Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dinesh D'Souza at Harding

Last night Harding welcomed Dinesh D'Souza as the first speaker in its ASI series. His talk was entitled McCain, Obama and the War on Terror. D'Souza is a popular writer and speaker and was once a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

D'Souza presented a very articulate and well-thought response to arguments on both the Left and Right regarding the so-called War on Terror. His main point was that America will leave Iraq some day; the question is should it leave hastily and hand-over Iraq to extremist elements, or should it leave once it has maintained a stable Iraq. He also argued that a wedge must be made between the extremists in the Islamic world and mainstream Muslims. Only by separating these two populations can success really be achievable in the mid-East.

What really interested me was D'Souza's view that Muslim extremists are primarily upset by the threat posed to Islam by American popular culture. They believe the immorality espoused by our movies, television, and music are a danger to Muslim society. D'Souza believes that America could better position itself in the mid-East if we would do a better job promoting the positive parts of our culture (faith, family, freedom, etc.). The government ownes a number of radio and TV stations, but mostly we use them ineffectively, e.g., playing rap music.

During the Q&A period, I asked D'Souza if he thought sending such a message would be difficult for the government in today's age of the Internet where there is no central control over what types of messages and values appear to be espoused in America. He didn't address my question, unfortunately, primarily I suspect because there's no easy answer.

I've recently read a lot of positive and negative about D'Souza. He just started a fund to help George Obama, Barak's half-brother who lives in povery in Kenya. (To be fair to Barak, it doesn't appear George really wants his brother's financial assistance.) In his 2007 book Enemy at Home, D'Souza severely overstated his case against liberal American culture and got blasted for it. But his most recent book, What's So Great About Christianity, appears to be a well-thought response to recent attacks against belief in God.

Whether you agree with him or not, D'Souza is certainly a thinker with a unique vantage point who has put forth some ideas which merit listening to.