My letter to O’Sullivan about D’Souza

Here is the letter I sent to John O’Sullivan, then the editor of National Review, about Dinesh D’Souza’s smears of conservatives and the effects they had had on the conservative movement.

April 19, 1996


John O’Sullivan
National Review
150 East 35th Street
New York, New York 10016

Dear John:

This letter concerns (1) Dinesh D’Souza’s attack on the speakers at the 1994 American Renaissance conference; (2) the ever-widening number of people who have been damaged and intimidated as a result of that attack; and (3) National Review’s recent choice of D’Souza as speaker for National Review at the upcoming “National Review v. The Nation“ debate on affirmative action, as announced by a full page ad in the current issue of NR.

Let me emphasize at the outset that the question I am raising is not whether you agree with or want to be associated with my ideas, or even whether you will ever publish me again. The question is whether I and others have a right to express our views and not be slandered.

As you know, D’Souza in his book The End of Racism gave a wildly distorted account of the 1994 American Renaissance conference, the first large-scale meeting in modern American history where there was an unblinkered, civilized, intellectually serious discussion of America’s race and demographics problem. It cannot even be said that D’Souza criticized the conference, since nowhere in his account did he present the actual ideas and arguments that the speakers put forth. Instead, he selected—and in numerous instances he manufactured—brief out-of-context quotes and paraphrases to support his slanderous characterization of the conference as a gathering of latter-day Klan bigots who (D’Souza said) threw around epithets like “chink” and “nigger” and all the rest of it.

Even more remarkable than D’Souza’s slanders was the audacious con artistry by which he smeared people whose ideas were not only similar to his own, but, in the case of Jared Taylor, were the source of many of D’Souza’s own ideas. It was also remarkable (but rarely remarked) that D’Souza, after spending hundreds of pages denouncing as “racist” the people who believe in inherited race differences, quietly admitted that “The Bell Curve makes a strong case that cannot be ignored.” As I summed it up in a letter to the November 13, 1996 Wall Street Journal:

Thus Mr. D’Souza’s trumpeted “end of racism”—by which he means the end of the belief in intrinsic racial differences in civilizational abilities—turns out to be a fraud. And the worst part of the fraud is that Mr. D’Souza, backed by his boss Christopher DeMuth, labels as “bigots” and “white supremacists” people who honestly believe what Mr. D’Souza himself evidently believes but doesn’t want to admit.

You are aware of these facts. Last year I sent you a copy of my November 2, 1995 letter to Christopher DeMuth of AEI in which I detailed D’Souza’s falsehoods. You also published Peter Brimelow’s review of D’Souza’s book recounting how the book was so full of distortions that the Free Press, solely on the basis of letters from Jared Taylor, Sam Francis and me, junked the whole first edition of the book after it had been printed and had D’Souza make corrections. Unfortunately, many falsehoods and distortions remained in the published book.

As you also know, Samuel Francis was fired from the Washington Times because of D’Souza’s sensational rendering of the AR conference in the Washington Post, in which D’Souza went even further than in his book, portraying the AR speakers as white equivalents of Louis Farrakhan and charging that “Taylor and his comrades express full agreement“ with hate-filled comments by black nationalists [emphasis added]. I’m not saying that the particular quotes that got Sam Francis in trouble should have been immune from criticism. But if D’Souza had presented those quotes fairly, without the surrounding sensationalism and lies, it’s unlikely they would have attracted the kind of attention that got Sam fired, and that have now sparked further witch hunts by the Left.

In recent months other persons connected with the American Renaissance conference, whom I won’t name, have been threatened in their jobs, and forced into silence, because the leftist group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has been disseminating D’Souza’s quotes of the AR conference, along with other material on AR. Just this week a protest group held a “prayer vigil” outside the hotel in Louisville where the AR conference is to be held; they were praying that the conference would not take place. So far the hotel has not folded to their demands, but who knows what will happen?

All of these events have flowed from D’Souza’s cynical decision to create a bogey man to his right. In doing so, he gave the Left the ammunition they needed to launch a wave of repression against anyone who goes beyond current strictures on race.

