Dinesh D’Souza and the Downfall of Conservatism

Dinesh D’Souza and the Downfall of Conservatism December 12, 2017

Nicole Hemmer makes an interesting point in a column in US News and World Report, comparing the rise and fall of Dinesh D’Souza over the last couple decades to the path taken by Republicans and conservatism in this country as it has created an alternate universe in which facts and logic do not matter at all.

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The decline of D’Souza, author of books like “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” would not be particularly notable, except that it mirrors the unmaking of the Republican Party more broadly. This is not a coincidence: D’Souza was a conman in search of a mark, and he found it in the Republican base. That makes his career arc useful for people curious about the devolution of the GOP into a party committed to nothing other than tribal politics…

“The Big Lies” adds to that argument some decorative D’Souzian grotesquerie – most notably when he compares Trayvon Martin, a young kid murdered while walking home, to Horst Wessel, a Stormtrooper who became part of Nazi lore – but that’s just the trollish icing on the stale cake of the liberal fascism line.

“The Big Lie” thus adds little to the no-you’re-the-fascist genre on the right. But it’s illuminating when placed in the context of D’Souza’s own work. As someone who’s inflicted herself with a great deal of D’Souza’s weaponized pseudo-history, I had my lightbulb moment about a third of the way through the book, when he began making direct comparisons between the Holocaust and Indian removal in order to show that the Nazis took their inspiration from Democrats…

D’Souza writes mournfully of the genocide of American Indians in the early 19th century. Which I found curious, because in an earlier book in which he denounced the “shame narrative” of American history, D’Souza flatly stated that “there was no genocide” of American Indians, that this was just another Big Lie by the left to make Americans ashamed of their country. But three years later, D’Souza now sees an American history not only littered with unspeakable crimes, but one that is responsible for inspiring the Nazis’ catalogue of horrors.

This is precisely the sort of pseudo-intellectual drivel we’ve become accustomed to from the right. They have created an alternate media that traffics in absurd conspiracy theories. Everything is tribal for them (as it is for much of the left, but not nearly on this kind of scale). Psychologically, it functions much like a cult. The first thing a cult does is isolate you from reality — only those in the cult can be trusted, everyone else is evil and dishonest and will lead you astray. That includes the media, the schools and virtually every other institution of society. Listen only to the tribe and in all things, ask only what is best for the tribe. Nothing else matters.

This is why they can be so utterly shameless in their hypocrisy, because they rationalize it as necessary for the tribe to win. And if they don’t win, even for a single seat, the result will be catastrophe. The Enemy will take over and terrible things will happen. Thus the excuses for voting for Roy Moore — better a sexual predator than a (gasp!) Democrat. Besides, George Soros, the all-powerful leader of The Enemy and perhaps the embodiment of Satan himself, is behind the whole thing somehow.

This is how you create an alternate reality that is, for those who live in it, far more compelling and powerful than the actual world we live in. It’s how you inoculate people from all contradictory information. It’s also how you manipulate people, exploit their fears. The fact that their target audience is ignorant and easily manipulated makes them a very powerful voting bloc.

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