Roasting D'Souza

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George Packer has an amusing piece in The Nation skewering Dinesh D'Souza for his intellectual complacency. "Rather like certain graybeards who never got over Berkeley or Columbia," Packer writes, "D'Souza's mental world has been stunted by early glory at Dartmouth, and by having spent most of his subsequent career as a heavily subsidized, traveling provocateur who specializes in baiting college audiences and watching them react."

Packer's critique is mostly successful, though some of his arguments would be more credible coming from a conservative than from a liberal. When he suggests a left-wing resurgence could be in the offing, for example, it comes off less as a genuine threat to the likes of D'Souza and more as a little wishful thinking of his own. Yes, conservatives have gotten complacent; and yes, under certain circumstances that could mean an opening for the left. Trouble is, the left is pretty complacent, too.

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  1. As I wrote on Dartlog:
    Letters to a Young Conservative: George Packer, in The Nation, shockingly pans TDR alum Dinesh D’Souza’s new book Letters to a Young Conservative. One particularly choice quote: “one can imagine an intelligent conservative like David Brooks begging liberals to find their voices so that conservatism doesn’t stiffen like the liberalism to which D’Souza and his pals at Dartmouth delivered a few swift kicks on the eve of the Reagan revolution.”

    The Nation really seems to have missed the point on this one. The book doesn’t seem to have been meant as to meet the sort of standard Packer argues it misses. Something like Lionel Trilling’s The Liberal Imagination isn’t a fair point of comparison but of a different genre altogether. The mismatch is obvious and just makes The Nation look silly and the review utterly uncredible.

    In otherwords, “mostly successful” just misses the context of this blunt broadside.

  2. Why does it matter if he’s more or less subsidised than Bill Moyers? They’re both blowhard fools.

  3. Shouldn’t we be *rooting* for both left & right to be complacent, so as to open the door for US?

    Then we can split into our own factions and fight each other to the teeth!

    But at least we won’t be complacent!! (for a few years…)

  4. Is D’Souza more heavily subsidized than, say, Bill Moyers?

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