Credit where due: D’Souza’s insight

Dinesh D’Souza on his destruction by his fellow theocrats: “viciousness masquerading as righteousness.” A perfect capsule description of the entire Christian right.

The whole point of having a tzaddik as a friend is that he helps you raise your standards about your own behavior, so I’m going to try to imitate some of Harold’s charity toward Dinesh D’Souza.

D’Souza’s personal life in no way detracts from the accuracy of his political observation. For example, when he summarizes his destruction at the hands of some of some of his fellow theocrats as “viciousness masquerading as righteousness” he is definitely Saying the Thing that Is, and deserves to be admired for insight as well as literary flair.

Footnote Anyone who thinks that the same phrase would also be a fair summary of D’Souza’s entire career is simply not Playing the Game, and should be ashamed of himself.


In response to comments:

1. Yes, this was snark, and piling on (unlike Harold’s original post, which was sincere as well as wise). The better part of me doesn’t really want D’Souza to suffer, but all of me wants his side to lose, and if in helping his side lose as much as possible from this incident I add a bit to his suffering I comfort myself by thinking how much more people who deserved it less have suffered at D’Souza’s hands.

2. As Keith points out, D’Souza’s smarmy and self-righteous response to the original accusation is also full of somewhat exonerating factual claims, some of them independently checkable: that D’Souza’s wife had dumped him two years earlier (as opposed to the suggestion that he’d behaved like Gingrich or McCain, trading in the old wife on a newer, fancier model); that he and his new betrothed had not in fact shared a hotel room; that the reporter and publisher both had undisclosed conflicts that made them hostile to D’Souza. The World’s smarmy and self-righteous celebration of D’Souza’s firing does not mention those factual claims, let alone respond to them. If I had to be on who is keeping closer to the truth (which of course need not be very close) I think I’d put my money on D’Souza.

The facts that there are many true bad things to say about D’Souza and that D’Souza has said many false bad things about others throughout his career are not inconsistent with the possibility that in this case a fellow Bad Person has said a false bad thing about D’Souza himself. And I stand (sincerely, rather than snarkily) ready to cheer him on – and even help him out, if I saw a way to do so – in the project of taking down Marvin Olasky and The World

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

34 thoughts on “Credit where due: D’Souza’s insight”

  1. I confess to not being deeply interested in l’affaire D’Souza but what does occur to me from scanning the stories is that he may not actually have done what he is accused of doing (independent of whether one considers his behavior immoral).

    1. I recall thinking, when I heard of the success of his movie, “Ugly looking scandal in 3, 2, 1…”

      Not terribly interested in the movie or the scandal, but the one made the other almost inevitable in today’s political culture.

      1. The only sense in which this paranoid fantasy connects to reality is that D’Souza was self-evidently a grifter, greedily soaking up huge amounts of money with no ethics in his professional life, and his personal life was never likely to be any cleaner. With his profile raised by his recent success, his flaws became a marketable target in a way they hadn’t been when fewer people were aware he existed. Especially since some of the people taking aim of him are equally corrupt folks who don’t want him competiting with them when it comes to those massive amounts D’Souza and they grift for …

    2. Hoo-boy. If D’Souza is telling the truth this time, then he really ought to be trading in his divorce lawyers for defamation-suit lawyers.

      Yeah, libel and defamation claims are hard to win, but only because the damning speech is usually ambiguous, and the damages are hard to quantify. Well, D’Souza is saying that these are malicious and disprovable lies, and they cost him a million-dollar-a-year job.

      What of it, D’Souza? Are you going to take this lying down, albeit in a bed in an entirely different room from the one your ex-fiancée is in? I imagine that if I, a weak-willed feminized librul “man,” had lost my million-dollar-a-year job on account of someone spreading lies about me, I’d be thinking about “Second Amendment” solutions right about now. Surely you’re made of even sterner stuff?

  2. This is a request for any insight into a phenomenon I have seen repeatedly but noticed especially today. I was getting supplies at Costco and noticed that their display of books not only had Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book but also several other right wing books, such as the newest offerings by Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Bill O’Reilly, and others from publishers such as Regnery. Several books highly hostile to Obama, but not so much as a single copy of even a neutral, much less a friendly Obama-related book.

    I conjecture that this could happen if big box stores are given mountains of right wing books practically free, so that they can offer them at a steep “discount” from the retail price and still make money from each sale. This could happen if the Koch brothers or other wealthy donors underwrite the cost of distribution, but I am not at all sure that this is what is happening.

    I did place a note in the suggestion box informing them that not all Costco members hate Barack Obama or belong to the tea party. It could be that members of these stores are overwhelmingly right-wing, but I would have to be given good data in order to regard this as likely. Something else seems to be happening here.

