In connection with the release of his new book “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” we conducted an interview with bestselling conservative author, filmmaker and recent Real News guest, Dinesh D’Souza.
In the interview, we covered such topics as the left’s disingenuous championing of the “little guy,” the twisted historical narrative being taught in schools today, illegal immigration, the man who shaped the dastardly tactics of both the current…and if the left gets their way, future president, D’Souza’s upcoming movie and much more.
The transcript of our interview, conducted via phone, can be found below. The interview has been modified for clarity and links.
In your book, you take on the left on their own terms, focusing on those at the bottom of society, or as the left describes it, looking at “history from below.” Why did you choose to go that route?
[sharequote align=”center”]”I’m willing to argue that the left is actually attacking ordinary people.”[/sharequote]
D’Souza: The left is very successful at appealing to the principle of justice, and justice for the man lowest down. Sometimes, as conservatives, we miss the force of that. We reply by chanting “Liberty!” But we have to remember that justice is a key principle. Right, the Pledge of Allegiance: “With liberty and justice for all.” So we can’t ignore justice, and what I do in the book and film is to engage the left on its own terms. I go “Ok, let’s really look at whether or not America has been good for the common man.” Forget about the rich guy, he’s going to do well everywhere. Let’s judge a society by the kind of life it makes available to the ordinary fellow. So I’m willing to argue that the left is actually attacking ordinary people.
Let me give an example of what I mean. The left says that the wealth of America is stolen. So here’s the first question: Who stole it? Was it the one percent? Now if we look at American history, who are the people who moved West and displaced the Indians? The immigrants. Who are the people who benefited from slavery? Well everybody who bought a cotton shirt. Who are the people who defeated the Mexicans in the Mexican War? Ordinary immigrants and settlers.
So the point is that the critique of America is not one that is aimed at wealthy aristocrats who had beautiful cottages or mansions on the East Coast. The progressive critique is an attack on the immigrants themselves – it’s an attack on people like me. And so, what I’m doing here is making a defense of the ordinary American against these malicious charges that are leveled by the left, which are untrue and the prelude to shaking us down economically.
You frame that thesis, ironically enough, around two Frenchmen, Alexis de Tocqueville and Michel Foucault. Can you expound upon the dichotomy represented by these two men — and the “spirit of 1776” versus that of 1968?
D’Souza: Yeah, we see the “spirit of 1776” and 1968 by looking at two French guys, both of whom came to America at very different times. Tocqueville came in the early 19th century, and what he saw was the American founding principles in action, basically half a century after they had been put into effect. And what Tocqueville noticed was that America was a very entrepreneurial society, America was a society where people rely very little on the government, and America is a society deeply infused with Christian values. So Tocqueville saw, if you will, conservative America. Now, fast-forward 150 years when Michel Foucault came to America in the 1970s. And what he liked about America – he, like Tocqueville, grew to love America — but he loved America because he saw America as a mecca of gay liberation. The things that Tocqueville saw about America, like its entrepreneurship or its Christianity, Foucault hated. He hated that America. But what he liked is a different America, that he saw in the Castro district of San Francisco, which he called “laboratories of sexual experimentation.” So these are really two different Americas. In Foucault, you get just a glimpse of a different kind of America that progressives might prefer to the principles of 1776.
In moving from the 1776 ethos to that of 1968, you speak to Saul Alinsky’s playbook. And one of the things you say, and something that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, is that Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” effectively are derived from the same playbook as that of the devil, which kind of explains why he dedicated “Rules for Radicals” to Satan. Can you expound upon that?
D’Souza: Well, something strange is going on here because Alinsky was obviously not a Christian; in fact, he was an atheist. So why would an atheist dedicate a book to Lucifer? I think to discover the answer, you have to pay careful attention to what Lucifer represents in the Western tradition. So I did a close reading of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” and you begin to see how Lucifer operates. First of all, Lucifer is a master of organizing resentment, and so is Alinsky. Lucifer is also a master at making G-d the bad guy. So even though Lucifer rebels against G-d, even though G-d justly expels Lucifer from Heaven, Lucifer goes, “G-d, you’re a tyrant. I don’t have to follow you. I want my own kingdom.” So Lucifer practices, you may say, demonization against G-d. And finally, Lucifer is a liar. He is a master of dishonesty and deceit.
