Dinesh D’Souza: A Charlatan’s Comeuppance
“Prominent conservative” Dinesh D’Souza resigned his post as president of a small Christian school in New York City on October 17. Two days earlier World, an evangelical Protestant publication, reported that while attending an evangelical conference in South Carolina last September D’Souza had checked into a motel room with a woman he introduced as his fiancée, despite the fact that he was still married to his wife of twenty years. The magazine reported that he did file for divorce, but only some hours after its reporter called him to ask about the situation.
“I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced,” D’Souza explained on his web site when announcing his departure from King’s College.
The following week two executive producers of “2016: Obama’s America,” which has earned $32 million in box office receipts and DVD sales, took D’Souza—the third producer of the movie—to court in San Diego. Apparently Mr. D’Souza wrote a book heavily drawing from the film’s script, but has not shared any of the profits with the film’s two other creators.
A separate lawsuit alleges D’Souza tried to wrest control of the production company responsible for the film away from his two collaborators, in violation of an agreement the trio had forged when starting the project. Ownership and voting rights in Obama’s America Foundation were divided equally when it was formed, with D’Souza getting 50 percent interest and Sain Communications—the plaintiff—and a company called VGI sharing 50 percent. But after the movie’s success, the suit alleges that D’Souza tried to acquire a portion of VGI’s interest to get a controlling stake. After Sain refused to consent to transfer of membership, the complaint goes on, D’Souza retaliated by seeking unnecessary debt financing of $1 million so he could claim a $50,000 finders fee. Sain further claims that D'Souza had $90,000 paid into an account in India “in order to hide the funds from the IRS, his current wife, or others.”
For far too long this man, who does not have a graduate degree and has never published a scholarly article, has managed to present himself to the “conservative movement” as a figure of substance. My own contribution to the unmasking of D’Souza preceded his current troubles by five and a half years. It occurred at the time of the publication of his 2007 book, The Enemy at Home, which argued that Islamic terrorism was a justified response to American transgressions. On March 5, 2007, he and I had a lively debate on WDAY’s Hot Talk with Scott Hennen, following several vigorous exchanges we’d had in print and on the Web on the nature of Islam.
Faced with D’Souza’s evident ignorance of the subject, which he attempted to conceal with dismissive arrogance in the first five minutes of the program, I decided to have some fun. Here’s the key segment of our exchange, transcribed verbatim from the recording of the show and published in the May 2007 issue of Chronicles:
TRIFKOVIC: Have you actually read the Kuran? Have you ever actually read the Kuran?
D’SOUZA: Of course I have.
TRIFKOVIC: Do you know how are the Suras arranged?
D’SOUZA: They are… erт… they are not arranged in any chronological order… erт… [pause] and… erт… [pause] and so I quote in my book both the violent and…
TRIFKOVIC: Just tell me, how are they arranged.
D’SOUZA: The other point…
TRIFKOVIC: Can you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?
D’SOUZA: …right. You can’t just call…
TRIFKOVIC: Why don’t you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?
HENNEN: OK, one at a time here; your question for Dinesh, Serge, is?
TRIFKOVIC: In what order are the Suras arranged in the Kuran?
D’SOUZA: [long silence] I really don’t know what you mean by that. When you say “in what order” then… err… [pause] there…
TRIFKOVIC: They happen to be arranged by size, from short to long! [sic!
D’SOUZA: [without interruption] And when did Iran…
By continuing blithely with his “points,” rather than correcting my deliberate error of fact—in reality the Kuran is arranged from the longest verse at the beginning to the shortest at the end –D’Souza confirmed urbi et orbi that he had not read the Kuran, and that he may never had held one in his hands. (For a more extensive transcript of the exchange, check out here or here .)
The eccentric arrangement of the Muslim holy book—from those endlessly long and often boring opening Suras like Al-Baqarah with almost 300 verses, or Al-‘Imran with 200, to the shorter and more interesting Meccan ones—is the Kuran’s most salient feature. It is the book’s one characteristic that is bound to be noticed and remembered by any reader, however uneducated or obtuse. That this key feature of the Kuran was unknown to the man who claims to have spent four years studying it was indicative of D’Souza’s style and substance.
Judging by recent revelations, in the intervening five years Dinesh D’Souza has evolved into a more mature and considerably richer version of his old self. An American success story, indeed.