    Of note: I did not see a single book about Mitt Romney, favorable or otherwise. Only anti-Obama books made the cut.

    1. I suspect that the answer to this question is economic and demographic rather than ideological. Relative to many other retailers Costco does treat its employees well. On the other hand, I always feel out of place shopping there. The customers strike me as small proprietors and scary rednecks. Just stereotyping here. Rarely, I see an acquaintance from my tech career. In Massachusetts this is a bi-polar population comprised of leftish Democrats and libertarians.

    2. A further thought on demographics. I rarely think to look at books in Costco. I think many of their customers rarely go into bookstores.

    3. I agree that that must be just your Costco. Here in LA, you see *every* walk of life at the Costco. Only an idiot would pay retail when you can support good jobs, get samples, and pay a lot less. (Then again, it can get crowded. Go during the week.)

      And the Costco magazine, which you can read online, is quite fair and balanced (really! They do a pro/con on a social issue every issue.)

      I don’t know who buys the books. I have quibbles with whoever buys the women’s apparel, but I’m not ready to call it a conspiracy.

      1. Just to be clear, I meant the book buyer for the store, not the regular people. I see a lot of cook books and so on when I’m there. Lots of middle of the road stuff. I have not focused on the current events stuff.

      2. I’m also in (near to) LA, and gave up my Costco membership – the visits were fun, with the samples and all, and the quality was good, but the line to check out was no fun, and with LA’s absurd profusion of supermarkets (there are something like a dozen differently branded full-size supermarkets within five miles of me, all with their own weekly specials), with a little planning I can easily beat Costco’s prices without the membership fee or the crowds, and buying in more modest quantities.

        As service-industry goes Costco is famous for being a responsible employer with decent policies. I’m sure if they hawk those right-wing books in some stores (and I think I saw some in LA-area stores, when I was a member) it’s for the same reason they sell other books: they can get them cheaply in bulk and can expect them to sell at a fair clip.

  3. I’ve always liked a maxim of Molly Ivins’s: My momma may have raised a mean child, but she didn’t raise a hypocrite. I have no problem in rejoicing in the defenestration of D’Souza, as I am sure that if the situation were reversed he would do the same, in the most self-aggrandizing manner possible, and for personal profit to boot.

    I will add, though: one of the commenters in Pollock’s thread on the subject rather nailed you both. Your threads in which you loftily deny any interest in discussing the transgressions of D’Souza are threads discussing the transgressions of D’Souza. If that wasn’t your goal, you should have avoided the subject entirely, or created very different posts. This is especially true of your post: your snarky and bitingly accurate observation that D’Souza’s denunciation of his detractors could accurately be used to describe his entire public career was quite good, but if you didn’t want to pile on you shouldn’t have made it. I’m glad you did, but I have no problem with piling on.

    1. Treat others as you want them to treat you, Warren.

      Or, in Mark Twain’s version, “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

      1. I always liked the iterated prisoner’s dilemma instead; it teaches you begin with a generous assessment of your fellow man, but to be ready to change your mind and be vindictive about people who’ve shown they deserve no better. Also, to be ready to be generous again if they show signs of redemption.

        You will note that even in your Twain quote, old Samuel doesn’t advise that you blissfully burble inanely positive assessments or that you must be kind without measure, just that you should do the right thing – you should be fair. I see no reason to think that vindictive pleasure in the tribulations of Mr. D’Souza is less than fair.

        1. Re: iterated prisoner……..Wow…..I’ve never seen it put more clearly than that. A great motto for life.

        2. I wasn’t suggesting that anyone publish positive assessments of D’Souza. I am suggesting that taking public delight (schadenfreude, if you prefer) is unseemly.

          Personally, there isn’t much I’d do for D’Souza myself. His screeds have long since exhausted my tolerance, and he would have to show some serious signs of having learned something from this before I would be willing to do much of anything. But I won’t kick him when he is down. I know it’s a crappy strategy for a street fight, but this isn’t a street fight.

  4. Of course I was piling on; the whole thing was sarcastic. See “Footnote.”
    Harold, on the other hand, was not piling on; he was calling (virtually alone on either side of the aisle) for decent treatment for a suffering fellow-mortal. Harold’s piece is a sermon against the twisted, evil desire that bad people suffer.

