Up is Down: Dinesh D’Souza Says the Civil Rights Act Was Part of Progressive Bigotry

Image: The Osceola (AR) Times, Nov. 19, 1920

On Twitter, Dinesh D’Souza is on the defensive. He desperately wants the Democratic party to be a party of bigotry and racism, not just during the 1800s but continuously through to the present. Given that Democratic president Lyndon Johnson supported and signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, it is hard to make the case that Democratic party remained the party of racism. However, D’Souza is persistent. He invokes the well-known racism of Johnson as a Senator which to him is proof that the CRA and VRA were not what they seemed.

In a tweet, political scientist Phil Klinker informed D’Souza that no one disputes Johnson’s racism. He then asked D’Souza:

Are you arguing that LBJ’s legislative achievements–the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts–were part of some racist design on his part?

In a mindbinding response, D’Souza said:

Surely, there are other reasons why a president might support legislation, especially legislation as far reaching as the CRA and the VRA. The real mind twister is his contention that Klinker can’t see the reason due to “progressive bigotry.” The CRA and VRA accomplished the aims of civil rights campaigners and many Republicans. Did they also have bigoted reasons for supporting those laws? I can’t figure out what he is getting at. What would LBJ have supported if he wasn’t a racist?

As I demonstrated in recent posts, numerous Republicans were also quite bigoted throughout the period when other Republicans were supporting Civil Rights legislation. Lily white Republicans in the early 1900s wanted to purge the GOP of African-Americans and were successful in some parts of the country.

If D’Souza diminishes the CRA/VRA due to Johnson’s racism, then what will he do with Warren Harding’s similar sentiment? In Harding’s 1921 Birmingham’s speech on race, he told the crowd that blacks should have equal rights to vote but he added this:

Men of both races may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. . . Racial amalgamation there cannot be.

In his speech, Harding also favorably cited Lothrop Stoddard’s racist book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy to establish the problem of race in America.

Whoever will take the time to read and ponder Mr. Lothrop Stoddard’s book on The Rising Tide of Color, or. say. the thoughtful review of some recent literature of this question which Mr. F. D. Lugard presented in a recent Edinburg Review, must realize that our race problem here in the United Slates is only a phase of a race issue that the whole world confronts. Surely we shall gain nothing by blinking the facts, by refusing to give thought to them. That is not the American way of approaching such issues.

Stoddard’s book was a call to white supremacy and helped stimulate the 1924 Immigration Act which limited immigration from non-Nordic nations. When D’Souza wants to find fault with Democrats, he associates Stoddard with progressives. In his book, The Big Lie, he says this about Stoddard and his book:

Stoddard was the bestselling author of a notorious tract, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, that portrayed the pristine Nordic race being swamped through immigration and interracial marriage by degenerate hordes from other lesser races. Both Lothrop and Gamble became avid Nazi sympathizers who sought to import Nazi sterilization programs in their full magnitude to America

What D’Souza doesn’t tell his readers is that Stoddard was popular among those in the Harding administration and that Republican Harding himself cited this tribute to white supremacy in a presidential speech on race.

The facts don’t fit D’Souza’s predetermined narrative which leads to strange and ahistorical assertions about the bigotry and the CRA/VRA.

 

 

Dinesh D’Souza: Where Were the Democrats in the Human Betterment Foundation?

In his book The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, Dinesh D’Souza attempts to draw a link between the Democratic party and the eugenics movement in the United States and Nazi Germany. In the 2017 book D’Souza wrote, “Progressives in America founded a plethora of eugenic organizations.”(p. 135) He then listed leading eugenicists including, “Eugene Gosney (sic), director of the Human Betterment Foundation.” (p. 136). (Note: Gosney’s first name was Ezra).

As I pointed out in a post earlier today, Gosney was a registered Republican. He also supported the Boy Scouts and Paul Popenoe’s American Institute for Family Relations, the organization which gave James Dobson his start. While those are good things, that’s not the point. The point is that these guys were not progressives in the manner D’Souza depicts. They were Republicans and in many ways, they were socially conservative.

