If you get a minute, this debate , if you can even call it that, between Dinesh D’Souza and Chris Hedges is worth your time. Of course there are some zingers, like this one from Hedges:
I think certainly since the first Gulf War, the US can not in any way be considered a stabilizing force in the Middle East. And unlike Dinesh I’ve spent 7 years in the Middle East. I was the Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times. I speak Arabic. Painting the Muslim world with this kind of brush which is what fanatics do. The idea that Algerian Muslims or Egyptian Muslims or Turkish Muslims is childish. It creates a kind of binary vision of the world. Black and White, Good and evil. But it’s not real. Its not the way it works. Even the Islamists who may share certain aspects of their ideology usually come down along national lines.
Hedges takes D’Souza to school. But more striking, at least in my mind, is the tone of the conversation. In the audio, D’Souza sounds upset and uneasy, as he is calmly dismissed by Hedges, who is totally unemotional in his takedown of D’Souza. What is on display in this conversation is the undercurrent of rage bubbling up in D’Souza, and I am beginning to understand the roots of that rage.
D’Souza’s claim to fame is that he juxtaposes conservative white America’s perception of acceptable brownness against unacceptable brownness, as if to say, ”See Right Wing America! You’re not responsible for the racist perceptions you hold of Obama. It’s his fault. His version of brownness is un-American. Mine is authentic.”
This is the problem with D’Souza’s work, in that it traffics in the idea that, in order to be fully American, African-Americans must adhere to a far right wing ideology. This means that blacks are not allowed any self-definition. If a white man decides to be liberal or moderate, so be it. He’s allowed that freedom. But if a black man (or woman) makes a similar decision, he’s un-American, a traitor even.
It is the idea that, as African Americans, our worldview must still be rubber stamped by the progeny of slavemasters in order to be considered authentically American, and this is the insidiousness of white supremacy. African-Americans see it for what it is. But D’Souza rails against that, not fully understanding why we can’t behave like him, and more fully emulate colonizers, white conservatives, and whatever other standard is set for us. He may as well say, “why can’t you all be good little boys and girls, like me.” D’Souza’s rage is authentic, but it’s also misdirected.