    1. I sure am glad Dante didn’t listen to the Harolds of his time, and instead gleefully tossed into boiling feces the D’Souza’s of his time…

  5. But no mea culpa, from Dinesh about divorce. I thought evangelists were opposed to divorce on all grounds, unless there were special circumstances (I suppose meeting a hot blonde, half your age, qualifies for some). D’ Souza’s most recurring bugbear (up to now,) is that traditional marriage is under attack in the US, by the usual suspects, a growing secular culture, blah blah. D’Souza has made a nice living railing against liberals, and what he sees as their fueling of rising divorce rates and their condoniing of gay marraige but D’ Souza’s behavior or situation, illustrates the real reality of divorce in America, traditional marriage is under attack more from born again evangelists like D’Souza, than liberals led by Obama, son of “a philandeering inebriated African socialist”, as De Souza famously called his father.

    The Barna Research Group, an evangelical Christian organization that does surveys and research to better understand what Christians believe and how they behave, studied divorce rates in America in 1999 and found surprising evidence that divorce is far lower among atheists and (liberal or mainstream Protestants) than among conservative Christians – exactly the opposite of what they were probably expecting-.

    27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce
    24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced
    21% of atheists have been divorced
    21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced–

    If marriage is in any danger in America, perhaps the threat comes from the unstable marriages of religious conservatives (like Newt or Dinesh), not the relationships of gays or the marriages of godless atheists.

    Sounds like the successful script for a nice, non-fiction documentary film.

      1. Weird study — the proportion of a group who have been divorced doesn’t mean anything without knowing the proportions who get married in the first place and for how long. If these groups all get married at the same rate and at the same age, these data are informative, but if not, not.

        1. and do the numbers surveyed make the 6% gap between top and bottom classes statistically significant?

    1. Again, the marginal rates aren’t really relevant to anything.

      What is needed (and unavailable) is a study that samples marriages and examines their current status. Then we have a measure of what fraction of Four-Square marriages end in divorce, vs. what fraction of non-secular marriages end in divorce.

      Because the marriage and divorce may take place in different jurisdictions, a retrospective study would be very difficult to perform. Finding funding for a prospective study would be difficult.

  6. I strong recommend that anyone feeling a twinge of sympathy for Dinesh go and watch his awful film about Barack Obama all the way through. I have little doubt you will be vastly challenged to do so.

  7. Here’s hoping the next chapter in D’Souza’s story is titled “And Then a Light Came On”.

  8. probably a red one. He once told Stephen Colbert that he shared Islamic militants’ hostile view of liberal American decadence, and we all remember where the 9/11 hijackers spent their last night, before going off to paradise.

      1. I believe Steve Crickmore’s comment is an exaggerated version of reports that some of the 9/11 hijackers visited “gentlemens’ clubs” and had lap dances while they were in the US before the attack. I say “exaggerated” because I don’t think it was all 19 of them, and I don’t think a claim that it happened on “their last night” before the attacks would be correct.

  9. Yes, I was likely exaggerating to make my point, but the spirit wasn’t far wrong. I believe I’m much closer to the truth than the vicious nonsense D’Souza is serving up. Here is his interview with Colbert.

    D’Souza: Symbolically, it might be useful, but look: here is the point. The point I’m trying to make is that there is an America, a traditional America and also a liberal America. Very often, the only America that the Muslims see is “blue” America: they see the America of gay marriage, they see the America of people eating maggots, they see one side of America. They don’t see —

    Colbert: Why do gay people love maggots so much, is my question for you. Because I’ve never been to a gay wedding, but I assume it’s on the buffet.

    D’Souza: I don’t know everything about the gay lifestyle, but…

    Colbert: No, no, I mean, I agree with you: there are some good ideas these guys have. This is what you’re saying, that there are some parts of our culture that are corrosive, and you agree with some of the things that they’re saying.

    D’Souza: I’m saying that —

    Colbert: No, you have the courage to say that, right? That you agree with some of the things these radical extremists are against in America. Do you agree with that statement? Just do you agree with that statement?

    D’Souza: I agree with it. But

    1. I like the quote in the Telegraph story you link: “But he wasn’t just a bad tipper – he killed people.”

  10. The mercy that was quick in us but late,
    By your own counsel is suppress’d and kill’d:
    You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy;
    For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,
    As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.

    Yeah, as with Hank Cinq toward Cambridge, Shroop and Grey, I’m not feeling the whole mercy thing too acutely…..

  11. D’Souza had enough sense of propriety not to share a room with Joseph at a Christian conference. And when he was asked directly if he was having an affair with her, he had enough respect for accuracy to dodge the question rather than tell a lie.

    From The Daily Beast:
    In the Fox News column, D’Souza categorically denied having sex with Joseph, and claimed he only met her three months ago. But when asked directly if he was having an affair by Christianity Today’s Melissa Steffan, he turned evasive. “It’s absolutely not the case, um, that, um, that, um, um, you know, it’s…. Look, the issue here is that World is attributing to me an admission that I never made—is attributing to me a quotation that I never said.”

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