There are moments in The Office when something I know Steve Carell’s character is about to say or do something so cringingly stupid and awkward that I literally have to pause the video (I only watch TV online) to prepare myself. I shield my eyes and clench my body up and then when he finishes his terrifyingly ignorant act I have to recover with a long groan: “Ohhhhhhhh Goooooooodddddd Nooooooooo…”
I have to do some of the same things to survive the onslaught of stupidity that is Dinesh D’Souza.
I try to avoid writing about Dinesh D’Souza because his existence makes me despair for the human race. But writing a rant against Dinesh is just so damn easy, and all this philosophical writing I’ve been doing makes me tired. So let me shoot an apple in a barrel today.
One of the most vomit-inducing passages of D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity is this:
In sum, the death of Christianity must also mean the gradual extinction of values such as human dignity, the right against torture, and the rights of equal treatment asserted by women, minorities, and the poor. Do we want to give these up also? If we cherish the distinctive ideals of Western civilization, and believe as I do that they have enormously benefited our civilization and our world, then whatever our religious convictions, and even if we have none, we will not rashly try to hack at the religious roots from which they spring.
Dinesh thinks that only Western Christian culture has values of human dignity, a right against torture, and equal rights for women, minorities, and the poor. In one debate, Dinesh also said that Jesus invented the concept of compassion. Woah.
I see two possible explanations for this.
Perhaps Dinesh is just astonishingly ignorant and bigoted. Perhaps he has no knowledge whatever of other cultures. Perhaps he has no idea that human dignity, an aversion to torture, equal rights, and of course compassion can be found in many cultures around the world, including many that preceded Christianity (Jainism, Buddhism, etc.).
This is possible. His ignorance on other topics he claims to have studied is widely attested. For example, Dinesh claims to have studied Islam for 4 years and to have read the Qur’an, but in a debate it was revealed that he didn’t even know how the surahs of the Qur’an are arranged. If you merely skim the Qur’an or read its Wikipedia page, you notice that the surahs are arranged by length: longer ones at the front, shorter ones at the end (just like the letters of Paul in the New Testament).
He’s also one of many conservatives who apparently don’t realize The Colbert Report is satire. Appearing as a guest, D’Souza promoted his book The Enemy at Home, where he argues that liberals are responsible for 9/11.
Colbert began by asking:
I’ve been trying to figure this one out for a while. Walk me through it: How did the liberals plan 9/11?
The audience laughed, but D’Souza seems unaware it was a mocking question:
Well first of all, the liberals convinced Jimmy Carter to withdraw support for a valuable ally, the Shah of Iran… and who did we get? Komenini. Instead of a bad guy, we got the worse guy… [And] in the 1990s, the radical Muslims launched a bunch of attacks… President Clinton did absolutely nothing. Bin Laden said, ‘You know what? The United States is a bunch of corwards.’ And that’s why he says he was emboldened to strike on 9/11.
Colbert responds by parodying D’Souza’s position with an absurdity:
But is all the responsibility Carter’s and Clinton’s? Doesn’t some of it lie at FDR’s doorstep?
The audience laughs, but D’Souza takes it seriously:
Indirectly, yes, and here’s why…
The audience explodes with laughter, and Colbert says:
Okay, I can’t wait. Can I guess? Is it because we never got to see him standing up, so America doesn’t stand up for its principles?
D’Souza continues, oblivious:
FDR gave away Eastern Europe, then the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Muslims had to fight back, that’s where Bin Laden got his start.
Dinesh is also astonishingly ignorant of American history. That would be fine, except that he makes significant claims of knowledge about American history. Here’s a clip from What’s So Great About America?
Let’s begin by asking whether the white man was guilty of genocide against the native Indians. As a matter of fact, he was not…
Allan Masri responds:
His extraordinary thesis: The American Indians were wiped out by epidemics, not genocide. But even a cursory reading of American history reveals numerous genocidal events, among them
- 1637. Puritans massacre 500-600 Pequod Indians at Mystic Fort.
- 1835. 4,000 Cherokee die during forced march from Carolinas to Oklahoma known as the Trail of Tears.
- 1864. American Cavalry murders 134 at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory.
- 1868. American Cavalry murders 103 Cheyenne at Washita.
- 1890. American Cavalry murders 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee.
These events were genocidal under the definition established by the UN General Assembly resolution 260 A (III) of 9 December 1948.
Okay, so one plausible explanation for Dinesh D’Souza’s statements that Christianity invented compassion and that only Christian culture defends human dignity is that Dinesh D’Souza is stupid.
There is another possibility.
Perhaps Dinesh has visited other cultures and has read some history and he knows that Christianity didn’t invent compassion and that many cultures defend human dignity, and he is simply lying.
This also seems plausible.