Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Dinesh D'Souza Does it Again

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Dinesh D'Souza, the Indian-American writer who became kind of famous as a Ronald Reagan Appointee for his very conservative views, and now at Stanford's Hoover Institution. He is author of a few books including, "Illiberal Education," a study-somewhat flawed in my opinion-of affirmitive action, and the more recent, "What So Great About America." It wasn't so much everything about Illiberal Education that I didn't like, in fact some of D'Souza's points were quite valid. The only thing I quuestion about the book, and this recent piece in the Washington Times is that the facts he uses to support his argument are shady at best. I think he takes quotes and facts out of context, and if you checked some of the sources he used for his book, you too would question thhe accuracy of his scholarship. I think everyone should check out Illiberal Education, as it definitely does raise some brows, but I remain skeptical.

In this latest piece entiteld How the West Grew Rich, D'souza is discussing colonialism, slavery, and reparations.

The unique Western attitude is captured in Abraham Lincoln's remark, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." Lincoln understandably didn't want to be a slave, but interestingly, he didn't want to be a master either. He rejected slavery altogether, and he was willing to expend a good deal of treasure and ultimately a great deal of blood to destroy the institution. During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of white men died to bring freedom to African Americans — a group that was not in a position to secure freedom for itself. Considering these undisputed facts, how should we think about the issue of reparations? My own view of the subject was rather tersely expressed by Muhammad Ali. After defeating George Foreman for the heavyweight title in Zaire, Muhammad Ali returned to the United States where he was asked by a reporter, "Champ, what did you think of Africa?" Ali replied, "Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat." Ali's point was that although the institution of slavery was oppressive for the slaves, paradoxically it benefited their descendants because slavery was the transmission belt that brought African-Americans into the orbit of Western freedom. And the same is true of colonialism: against the intentions of the European powers, who came mainly to conquer and rule, colonialism proved to be the mechanism by which Western ideas like democracy, self-determination, and unalienable human rights came to the peoples of Asia, Africa, and South America.

I question if Ali gave his answer serious thought. He uses a snippet that Mohammed Ali said after defeating George Foreman in Africa to defend his position that slavery wasn't all bad and I wonder if one asked Mr. Ali if he thought slavery was good for him, his family, and the majority of African Americans, what his answer would be? I highly doubt Ali, or a majority of African Americans would say that slavery was good for their people. If slavery did not exist, first, I highly doubt the United States would be as well of as it is, since the much of the so called "old money" was made on the backs of free, or very cheap labor. Also, didn't Ali refuse to go to Vietnam by saying that no "Vietnamese ever called me nigger"?

This is just one criticism of D'Souza's so-called "undisputable facts and truths." Curious to see what you guys think of his article


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