The Human Betterment Foundation Charter Members Were Republicans

Now to follow up on today’s post, I want to report that when the Human Betterment Foundation opened for business, none of the founding members described themselves as members of the Democratic party. I checked all of the voter registrations and other sources and found no Democrats.* There was only one person I couldn’t find any information about (A.D. Shamel), but all others were or became Republicans during their service to the organization. One member (George Dock) was a Democrat in 1924 but by 1928, he had joined his wife as a registered Republican and remained that way according to available records. Another HBF founding member (William Munro) did not state his affiliation until 1936 but when he did, it was Republican to match his wife.

So in short, in 1928, Republican philanthropist E.S. Gosney brought together 24 people, none of whom were Democrats, to form an organization that Dinesh D’Souza claims was influenced by the Democratic party.

Dinesh D’Souza is probably correct to say that the Human Betterment Foundation had an influence on the Nazis. At least HBF board member Charles Goethe said so when he wrote Gosney in 1934 after a trip to Germany:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.

D’Souza claims that eugenics groups like the Human Betterment Foundation are part of the “disgraceful legacy of the Democratic left.” In the light of history, the HBF is disgraceful but how can it be the legacy of the Democratic left when no Democrats were involved in it?

 

*Voter registrations were checked via Ancestry.com.

Eugenics and Republicans: What Dinesh D’Souza Should Learn from History

Last week in a Twitter response to Princeton historian Kevin Kruse, Dinesh D’Souza linked to a 2017 article published on Breitbart.com in which he claimed the following:

Hitler learned a great deal from the Democrats and from American progressives.  He got some of his core policy strategies from them.

Dinesh DSouza speaking at CPAC 2012 CC 2.0

Specifically, D’Souza claimed Hitler copied three policies from American Democrats – the treatment of native Americans, the segregation of African-Americans, and sterilization laws and the eugenics movement from the first half of the last century. While all of these claims are problematic, my intention in this post is to fact check him regarding immigration laws and eugenics.

1924 Immigration Act

D’Souza wrote:

Hitler also appealed to the racially exclusionary provisions of U.S. immigration laws, specifically the 1924 Immigration Act that had been pushed by American progressives as a model of enlightened eugenic legislation.

As Kruse pointed out on Twitter, the 1924 Immigration Act was sponsored by two conservative Republicans, Albert Johnson (R-WA) and David Reed (R-PA) and signed into law by Republican president Calvin Coolidge. When Republicans controlled the House, Johnson was the chair of the House Immigration and Naturalization Committee. While chair of that committee, Johnson appointed eugenicist Harry Laughlin to be the committee’s “Expert Eugenics Agent” and routed funds for eugenic research to Charles Davenport’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor where Laughlin also worked.

While it is true that the supporters of eugenics and race-based immigration had common cause, it is not true that the Democratic Party was the sole or even leading influence. Members of both parties voted for the bill but it was sponsored and promoted heavily by Republicans.

On a related note, Republicans today are typically the ones who want to slow immigration into the U.S. It was a recent Republican president who wondered why we couldn’t take more people from Norway than from “sh*thole” countries.

Sterilization Laws 

D’Souza wrote:

Third, Hitler learned from progressive sterilization laws that had been enacted in America through the influence of activists like Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

Progressive eugenicist Paul Popenoe, himself an advocate of euthanasia by poison gas, praised Hitler for being on the front lines of modern eugenics.  Harry Laughlin and Charles Davenport’s Eugenic News termed the Nazi sterilization program “a milestone which marks the control by the most advanced nations of the world of a major aspect of controlling human reproduction.”

It is true that Hitler praised America’s laws allowing the sterilization of people deemed to be deficient in various ways. It is also true that many of the leaders in the eugenics movement supported Germany’s movement to enact similar laws. However, Sanger had little to do with sterilization laws because the eugenics supporters cited by D’Souza didn’t want her help.

While it is safe to say that Margaret Sanger was progressive in her views, she wasn’t viewed as a colleague by those in the mainstream of the eugenics and sterilization movement. She hoped to attach herself to it to further her own cause but leaders in the eugenics movement didn’t seem to want her. Read what eugenics leader Paul Popenoe said in a letter to fellow eugenicist Madison Grant about Sanger’s American Birth Control League:

Dear Mr. Grant,

I have been considerably disquieted by the letter you showed me yesterday, suggesting a working alliance between the American Eugenics Society and the American Birth Control League. In my judgement we have everything to lose nothing to gain to such an arrangement.