And now the wave of repression appears to be touching not just the people who spoke at the AR conference, but anyone, such as radio host Bob Grant, who even mentions AR or its speakers in a positive light. This week WABC Radio announced that Grant, a giant in New York radio for 25 years, has been fired. While the unofficial pretext for this action was Grant’s comment about Ron Brown’s death (the sort of insulting comment which Grant has been attacked for, and which he has survived, for years), the stage for Grant’s dismissal had been set by the vicious ongoing campaign waged against him by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Earlier this year F.A.I.R. had disseminated D’Souza’s out-of-context quotes of the AR conference to liberal journalists like Jack Newfield, who then did a column linking Grant with the AR speakers and with everything they have ever said about race. Then a few weeks ago, F.A.I.R. launched their biggest attack yet on Grant, a quarter-page ad on the New York Times op-ed page labeling Grant a bigot and white supremacist and calling on the Disney corporation to fire him. The main evidence they offered for the charge of bigotry was that Grant had made positive comments about the speakers at the upcoming American Renaissance conference in Louisville. What it boils down to is that Bob Grant has been fired, in large part, for saying the following: “These (i.e., Jared Taylor, Samuel Francis, Philippe Rushton, Michael Levin and Lawrence Auster) are outstanding speakers and if I can, I’m going to take my microphone down there and tune in.”

Some of F.A.I.R.’s quotes of the AR speakers are correct, some incorrect, and of course our opinions are controversial and open to criticism. But I want to emphasize that the only reason why the quotes have been publicized in this manner, and the only reason why the AR speakers have been targeted as they have been, was D’Souza’s slanderous account of the 1994 conference.

Ironically, Bob Grant had D’Souza on his show for a full hour to discuss The End of Racism and often praised D’Souza on the air. Does Grant realize that the book and author he helped promote have helped get him fired?

Who will be the next victim of the ever-widening circle of destruction initiated by D’Souza? Maybe you, John! After all, you have published favorable articles about Charles Murray, who himself has made favorable comments about Philippe Rushton. After the Left—helped by the “respectable” conservatives—has knocked off the “extreme” conservatives, are you sure the “respectable” conservatives won’t be next? [Note: This prediction was borne out, since O’Sullivan was indeed fired as NR editor a year after this letter was written, the main cause being his positions on the “national question” of immigration and multiculturalism. Following O’Sullivan’s departure, the immigration issue totally disappeared from NR for several years and only re-appeared, in a tentantive, cautious form, after September 11, 2001.]

In any event, two major conservative voices in this country, Samuel Francis, the theorist of the Middle American revolution, and Bob Grant, the champion of New York’s besieged middle class, have been brought down. Not only has the American Right been materially weakened, but people will be more afraid than ever of speaking frankly about vital subjects like affirmative action, multiculturalism and immigration. Thanks in large part to D’Souza and the neoconservative establishment that backs him, the Left has won a major victory and America has taken a huge stride into egalitarian repression.

John, I’m sure you must be bothered by D’Souza’s unconscionable behavior and its consequences. That being the case, why is D’Souza the featured speaker at the upcoming National Review debate on affirmative action? Why is this certified liar and character assassin being touted as a representative and spokesman of National Review?

If conservatives believe in the freedom to have an open and honest discussion about race or any other controversial subject, then it is most strange that they would choose to honor a person like D’Souza who, for cynical and self-serving reasons, seeks to shut that discussion down.


Lawrence Auster

P.S. In writing this letter to you, John, I’m assuming that you are not among those who believe that anyone who seriously discusses race differences and their practical implications deserves to be expelled from respectable society and silenced. But perhaps I am wrong. If that is the case, then perhaps it would be better for conservatives to make the tyranny of silence complete and agree not to discuss race differences at all. Otherwise, some conservatives (like Charles Murray) get to talk about race differences and remain respectable members of the establishment, while other conservatives, having gotten the message from the “respectables” that it’s ok to talk about race differences, do so in a more outspoken way and end up being destroyed.

You also might be interested to know what National Review itself was saying about race differences and their political implications just a few decades ago. The following appeared in an NR editorial, August 24, 1957:

Should the white South be allowed to take such measures as are necessary to prevail politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The shocking answer is Yes—the white community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.

cc: William F. Buckley
Bob Grant

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 17, 2005 12:53 PM | Send

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