Now, Alinsky adopted these Luciferian techniques, and so, for example, Alinsky openly advocates deceit. He tells the radicals of the ‘60s, “You know you people are middle class, but you hate the middle class, you hate middle class values, and that’s very good. But what you should do is pretend to be a friend of the middle class, pass yourself off as middle class, and use your position in the middle class to rub raw the sores of discontent. Try to radicalize the middle class by feigning or pretending to share their values.” And I think here, we begin to see the Obama and even the Hillary playbook, which is to say the ways in which Hillary and Obama both started out as Bohemians or Hippies, and then quickly adopted the Alinsky-ite approach of as Alinsky says “dressing square:” Seeming very respectable, being very self-disciplined, and ultimately pretending to be a friend of the middle class, whose values you are trying to undermine.
You talk about the prospect of a Hillary presidency, and obviously, as you know, Hillary follows the same playbook – she wrote her thesis on Alinsky. If Hillary were to be elected, that would potentially mean 16 years of an Alinsky-ite practitioner in the White House. What does that mean for the American who is at the bottom?
D’Souza: Well it took 200 years to build America, and it’s not easy to unmake America, even in two presidential terms. You need more time, and you also need a powerful movement behind you. Now, Obama I believe is a global redistributionist. Most Democrats think he’s a domestic redistributionist, and he is. But he also wants to redistribute wealth away from America and to the rest of the world.
Now, to answer your question – what does this mean for the little guy – well, remember that the little guy in America is rich by world standards. If you made a global division of wealth, the guy at the bottom in America would be in the top quintile, the top fifth of affluent people in the world. So if you’re a global redistributionist, you recognize, or you believe that even the poor guy in America has got to pay because if we’re going to have global redistribution, wealth has to be transferred even away from the American poor toward even poorer people in other countries.
And so I think what we’re going to see under progressive rule is the impoverishment of America across the board. And as for the guy a the bottom, he’s going to discover that there are floors below the ground floor in America – there’s a basement that he hasn’t yet experienced and that will not be pleasant to live in.
[sharequote align=”center”]”I think what we’re going to see under progressive rule is the impoverishment of America”[/sharequote]
And I presume that global redistribution of wealth also has with it a global redistribution of power, not just as a result of the loss of wealth, but also on foreign policy. Would you agree with that?
D’Souza: Yes. And I would agree that the redistribution of power is not due to Obama’s incompetence, or his lack of knowledge of where the Crimea is, or the fact that he doesn’t know that the Taliban mean business. He knows all that. He wants American power to shrink so that the power of China, India, Brazil, and Russia can rise. The latest exchange of the American soldier for the Taliban guys, with Obama, you know grinning and giggling, while people who have been shooting at Americans chat on the phone is just a small window into this man’s psyche. We’ve elected him to protect, preserve, and defend the interests of the United States, but the best that can be said is that he interprets those completely differently than most Americans.
[sharequote align=”center”][Obama] wants American power to shrink so…the power of China, India, Brazil, and Russia can rise[/sharequote]
In doing research for this book, you take on all of the leftist conceptions of colonialism, theft, plunder, and all the rest of it. Was there any historical episode or commonly accepted view that, through your research, you found to be most strikingly wrong, or that even surprised you?
D’Souza: Well, I think that what I’ve found striking is the highly selective view of history that is routinely taught, not only in the colleges, but also in the schools. This is a view that trolls through American history, isolates a half-dozen or so facts, pulls them all together, and then passes that off as a narrative of American shame. Most of our young people think that is history. What they don’t realize is that this is an account that jumps over whole decades, even centuries, and leaves out huge episodes of America, which is the Industrial Revolution, the spreading of the railroads, the great entrepreneurial and innovation history of America, the First and Second great spiritual awakenings, which transformed the country.