[The American Birth Control League] is controlled by a group that has be brought up on agitation and emotional appeal instead of on research and education… With this group, we would take on a large quantity of ready-made enemies which it has accumulated, and we would gain allies who, while believing that they are eugenics, really have no conception of what eugenics is and are actually opposed to it.

[At a recent international birth control conference] two members of our advisory council … put through a resolution at the final meeting, urging that people whose children gave promise of being of exceptional value to the race should have as many children, properly spaced, as they felt that they feasibly could. This is eugenics. It is not the policy of the American Birth Control League leaders, who in the next issue of their monthly magazine came out with an editorial denouncing this resolution as contrary to all the principles and sentiments of their organization.

If it is desirable for us to make a campaign in favor of contraception, we are abundantly able to do so on our own account, without enrolling a lot of sob sisters, grand stand players, and anarchists to help us. We had a lunatic fringe in the eugenics movement in the early days; we have been trying for 20 years to get rid of it and have finally done so. Let’s not take on another fringe of any kind as an ornament.

Sincerely,

Paul Popenoe

Acknowledged eugenics leader Popenoe called Sanger’s group “sob sisters” and a “fringe.” The principle leaders in the movement to enact sterilization laws were people like Popenoe, Davenport, and Laughlin. Continue reading “Eugenics and Republicans: What Dinesh D’Souza Should Learn from History”

Is Confronting Fake History Worth It?

After fighting a few of these battles, I still believe it is worth it.

I thought about this question again while watching Princeton historian Kevin Kruse take on Dinesh D’Souza. Kruse created a thread of over 120 historians who either debunked or expressed criticism of D’Souza’s historical writings. For his part, D’Souza seems to thrive on Kruse’s attention and shows no awareness of the significant rebuke by historians of many ideological stripes (left, center, right). D’Souza had this to say in response:

It is obvious that D’Souza will refuse any expert correction. If anything this emboldens his efforts to cast himself as smarter than the academy.

D’Souza’s response, while more brazen and rude, is similar to how other historical revisionists respond to public correction. For many years, David Barton was effectively and accurately debunked by Rob Boston, Chris Rodda, and others. However, Barton and his followers dismissed them as unbelievers who attacked him because he was a Christian. When the criticism started coming relentlessly from within the church, things changed. Eventually, Barton’s book on Jefferson was pulled from publication and he was stung by the scrutiny from once friendly sources.

Those who follow this blog know that Barton made a come back. He eventually published a second edition of The Jefferson Lies with World Net Daily. Barton, pal Glenn Beck, WND claimed that political correctness at Christian publisher Thomas Nelson doomed The Jefferson Lies. However, the evidence contradicted that claim.

Before and after Barton’s book was pulled, numerous Christian historians weighed in against Barton’s writing. Along the way, over 40 Christian historians, some of them quite conservative politically, expressed publicly their criticisms of Barton’s historical claims. It is simply impossible to make a case that the criticism of Barton is based in ideological difference.

Has it made a difference?  I don’t think there is a good way to know for sure.  One can never erase the unprecedented removal of a book from publication. I feel certain Christian history professors are more aware of the issues than ever before. It appears to me that more are speaking out and engaging the public on questions of religious influences during the founding era. I also see fewer instances of false stories such as Congress printed the first English Bible and Jefferson gave his Bible to the Indians as indications that America is a Christian nation.

So what has Barton done? With so many academic Christian historians calling him out, he attacked them back by questioning their Christianity and their expertise. He even attacked Christian colleges and universities. He warned parents to think twice before sending students there. He came up with his approved list of schools where the history departments apparently approve of him. Barton shows no signs of stopping his work recruiting legislators to his brand of Christian nationalism.

Here is a sign of progress. That list was very small with about 10 schools mentioned. Many were small Bible schools. One, Ecclesia College in Arkansas, became embroiled in a fraud and kickback scandal leading to the jailing of the president.

