was carrying out the anticolonial agenda of his Kenyan father. A frequent guest on Fox News and conservative radio, D’Souza often singled out Obama for criticism. A 2010 Forbes cover story that discredited Obama’s American identity was criticized vehemently by an editor of the Columbia Journalism review as “the worst kind of smear journalism.”
According to The Week, in 2010, D’Souza penned an infamous Forbes cover story purporting to offer insight, as its title put it, into “How Obama Thinks.” He argued that Barack Obama was governing the U.S. according to the agenda of his father, a “philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions.” The piece was broadly panned, with Columbia Journalism Review dubbing it “a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia” and The American Conservative calling it “painful,” “inexcusably moronic,” and “simply stupid.”
D’Souza’s film, “2016: Obama’s America,” was one of the highest-grossing political documentaries of all time. He has repeatedly questioned Obama’s place of birth even after birther-in-chief Donald Trump dropped the issue, by tweeting (2017), “I was never a birther but what’s racist about asking where the son of a Kenyan foreign student visitor to America was actually born?”
D’Souza has also released a few other documentaries including “Hillary’s America” (an extended argument against the Democratic Party) and “Death of a Nation,” which features white nationalist Richard Spencer, and compares Trump to Abraham Lincoln and Democrats to Nazis. In fact, Donald Trump Jr. co-hosted the 2018 premiere of “Death of a Nation.”
Variety critic Owen Gleiberman in his criticism of Death of a Nation said, “Dinesh D’Souza is no longer preaching to the choir; he’s preaching to the mentally unsound!”
His books and movies attacking liberal ideologies and politicians have had great commercial success, but he has promoted conspiracy theories and his work has been criticized as inaccurate and excessively incendiary, sometimes by other conservatives.
And even though, conservative intellectuals rejected D’Souza’s conspiratorial thinking, he found a home among some prominent Republicans—like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who referenced D’Souza during his presidential run.
His new film “Trump Card” will be available on demand and DVD on October 9. Whether it is the creeping socialism of Joe Biden or the overt socialism of Bernie Sanders, the film reveals what is unique about modern socialism, who is behind it, why it’s evil, and how we can work together with President Trump to stop it.”
Known to stir the proverbial pot, in 2014, D’Souza has even sullied social rights activist Rosa Parks, when he tweeted, “So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus–that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss?
However, few have enjoyed quite so spectacular a comeback under President Trump than D’Souza. A Dartmouth graduate, in 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty to a felony conviction of recruiting straw donors who gave $10,000 each to an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, of New York. He routed the donations through his mistress and her husband. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sentenced him to eight months in a “work release center,” five years of probation, a fine of $30,000 and to perform “community service.” He was required to submit to “psychological counseling.”
D’Souza was prosecuted by the former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara. D’Souza, who like Bharara is an Indian-American, gloated on Twitter after his pardon that Bharara “Wanted to destroy a fellow Indian-American to advance his career. Then he got fired and I got pardoned.”
But with President Trump pardoning him on May 31, 2018, D’Souza is finally being welcomed back into the conservative mainstream, as a pioneer of the kind of politics President Trump has brought to the national stage.
In a New York Times article by Michelle Goldberg, she points out that Trump’s action, a clear abuse of his pardoning power for political ends, serves several purposes. Most seriously, the D’Souza pardon, like those of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and the former Dick Cheney aide, Scooter Libby, is a message to Trump confederates facing legal trouble. It says that if they stay strong, he’ll take care of them.
As if to place him in context, Goldberg describes how in his book “Obama’s America,” D’Souza indulges in despicable speculations about the sex life of the president’s mother and anthropologist Stanley Ann Dunham — “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” wrote D’Souza. He described her as a “playgirl” who used “her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”
In the Trump era, D’Souza’s become even bolder. He mocked survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who cried after the Florida Legislature voted down an assault weapons ban, tweeting, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” He later apologized for his comment.
While liberals are obviously apoplectic about everything D’Souza, he has his share of admirers. Notable among them is Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Bravo! Dinesh was the subject of a political persecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration because of his political views. And he’s a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left – which is why they hate him. This is justice, “Cruz wrote on Twitter (2018) in support of the pardon.
D’Souza attended Dartmouth College and was among the first editors of The Dartmouth Review, a conservative campus newspaper. The publication is said to have stirred uproars on campus during and after his term as editor.
After graduating from Dartmouth, D’Souza moved to Princeton, New Jersey, to edit a small magazine called Prospect, which targeted Princeton students and was overseen by a conservative alumni group, Concerned Alumni for Princeton, that counted future Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito among its members. D’Souza’s most infamous article at Prospect concerned a freshman whose mother had stopped paying tuition upon discovering her daughter was having sex with a fellow student. D’Souza was outraged that Princeton offered the student financial aid after her mother stopped supporting her. Students reacted poorly to the violation of their classmate’s privacy, organizing a petition condemning D’Souza.
From Prospect, D’Souza moved to the magazine Policy Review, then affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, and from there to the Reagan administration. He opted to go to AEI rather than join the George H. W. Bush administration, and started writing his most successful books there before leaving for the Hoover Institution in 2001, where he remained until 2007. He was also president of The King’s College, a small evangelical school in Manhattan, from 2010 to 2012.
And like many immigrants, he wears his heart on his sleeve for his new country. The recurrent theme of his books and articles is that America is “the exceptional nation.”
D’Souza has been provoking people for provocation’s sake since he published an interview with a Klan member accompanied by a doctored photo of a black classmate being lynched. As he admits in one of his tweets (2014), “I love it when my tweets score a direct hit, measured by the intensity of shrieking on the left.”
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.