D’Souza: What Isn’t Wrong with America

Thursday evening, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization welcomed lecturer Dinesh D’Souza, Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, to speak in Love Auditorium about his new book, “What’s So Great About America?”

Professor Robert Kraynak of the Political Science Department introduced D’Souza and noted that the sponsoring groups’ goal was to challenge the “liberal bias of Colgate University,” by bringing speakers who “don’t fit into the political orthodoxy of political correctness and thereby open up the debate on campus.” D’Souza accomplished this goal in his hour-long lecture and half-hour question and answer session, using humor to keep the mood light when an overly zealous audience member made attempts to cut him off during his lecture.

D’Souza began by explaining a school of thought that sees Islamic radicalism as the new threat to the West, displacing Soviet Communism.

D’Souza said that this theory was not valid because there are many true believers in Islam, whereas this was not the case in Soviet Russia. Also, he said, there are many other terrorist groups out there that pose a threat to the West, yet the U.S. has chosen to focus on Islamic fundamentalists as the enemy.

After framing the discussion with this idea, D’Souza delved into differing views on America.

“America is simultaneously the most attractive and most repulsive place on the planet. It is most loved and most hated,” D’Souza said.

D’Souza spoke of immigrants who are extremely anxious to make their way to the States, the homegrown anti-American critiques often found at top universities, those from abroad who oppose our political policy and finally those in the Muslim world who critique American culture and morals.

D’Souza focused on two particular aspects of American society that stand out to him as unique.

“More than any other society, there is a good chance of success for the ordinary guy in America. In America, there is the chance to move up perhaps more than any other society,” D’Souza said. “In America, we are architects of our own destiny. We construct it.”

He contrasted this with his home country, India, explaining that, had he stayed in India, he most likely would have remained within a short distance of his home, followed in his father’s footsteps to become an engineer and married a woman of the same ethnicity and social standing as himself. In coming to the U.S., he felt that he was given choices that he may not have had otherwise.

“This, to me,” D’Souza explained, “is the appeal.”

D’Souza spent the rest of his lecture discussing American foreign policy. The basis of his argument stemmed from the belief that “foreign policy is not philanthropy. It is about protecting our interests.”

He stressed that the important question is to ask ourselves whether we are making the world better or worse while we work to promote our interests. He cited the invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War as an example of a foreign policy move that was done to protect our access to oil, but also to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

D’Souza admitted that Bush did not make the right decision in choosing to invade Iraq, but that it was the correct decision at the time given the information provided and considering the alternative of perhaps putting many lives in jeopardy if weapons of mass destruction were in fact used against the U.S.

According to D’Souza, the U.S. is now asking, “whether an alien seed of democracy can take root in an area that has never seen it. In the Muslim world today, there is a choice between Islamic tyranny and liberal tyranny. The U.S. is offering Islamic democracy.”

He concluded by discussing the criticism of America by Islamic radicals who claim that virtue is a higher principal than liberty, and that America may represent liberty, but it lacks virtue.

“They miss the point that liberty is a prerequisite to virtue. Only when you can choose freely can you choose what is right, because it is voluntary,” D’Souza said, urging his audience to see national allegiance as a positive because it will bring us “the life that is good.”

D’Souza has written two New York Times best sellers, contributed to news publications, and has appeared on ABC’s This Week, Nightline, CNN’s Crossfire, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Firing Line, ABC News and Good Morning America.

Before he began speaking across the nation at top universities, D’Souza worked as the Senior Domestic Policy Analyst at the White House during the Reagan Administration.