[sharequote align=”center”][Americans] are being prepared for a political and financial shakedown[/sharequote]
Most of our young people don’t know a heck of a lot, if anything, about these things, but they certainly know about Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, so they’ve actually got a highly manipulated view of history, a kind of programmed narrative of American shame, and the reason for that is that they are being prepared for a political and financial shakedown. So in other words, if you want the federal government to come to Americans and take their stuff, and you want to prevent Americans from objecting, you’ve got to try to convince them that their stuff isn’t theirs in the first place: that it’s been stolen, that their ancestors stole it, that if history had been fair, they wouldn’t have this big house and this nice couch and this big-screen TV and this nice car. So the government has every right to confiscate it because it’s not really yours.
As an immigrant to this country, sadly it seems that you’re fighting harder to defend and protect her — even at great personal risk — than most native-born Americans. You talk about our vehicle of wealth creation as being what separates us from the rest of the world, in part. But more than capitalism, isn’t it our moral system and the Judeo-Christian heritage, which informs and sustains the American experiment, that really makes us pre-eminent as a nation, and which is what attracted you here in the first place?
D’Souza: Absolutely. America was never built on the idea that prosperity was its own justification. The prosperity is a means, the abundance is a framework for people to enjoy the American Dream. And the American Dream is not just a dream about individuals, it’s a dream about individuals and families and community and faith and country, and even making the world a better place. America was always intended to be an example to the world. So, I would not argue that our free-market system is the only distinctive thing about America. Certainly when Jefferson sat down to write the basis of human dignity and human equality, he located it in the Creator, so there is a transcendent basis for rights in America, and that comes right out of our Judeo-Christian foundation.
You also talk in the book at length about our experience and the history with Mexico and the United States, and you discuss the appeal of America for immigrants, and how, as confirmed by works which I’m sure your familiar by folks like Thomas Sowell and Amy Chua, certain immigrant groups have come to America and outperformed everyone else within a generation or two generations. Your personal background is obviously consonant with such a history. What is your view on illegal immigrants in America, specifically Mexican illegal immigrants?
D’Souza: Well, I’m very pro-immigrant. And I’m very pro-immigration. But I have no sympathy for illegal immigration. We are a nation of laws, and we are a nation that has a system for taking in immigrants. And it’s a very generous system: we take in about 800,000 legal immigrants a year. Every country has the right to decide what the rules are, and what kind of immigrants it wants. And we’ve done that. We have laws to do that.
Now, the illegal immigrant is the guy who is, in his very first act of coming to America, showing a disregard for that law. Now, I don’t fault the motive of poor people in other countries who are trying to improve their life, but sorry, we do have a set of rules that you need to follow, and there is in fact a line or a queue. So if you try to jump the line and swim across the Rio Grande, you are not playing by the rules. So, on the one hand, my book is a strong defense of America as reflecting the restless, entrepreneurial, hardworking, creative ethic of the immigrants, while at the same time, I would not have sympathy for people who want to come here by flouting the rules.
[sharequote align=”center”]”I’m very pro-immigration. But I have no sympathy for illegal immigration.”[/sharequote]
How can America overcome the spirit of 1968 in light of the dominance of the left in all of our cultural institutions, be it academia, the media, etc? And is there anything that gives you optimism that America will in fact repudiate the progressive ethos?
