Thomas Sowell warmly endorses D’Souza’s book
Dear Thomas Sowell:
I am profoundly disappointed by your glowing praise of Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About America.
Apart from this book’s overall intellectual slickness and superficiality, so typical of the neoconservative establishment, it is on matters of substance that D’Souza is most alarming. Adopting Marxian language, D’Souza speaks of America as a “subversive idea” that represents “a new way of being human.” Specifically, he embraces the Sixties Cultural Revolution with its Rousseauian cult of “authenticity” and radical individualism—things you have opposed all your career. How could you have not noticed these radical elements in D’Souza’s book? Or have you also decided to join the leftward moving throng of neoconservatives who are surrendering to the Cultural Revolution?
In a key passage in the book, D’Souza describes a young man working behind the counter of a Starbucks: “The Mohawk hair, the earrings, the nose ring, the studs on his forehead and tongue, the tattoos.” D’Souza reflects that conservatives should not criticize the young man’s appearance, because it would “sound like they are against freedom.” “Cultural conservatives must now recognize that the new morality is now entrenched and pervasive, so that there is no way to go back to the shared moral hierarchy of the past …”
Moreover, D’Souza continues, “The Starbucks guy is an idealist, and it would be wrong [emphasis added] to trample on that idealism.” Conservatives should instead “embrace … the value of expressive freedom.”
D’Souza’s only qualification is that the Starbucks guy needs to realize that hard work, discipline, deferred gratification and so on make his lifestyle possible. In other words, D’Souza is advocating the same “bourgeois bohemianism” as David Brooks. He makes it clear that he has no problem with a society in which people wear metal rings in their lips, so long as they are not grossly disruptive of the social order.
And this is the book to which you give such effusive encomiums, and which you urge people to buy as a college graduation gift?
With deep discouragement,