by Howard Stephenson
Ten days ago a conservative intellectual from Stanford University, Dinesh D’Souza was in Utah for House Speaker Marty Stephen’s Constitutional Caucus fund-raiser and for a conference sponsored by the conservative public policy think-tank, the Sutherland Institute. D’Souza gave very provocative speeches and engaged in meaningful discussions with hundreds of Utahns. Unfortunately his message was poorly reported by the Utah media.
Consequently, today I am writing about the ideas expressed by Mr. D’Souza during his visit here and in his new book entitled, What’s So Great About America?
A former White House domestic policy analyst under the Reagan administration, D’Souza also authored what is considered by many to be the finest biography of Ronald Reagan.
While America is attacked and criticized by those within and without our country, some of whom believe the United States is the “Great Satan”, D’Souza reminds us in his latest book what is truly great about the United States. He challenges the left-wing multiculturalists who teach students in our public schools and colleges that American culture is no better than any other, and has a history of which we should be ashamed. He even challenges those on the right who claim America is “slouching towards Gomorrah.”
From an immigrant’s perspective, D’Souza defends America’s history and values as they really are. He says there is no nation in the world where the value and potential of the individual has been more fully realized. The author argues that America truly allows individuals to “write the script of their own lives.” He says this is why America is so appealing to young people throughout the world. It is why so many want to immigrate to the United States.
Born in India and now a U.S. citizen, D’Souza enumerates the blessings too many native-born Americans take for granted. D’Souza understands how rare these gifts are in the rest of the world. As an immigrant “of color,” D’Souza says: “I am constantly surprised by how much I hear racism talked about and how little I actually see it.” He points out recent dark-skinned immigrants for whom white racism does not stop them from rising in American society.
D’Souza challenges fundamentalist Islamic criticisms of the United States saying that Islam’s hatred of Western culture is founded in envy and resentment of American success created by the scientific, technological, and economic failures of the Islamic world.
“Islam was once one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in the world,” he said. It seems that now, it is easier to hate the success of Americans than to recover their own greatness.
He wrote: “[T]he fundamentalist [Muslims] are a humiliated people who are seeking to recover ancestral greatness.” He said Muslims “find it hard to come to terms with their contemporary irrelevance.” After all, when was the last time you heard of a great Islamic discovery or invention?
Challenging the “equality of all cultures” theme promoted by the multiculturalists in the United States, D’Souza showed that some cultures have completely outperformed others in providing the things that all people seek — health, food, housing, security and the amenities of life. He pointed to the “one-way movement from tribal, agrarian cultures toward modern, industrialized, American-style cultures. . Why would immigrants voluntarily uproot themselves and relocate to another society unless they were deeply convinced that, on balance, the new culture was better than the old culture?”
D’Souza said the fact that even poor people in America live comparatively well was dramatized in the 1980’s when CBS television broadcast an anti-Reagan documentary intended to show the miseries of the poor during an American recession. In an attempt to embarrass the United States, the Soviet Union also broadcast the program but it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans have television sets and microwave ovens and cars.
D’Souza said, “They arrived at the same perception of America that I witnessed in a friend of mine from Bombay who has been unsuccessfully trying to move to the United States for nearly a decade. Finally I asked him, ‘Why are you so eager to come to America?’ He replied, ‘Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.’”
“[A] free society is not simply richer, more varied, and more fun: it is also morally superior,” D’Souza said.
“America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world,” D’Souza wrote.
Dinesh D’Sousa’s message to his Utah audiences was as compelling as the message of his latest book. Unfortunately, the Utah media either didn’t agree, or they didn’t care.
Jeane Kirkpatrick once said that “Americans need to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant it is.” D’Souza’s latest book helps us all face that truth.