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On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Sunday, June 13, 2004  

On Dinesh D'Souza and why he's a disgrace to Americans, couched in a retrospective look at Reagan on AIDS and Reagan on Blacks

Long title there, yup. So much to say, so much to vent. Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative who is as detached from reality as Samuel Huntington and a few others, answered questions about Reagan (he wrote a biography of reagan) during a live online discussion on Washington Post's site. He said many offensive things, but two that struck me the most relate to Reagan's inaction on AIDS, and Reagan's racism.

Boston, Mass.: Someone asked you about Reagan's response to AIDS and you ignored that part of the question. Why?

Dinesh D'Souza: AIDS was first discovered in the 1980s. At first very little was known about it. All we knew was that lots of homosexuals were getting AIDS, and that the homosexual activists were insisting that homosexuality had nothing to do with AIDS! The gay activists browbeat the media into saying that "AIDS is an equal-opportunity killer." There was a real effort to frighten the general population, partly in order to push condoms and other "safe sex" programs. Some on the right urged a quarantine of AIDS victims because this is what was done in past epidemics. Reagan cautiously waited until more was known about all this. He didn't endorse either the "equal opportunity" rhetoric nor the "quarantine" rhetoric, and both turned out to be wrong. AIDS is not a "gay disease" but homosexual sex is the most common means of transmitting AIDS. And we have also learned that quarantines are unnecessary because AIDS cannot be casually transmitted as was originally feared. Contrary to popular myth, AIDS was lavishly funded during the 1980s: it got (and still gets) a great deal more money than other diseases that kill far more people.

Wow. So many things to respond to in that one. First of all, D'Souza claims that "at first, very little was known about it" - but what defines "at first"? a month? six months? a year? 6 years? And he "cautiously" waited to talk about AIDS? By the time he said anything public about the disease, more than 50,000 Americans were infected with HIV, and more than 20,000 Americans had DIED from it. D'Souza makes the "homosexual activists" look like devils, with "browbeating" the media into saying that AIDS was an equal opportunity killer. It *IS* an equal opportunity killer, and way before Reagan said anything about AIDS publicly, it was affecting women, drug users, and recipients of blood transfusions. D'Souza mentions how activists tried to "frighten" the public into using condoms and other "safe sex" measures -- ah yes, frighten -- those lefty liberals, always scaring the public, and always pushing their "safe sex" agenda. Quarantining AIDS victims -- great idea, just like that Japanese internment thing back in the 40's. "Homosexual sex is the most common means of transmitting AIDS" -- interesting. D'Souza has written several books, has been a fellow at several different organizations, and is respected (by some), but he doesn't even know his facts on AIDS. Current stats show that in the United States, 60% of new HIV infections in men are from MSM (men having sex with men) but 75% of HIV infections in women are from heterosexual sex. And worldwide, 80% of new HIV infections are from heterosexual sex. The last claim spouted is that AIDS was lavishly funded in the '80's. I don't even need to discuss that one.

Dryden, N.Y.: A difficult question. Watching the SIMI viewing I have been struck by the overwhelming whiteness of the crowd. This to me is one dark facet of the Reagan legacy, a man who chose to start his campaign in Philadelphia, Mich.. Why do you think he was so tone deaf on the vital American issue of race?

Dinesh D'Souza: Reagan had an unfailingly inclusive vision of America. His view was that it didn't matter where you came from or who you were. What mattered was what you could do. Immigrants found this appealing. Blacks in general didn't. Blacks are at a peculiar point in their history where many of them believe that "race does matter" and "race should matter." A different vision from what Martin Luther King held in his "I Have a Dream" speech. So Reagan didn't reject blacks, blacks rejected Reagan. It's unfortunate, but I don't think it tells against Reagan. Maybe there will be some reconsideration of Reagan now by African Americans.

I almost had an aneurysm while reading this. D'Souza actually WROTE a book called The End of Racism. From his website, a description of the book:

'In a scrupulous and balanced study, D'Souza shows that racism is a distinctively Western phenomenon, arising about the time of the first European encounters with non-Western peoples, and he chronicles the political, cultural and intellectual history of racism as well as the twentieth century liberal crusade against it. D'Souza proactively traces the limitations of the civil rights movement to its flawed assumptions about the nature of racism. He argues that the American obsession with race is fueled by a civil rights establishment that has a vested interest in perpetuating black dependency, and he concludes that the generation that marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. may be too committed to the paradigm of racial struggle to see the possibility of progress. Perhaps, D'Souza suggests, like the Hebrews who were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years, that generation may have to pass away before their descendants can enter the promised land of freedom and equality.. In the meantime, however, many race activists are preaching despair and poisoning the minds of a younger generation which in fact displays far less racial consciousness and bigotry than any other in American history. The End of Racism summons profound historical, moral, and practical arguments against the civil rights orthodoxy which holds that "race matters" and that thus we have no choice but to institutionalize race as the basis for identity and public policy.'

And from Media Matters: D'Souza also argued, in a September 1995 Wall Street Journal op-ed, that "[t]he best way for African-Americans to save private-sector affirmative action may be to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

He even angered conservative Blacks: On August 22, 1999, The Washington Post reported, "[E]fforts by conservatives to build support among blacks were set back by the angry reaction of African-American conservatives Glenn Loury and Robert Woodson to books on race by two conservative authors, neither of whom is black: Charles Murray ("The Bell Curve") and Dinesh D'Souza ("The End of Racism"). In a highly publicized decision, Loury and Woodson resigned in protest in 1995 from the American Enterprise Institute, where Murray and D'Souza [were] fellows."

I especially feel a deep sense of anger that an Indian-American who immigrated to this country from India, could be so arrogant about another "minority" group. But it's time for bed, more on this topic tomorrow or the day after, as I've got more to say on it. Oh yes, Amardeep Singh got me thinking about this from a post on his blog.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/13/2004 12:49:00 AM | |


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