Back to Kruse and D’Souza: Now that Kruse has compiled this list, people who need a quick response to D’Souza defenders have a resource. While an insufficient answer to D’Souza’s overall message, it is a response to D’Souza’s claim that his work is historically sound. Like Barton, D’Souza may yet find a few professors who are willing to put their reputation on the line to support him. If so, the issues will continue to be exposed to more people which will further discredit D’Souza in the long run.

I have watched Kruse and D’Souza for months now and the pattern is that D’Souza makes a claim, Kruse answers, and D’Souza goes silent or responds with an insult. Now that Kruse has confronted several of D’Souza’s claims, this pattern has become clear. That alone has made the effort worth it.

Before Dinesh D’Souza, There Was David Barton

Eric Metaxas (Right), David Barton (Left)

David Barton hasn’t gone anywhere but D’Souza is currently associated with the claim that progressive historians have kept the racist past of the Democratic party out of our education system. In 2004, Barton publihed a book called Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White in which he emphasized the Democratic failings and the Republican history of civil rights advocacy. However, he fails to account for the shift in the Democratic party during the last 50+ years. Typical of Barton, the book is missing important events such as Barry Goldwater’s failure to support the Civil Rights Act. I critiqued the book in a 2012 post.

Currently, Princeton historian Kevin Kruse is documenting on Twitter the many historians who have found D’Souza’s work to be lacking (over 100 at this writing). I was reminded that D’Souza’s spin on the Democratic party isn’t new with him by this tweet from Bruce Wilson:

I don’t know how long D’Souza has been promoting the Democratic party is still the racist party line but he sounds a lot like Barton when he does it. Is it possible that D’Souza lifted it from Barton?

D’Souza claims history teachers obscure the fact that Democrats favored slavery and Jim Crow laws. That certainly isn’t true in our local school system and as Kevin Kruse regularly points out, historians teach the facts — all of them. It is D’Souza and Barton who leave out the facts they don’t like.

Kruse’s thread with the line up of historians is here:

Donald Trump Pledges to Pardon Dinesh D’Souza

In today’s Corruption Watch News, I bring you this:

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions. Now Trump will pardon him.

Reaction has been swift and severe, as it should be.

Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub thinks the pardon might be a signal to Trump’s former associates now under indictment.

Law professor Joyce Alene agrees:

At the time, D’Souza admitted he committed the crime, saying

I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct.

He asked two other people to make contributions to the U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long which he promised to reimburse. He admitted he reimbursed those individuals.

D’Souza identifies as an evangelical and he is fiercely pro-Trump. Although he has been losing his luster as an evangelical intellectual since 2010, he is admired in pro-Trump circles.

Recently, he has become known for his incendiary remarks and fractured history. D’Souza has sparred with historian Kevin Kruse over political history (Kruse for the win). He supported Roy Moore for Senate and generally comes across as a bomb thrower.

Pro-Putin

D’Souza is also pro-Putin. He once tweeted his admiration of the Russian strongman.

D’Souza didn’t like my post about it so he did what any Trump supporter would do, he made fun of me and doubled down.

Great Victory?

Even though D’Souza admitted breaking campaign finance laws, he is celebrating as if he was the victim of a false accusation.

For some reason, Christians are celebrating this pardon. I understand we are all guilty of various things and in Christ, we are pardoned but our rejoicing isn’t to be gloating over others. The prosecutors did their jobs and the precious rule of law that Republicans go on about has been set aside. I agree with the first tweeter above, this appears to be an abuse of power and if Karma is indeed a bitch, there may be a day of reckoning in November.

Trump Really Thought it Through

There are no words to describe the lunacy of how Trump decided to pardon D’Souza.

Just How Divided Is the Republican Party?

