Dinesh D'Souza's latest ode to disingenuous stupidity has already been picked over by the blogosphere -- Adam Serwer had a particularly exquisite contribution -- but I wanted to make note of the Economist's take, which adopted D'Souza's own approach of biographical exegesis to dismantle his argument. Here's an example:
If Mr D'Souza hailed from a tiny Westernised elite that allied itself with the European colonialist project against the national independence movement of his own country, that would explain his monomania about anti-colonialism.
The amusing thing is that D'Souza does have something of monomania about anti-colonialism; in 2002, he wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education challenging the academic consensus that colonialism was a bad thing. Jumping off from his own experiences, he argues that "the descendants of colonialism are better off than they would be if colonialism had never happened." As someone who sees the value in political regimes that don't rely on unchecked brutality and violence, I beg to differ, but it does actually stand to reason that D'Souza would feel differently, given his background.
I don't want to take this too far, and the Economist critique was mostly lighthearted, but given D'Souza's entire body of work -- which mostly reads as a defense of unearned privilege and elitism -- the Economist is absolutely right to suggest that his views might owe themselves to his background as the beneficiary of said unearned privilege and elitism. D'Souza's Forbes piece reads like a massive instance of projection; his own views are driven by a resolutely pro-colonialist stance, and so when evaluating someone with opposing views but a familiar background, he assumes that they must be motivated by anti-colonialism. It would be funny if it weren't taken seriously by prominent members of a major political party.
-- Jamelle Bouie