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Disingenuous Dinesh

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Recently, there's been a mini-controversy over Dinesh D'Souza's new book "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11." With a title like that, go figure. What's been of interest to me isn't the predictable firestorm from the Amerian Left. D'Souza's book accuses them having laid the groundwork for 9/11 by importing unwanted "liberal" values to the world, and then entering a de facto alliance with Al-Qaeda by opposing post-9/11 military actions against Islamic terror. Who wouldn't complain about a charge like that - especially if your name turns up on D'Souza's list of culpable Leftists at the back of the book? No - the real surprise has been seeing how many of D'Souza's fellow travelers on the Right have been soundly trashing "Enemy." I fully expected Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic to lash out, seeing as how D'Souza called out their "islamophobic tracts" as being counterproductive to forming the alliance he'd like to make with "traditional," non-violent Muslims. And I also expected harsh treatment from Frontpage Magazine in general, given how they excel at telling us that Islam itself is the enemy, rather than disparate, radicalized factions within it. I did not, however, expect D'Souza's saner fellow-travelers to spew bile all over it. At least Mona Charen was kind enough to give an even-handed review, but with the exception of a fawning encapsulation from the Stanford Review (run the same issue that an equally-fawning admirer recounted lunch with his hero, Dinesh D'Souza) just about every conservative who's cared to comment has either trashed it outright or called it flawed - a truly wretched stew, as one has deemed it. Even former admirers are wondering what's gotten into him. But there's a further surprise to be had: in spite of all the Right-leaning criticism he's received for this book, D'Souza is shocked - shocked! - to have been assailed so viciously... from the Left. "As a conservative author, I'm used to a little controversy," he says: "Even so, the reaction to my new book, "The Enemy at Home," has felt, well, a little hysterical ... Why the onslaught?" As someone who used to edit the execrable 'Dartmouth Review,' and has spent the entirety of his career pushing buttons to get a reaction from the ever-sensitive politically correct types, D'Souza ought to know the answer to that question: he pushed the right buttons yet again. Therefore his surprise can only be disingenuous in nature... unless his conservative detractors are right in wondering what's gotten into him. I'm wondering that, myself. Is it possible that D'Souza knowingly wrote a flawed book? Consider D'Souza's position: it used to be that delivering political incorrectness with an earnest face was enough to keep one's name in the air (and books on the Best Sellers' lists). But in an era where all the Coulters, Hannitys, O'Reillys, and Savages of the op-ed world have to do to sell books is hate, there seems little room for an well-spoken, polite fellow with controversial ideas... unless he wants to get a booking on a FOX News hate show, sometime. Did he look at the new, harsher atmosphere of Conservative commentary in the post 9/11 world, feel the heat and decide to change tactics? Having read "The Enemy At Home," I can't help but wonder if he did; It almost seems like the book was disingenuously designed to draw ire from both sides of the fence. The Left hates it for obvious reasons, but the Islam-hating Right is equally incensed at being called out for their behavior. That, coupled with shoddy research, poor basis of argument and questionable conclusions, makes for a book that even the saner Right can't really defend, either. But everyone will talk about it. And isn't that really what makes books fly off the shelves? The real shame about "The Enemy At Home" is that while D'Souza's central premise is false, and the evidence he produces is highly questionable at best, I agree that there's room to make cultural and political alliances with "traditional," non-violent Muslims in our fight against radical Islam. I don't think heaping official opprobrium on "decadent" Western entertainment is going to do anything but embolden now-irrelevant culture warriors, but there's other things we can discuss. Just don't look to this deeply-flawed book to be a step in that direction. Mr. D'Souza would do well to stop feigning shock at the Left's reaction, and provide some kind of well-spoken answer to his conservative critics. Otherwise, he may be risking the same kind of ostracism from their ranks that he used to treasure receiving from the Left.
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J. Edward Tremlett is a lot of things, currently. He's back in the states after a seven-year stint in Dubai, UAE. He's been published in such diverse places as The American Partisan, the International American, The End is Nigh, Pyramid Magazine (more...)

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