Everybody knows how divided the GOP is but these two tweets within inches of each other in my Twitter feed depict the situation.
First, Sen. Jeff Flake:


Then, as if on cue to illustrate Flake’s assertion, enter Dinesh D’Souza:


These are two people who would agree about many things related to policy but are worlds apart on character. All that goes with Trumpism has served to split the GOP in ways the Dems could only hope to do. The witches brew of Christian nationalism and nativism is a political religion which has led so many people to call evil good and good evil. The destruction has come from within.
For GOP readers on the fence due to life issues and tax cuts, let me point you to the reality that the current administration is supporting pro-death policies in Yemen, and the middle class tax cuts become tax hikes after a few years. Big families will be negatively effected more than smaller families (pro-family?). The tax cuts benefit wealthier Americans with minimal relief for most middle class people. About 10% of middle class taxpayers will never see a tax cut due to the way the legislation is structured. Many Trump voters who supported him because he promised relief for the middle class will actually pay more while he gets a big tax cut.
D’Souza wants to stick it to media. At the end of the day, what’s the good of that? He may feel better somehow, but how does that help ordinary working people? Here’s hoping some principled people rise up in positions of power who seek the common good, not just for their tribe.

House Vote to Create Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, August 2, 1983

On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represents a philosophy that is morally indefensible and politically and socially suicidal.
-Martin Luther King, Jr. on the nomination of Barry Goldwater as GOP candidate for president.
 
Over the weekend, far right conservative filmmaker and pundit Dinesh D’Souza inflamed Twitter by claiming that Rep. John Lewis (“John Lewis is not a “legend”–he was a minor player in the civil rights movement who became a nasty, bitter old man”) and Rosa Parks (“So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus–that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss?”)  were minor civil rights figures. The response was appropriately swift and severe.


Like D’Souza, his supporters cast Democrats as the party of racism since Democrats in the South were opposed, in large measure, to the 13-15th Amendments.
Today, D’Souza continues to defy the facts about race and political party:


D’Souza’s formulations fail to take into account the factors which have made African-American support for the Democrat party so strong. These are not hard. Goldwater as a GOP presidential candidate opposed civil rights legislation. When Democrats were moving toward civil rights, high profile conservative Democrats in the South switched to the GOP (e.g., Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms) and championed segregationist policies. Even though Ronald Reagan signed MKL Day into law, nearly half of GOP members opposed the day, whereas 95% of Dems supported it.
MLK vote in House
It would be easy to go on and on to provide reasons why African-Americans provide a voting bloc for Democrats. Trump received 8% of the African-American vote in the last election. This was a two point improvement over Romney in 2012 but should indicate to any reasonable observer that the vast majority of African-American voters don’t like what the GOP is doing and saying now.  What happened pre-Harry Truman is interesting historically speaking but it doesn’t have much of an impact on what is going on now.

Dinesh D'Souza: Putin Loves Russia and Fights for Its Interests

Yesterday, Christian right film maker Dinesh D’Souza (Hillary’s America) tweeted:


The alt-right is also alt-reality and alt-morality.
Make sure you read the responses to D’Souza’s tweet. D’Souza is supposed to be the celebrity public intellectual but these commenters are taking him to school. In addition to oppressing his political opponents, Putin and his government have recently cracked down on religious liberty and evangelizing in Russia.
Christian right political types in the US cry big tears about religious liberty but praise Putin’s leadership in a nation where religious liberty is truly under attack.
Human Rights Foundation chair and former chess world champion Gary Kasparov tweeted in reply:


Trump’s supporters in the Christian right may someday wonder how they were duped so badly. I hope they aren’t wondering this after a Trump administration deals away American interests to a Russian dictator. Rather I hope it comes later after Trump and Clinton lose in a history making electoral college win for a third party candidate.
Perhaps I am alt-reality too. But at least my conscience is clear.
UPDATE: Mr. D’Souza goes full Trump and makes fun of my name. Classy argumentation.


To Gary Kasparov, D’Souza concedes:


If defending America’s interests looks like Putin, then no, we couldn’t use such a president.

Dinesh D’Souza Indicted for Arranging Excessive Campaign Donations; Did Wendy Long Benefit?

Coming from the Religion News Service:

Conservative pundit and former King’s College president Dinesh D’Souza has been indicted for arranging donations to a Senate candidate that exceed the limits of the law. According to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, D’Souza also provided false information to the FEC.

The indictment doesn’t name the Senator but it seems likely that it was Republican Wendy Long who challenged New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. New York elections records show D’Souza donated to Long’s campaign in 2012.  He is accused of reimbursing others who also donated.

Talking Points Memo breaks it all down; has a statement from D’Souza’s attorney.