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D’Souza addresses U.S.-Muslim relationship

By : Gina Pellrine

Dinesh D’Souza said he believes that America’s concepts and understanding of the war in Iraq are full of errors.

The best-selling author and conservative political commentator visited campus April 16 to discuss anti-Americanism in the Muslim world and his book What’s So Great About America?

“What is it that is producing this apparent volcano of anger at America?” D’Souza asked. “What is it that would motivate an ordinary Muslim to want to put bullets on his chest and go kill himself?”

D’Souza said he doesn’t think U.S. oppression in the Middle East is the reason for anti-Americanism.

“The one-sided claim that America has been consistently against the Muslims appears to be complete nonsense,” D’Souza said. “America has no history in the colonialism of the Middle East; America has fought numerous times in Muslim interests.”

Ricardo René Larémont, interim dean of Harpur College, introduced D’Souza and noted that he opposes some of D’Souza’s positions but believes in the free exchange of ideas on campus.

Several people stood at the back of the Mandela Room with signs protesting D’Souza’s presence; one woman called him a racist before leaving the room.

The thrust of D’Souza’s talk, however, had little to do with his previous — and controversial — arguments about race. D’Souza said the U.S. threat to Muslim tradition is the actual reason America is referred to as “The Great Satan.”

“What the Muslims view under attack is Islamic values and Islamic society,” he said. “The feeling that the Muslim family is under attack, the innocence of Muslim children is under attack. The idea that America is projecting values around the world that are undermining traditional religion and traditional morality.”

D’Souza asked the audience when was the last time they saw a family on television going to church, or sex between a man and woman married to each other, and not to others. “We are portraying a rather disgraceful image of America to the world,” D’Souza said, “and it is against that, that traditional people you might say are revolting.”

He blames Hollywood for the false projection of American values that Muslims overseas view as the representation of America.

“A Muslim not residing in the U.S.,” he said, “can’t distinguish between American popular culture and the real America. The Muslim doesn’t see the real America; he only sees the values of our popular culture projected abroad. The value of Hollywood is seen to be the face of America.”

D’Souza believes there is what he calls a simple solution for the end of
anti-Americanism — showing the world the other America that’s not seen on television.  “There’s a whole America of people who work hard and live by traditional values,” D’Souza said.

Before taking questions from members of the audience, D’Souza concluded his lecture with a hopeful outlook.

“I’m a great defender of America. I can’t imagine what the 20th century would be like if America did not exist,” D’Souza said. “America has done a lot to make the world a greater place. I think if we show a little creativity, a little imagination and a little resolve, we can most certainly do it again.”

That view was reinforced when a student asked D’Souza — an immigrant — why he came to the U.S. and why he thinks others choose to immigrate here. D’Souza shared more detail about his view that all cultures are not equal, and discussed his perspective on immigration and American freedoms.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08