Democrats, Republicans, Obama & Dinesh D’Souza
Being Indian myself, it has always puzzled me when fellow Indians express their support for the Republican Party, which has rarely shown concern for the interests of minorities. Then why do some support them?
A big reason is financial. Republicans are big on free enterprise and low taxes, which plays well with immigrants who are insecure about their financial future in the new world and with those whose priority is wealth-creation. But another factor, equally powerful, is the need for acceptance in mainstream society; and nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in Dinesh D’Souza, the President of King’s College in New York, an author and a prominent Republican mouthpiece.
Dinesh D’Souza, of course, is Indian.
Dinesh D’Souza: Then & Now
Back when I was an undergrad at Columbia University (in the early ‘90s) and produced a weekly radio news show on WKCR 89.9 FM, I interviewed D’Souza for one of my segments. He was a very mild-mannered, friendly and reasonable guy. In fact, he was a good listener and willing to debate his views; basically the antithesis of today’s angry Republican. But that was then.
Fast forward to the present and I was amused and disturbed to read that Joe Ricketts, the TD Ameritrade founder and infamous billionaire who is trying to scuttle Barack Obama’s chances of re-election in November, is investing in a documentary based on D’Souza’s book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” – a semi-lucid work which makes the dubious assertion that the President is carrying out the “anti-colonial” agenda of his Kenyan father.
I am amused because Ricketts was also on the Board of Trustees of King’s College when D’Souza was studying there; and so it is not a huge leap to assume that his rise to the Presidency was helped along by his sympathetic mentor. But there my amusement ends. Never mind that the Presidency of a college is not something that should be a reward for ideological affinity, but I am even more disturbed by what is clearly the quid pro quo here: D’Souza’s willingness, and indeed eagerness, to be a lapdog for the Republican party – regardless of the current fanatical state of their views or the dangerous undertones of their intentions for America.
D’Souza is an intelligent and well-credentialed man, who I believed, till now, had a balanced perspective. Some of his arguments in favor of conservatism were compelling. However, his rhetoric of late and his vehement hatred of Obama shows a shift that borders on extremism. In essence, he has stopped being an independent thinker and become an ideologue.
A Victim of Colonialism
The irony here is that D’Souza himself is a victim of the very thing that his book accuses Obama of being influenced by: colonialism. D’Souza comes from a generation of Indians, or rather a subset of it, that subconsciously believes in the superiority of traditional Western thought and values. It is true that Western ideas have contributed immensely to the world stage, including in the arenas of science, governance and business; but D’Souza’s beliefs are one-dimensional. It is not as if he has examined various points of view and adopted the best ones, but more as if he has simply donned the hat of one self-contained ideology – an out-of-a-can belief system that he can rely on to define his own identity.
Is it Insecurity?
Behind this choice is a sense of insecurity at being a colored minority in a country that is still predominantly “white” and where the influence of the “old-boy network” is still strong. For Dinesh and others like him, there is the need for approval by what he regards as the real America – the people who stand for original American values and make up the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. He needs their approval and even more so their admiration, which propels him to ever higher ideological gymnastics, resulting in his latest book and escalating rhetoric.
D’Souza has long craved an invitation to “the Club” and now it seems he has it. Not only that, but the endorsement of a prominent Republican like Joe Ricketts bodes very well for his future. His own show on Fox News is only an anti-Obama rant away.
Unfortunately, he has made a bad choice for the wrong reasons. What D’Souza and a lot of minorities who support the Republicans fail to recognize is that today’s GOP is a party of exclusion; and not one that is driven by principles, but by the sole agenda of power. To put it bluntly, the Republican Party will happily exploit anyone – white or colored, man or woman, conservative or liberal – to be in power. Yet their platform benefits only their wealthiest donors and most powerful corporations. The interests of minorities, in particular, are ignored or even opposed – as in the case of the Hispanics in this country. D’Souza might reap personal rewards by selling out but he will pay a hefty price in terms of his conscience and the effects of his choices on the welfare of others.
Exclusion = Patriotism
By dressing up exclusion as patriotism, by defending hatred as freedom of speech, by whitewashing exploitation as free market philosophy, and by justifying corruption as representative government, the Republicans have hidden their political greed behind a powerful facade of red, white, and blue. And when people like D’Souza buy into that illusion and advocate on its behalf, they become party to the lie. They also enable the Republicans to roll out token Indians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians as evidence of backing by these groups, which is false and a dangerous trend.
Republicans claim to be the bearer of Christian values but do not uphold them in practice. If they truly embraced minorities and fought for them, it would be fine, but they do not; and I really hope that smart people like Dinesh D’Souza wake up to this fact soon. Maybe if he stood up for real principles instead of trying to impress the “establishment”, he might come up with constructive ideas and contribute something of value to the nation. Otherwise he will be nothing but a hack.
Sanjay Sanghoee is a columnist for the Huffington Post and the author of a financial thriller, MERGER, published by St. Martin’s Press in hardcover, paperback and Kindle. The views expressed in Talkback with Sanjay Sanghoee are solely those of the author.
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