D’Souza: I believe that the alternative to the progressive ethos, which is a well-reasoned and well-articulated conservatism is an extremely attractive political alternative to the mess that we are in now. It needs to be effectively defended, and it needs a political leadership class that is able to present it as an alternative, come election day. I think that one of the problems on the Republican side is that the Republicans tend to huddle and say, narrowly, “How can we take back the Senate?,” not recognizing that that is only one corner of the battlefield; and that the left has been making a long march through the institutions of education, Hollywood, the media, the mainline churches, so while conservatives are fighting in one corner, the left is shifting the goalposts of the culture and making certain political issues like gay marriage irrelevant by the time they actually come up for a political vote. Part of what I want to do in this book and then in the film is to raise people’s awareness of the whole battlefield. I think if we are aware of it, we can start fighting and winning in territory that has been, I think, very foolishly conceded to the left.
Given what’s happened with the indictment, do you have a message to other dissenters in light of the personal trials and tribulations you have gone through for challenging the government? And related to that, is the country not already, to some degree, fundamentally transformed, when you do have the selective application of the law in terms of targeting political opponents?
D’Souza: I think that with Obama, we’re seeing new lows and new aberrations that did not occur before. I mean it’s to me inconceivable that the Bush administration would go after Michael Moore in that way, or even that Clinton would unleash the IRS against his opponents. Carter certainly would never dream of doing such a thing. So, we’ve in a sense turned a corner in American politics, and I’m worried about it because to some degree politics is a game of adversaries, and if they do it to you, I’m sure there are Republicans who are taking note who say “Well, wait till we have a chance to do it to them.” So we don’t want the politics of putting your critics into handcuffs. It’s a very troubling way for a country to operate. In fact, it’s the way third world countries operate, where they use the army or the police to go after their opposition. We have been thankfully spared from that kind of politics here in America. So, I think if people knew that’s what was going on, there would be a revolt about it.
One of our problems today is that our press has in a sense gone limp. In other words, what’s happened is, we don’t really have a normal press that is a check on the government. The mainstream media has become, in a sense, an extension of the Obama administration and is covering for him. They won’t report information damaging about him, and they are sycophantic to a fault toward the White House. Now Obama knows this, so it encourages people to abuse power when they know that they’re not going to be held accountable. So I think we are at a perilous moment of American politics, but my hope and prayer is that it is a moment, and this is not the new normal.
[sharequote align=”center”]”The mainstream media has become…an extension of the Obama administration[/sharequote]
If you could speak to President Obama about your indictment or any other issue, what would you say to him?
D’Souza: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never been quite asked that before. Some people said after 2016, wouldn’t it be interesting if you could sit down with Obama and explore in a friendly but probing way, the ways in which your life and his life — which are outwardly so similar – we’re both people of color, we’re about the same age, we graduated college in the same year – how your experiences could be so different. I think that part of it is the fact that I am an immigrant who sees America from the outside. Obama is actually a native-born American, but one that has bought into this idea that America is a force for evil in the world. And so while I am trying to preserve and strengthen America, he is trying to contain America to reduce its oppressive footprint in the globe.
[sharequote align=”center”]”While I am trying to preserve and strengthen America, he is trying to contain America.”[/sharequote]
What can Americans expect to get out of your upcoming movie that they might not see from this book alone?
D’Souza: The book is the intellectual spine of the film, and so the book supplies, if you will, the argument. Movies are not fundamentally about argument. Movies are about showing, rather than telling. Movies are about also an emotional experience that enables you to experience America. So I can do things in the movie — there are things in the book that I can’t possibly do in the film. There’s information, data, footnotes in the book that you won’t get in the film. But on the other hand, the film gives you an experience that is very different from, and in fact impossible to get, from a book. For example, in the book, I can quote people on the left, but in the film, you’ll see them. And the film gives space to some of the most pungent critics of America to rail against America, and then I take them on. So I don’t do the Michael Moore buffoon thing. I don’t jump on my critics before they have a chance to speak, or misrepresent what they have to say, or wake them up when they’re sleeping. I let these people talk, I let them have their point of view, and then I turn the camera around if you will, and begin to ask, “Is this point of view valid?”
For more from Dinesh D’Souza, be sure to check out this recent clip from his appearance on Real News, in which D’Souza further discusses how to counter the left: