Author, filmmaker and conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza is headlining the Flathead County Republican Central Committee’s primary fundraising event on Saturday in Bigfork.
D’Souza has written 20 books, including 1995’s “The End of Racism” that argued against affirmative action. It was hailed by The New York Review of Books as a “thorough, intelligent, and well-informed presentation of the case against liberal race policies.” His 1999 documentary biography of Ronald Reagan was a favorite of the conservative movement.
His newest book is “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left.” In it, he writes “how the racist and genocidal acts of early Democrats inspired Adolf Hitler’s campaign of death” and “how today’s anti-free speech, anti-capitalist, anti-religious liberty, pro-violence Democratic Party is a frightening” image or representation of the Nazi Party, according to his website.
Jerry Molen, a Bigfork resident who won an Academy Award for co-producing “Schindler’s List,” is a close friend of D’Souza’s and worked to bring him to the event. The two met on a documentary D’Souza produced.
“I have always admired him, his intellect and his ability to deal with the younger generation,” Molen said. “Personally, I feel we are at a crossroads in America where I’m a touch nervous about some of our precious amendments — that some people don’t care about them and that if you have a conservative point of view you’re not invited to speak at a university; there’s a lot of effort in keeping conservative voices out of schools.”
Molen said he want to encourage robust debate among those with differing opinions, and that D’Souza‘s new book has some startling opinions about the Democratic party that deserve to be shared.
“I loved the book,” he said.
While D’Souza spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at Yale on Feb. 28, in recent years, his star has shown a little less brightly. Conservative critics blasted his 2007 book, “The Enemy at Home,” in which he explored the idea that Islamic terrorism was a justified response to American moral decadence. His 2012 film, “2016: Obama’s America,” was panned even by conservative critics, although it was the second-highest grossing political documentary.
D’Souza was convicted in 2014 in New York on one count of felony campaign finance fraud for “willfully and knowingly” directing others to donate $20,000 — which D’Souza then reimbursed — to the unsuccessful senate campaign of Wendy Long.
And just last week, the Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce in Texas, canceled an event featuring D’Souza, apparently over tweets he issued on Feb. 20 critical of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after the Feb. 14 shooting there. D’Souza wrote that their responses to failed gun control legislation were “phony and inauthentic,” and that their reaction was the “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
He added: “Adults 1, kids 0.”
The Conservative Political Action Conference called the remarks “indefensible,” and on Feb. 21 D’Souza apologized, tweeting “While it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy. I’m truly sorry.”
Molen added that D’Souza was reacting to an Associated Press news story, and that his friend is a father, so he understands the students’ pain over the 17 lives that were lost in the shooting.
“He is a father, and like everyone else he felt their fear and horror that the others felt,” Molen said. “He apologized for his comment being taken out of context with what he meant. He felt terrible, believe me.”
D’Souza also has made other controversial statements, including suggesting a Charlottesville, Virginia white-supremacist rally where one person died was a staged event, meant to cast aspersions on the right. In addition, he tweeted that Hitler was not anti-gay, despite sending as many as 15,000 homosexual men to concentration camps; instead, D’Souza said Hitler “refused to purge gay Brownshirts from Nazi ranks, saying he had no problem as long as they were good fighters.”
Molen said a few people are unhappy that the Flathead Republicans are bringing D’Souza to Montana, but added that those folks probably would be disenchanted with any conservative speaker.
“I don’t understand it; it’s all part of the learning process,” Molen said. “I’m not saying that people have to agree with him, but they should read the book. When they put it down they can disagree with it but that will be really tough. He’s made some good points.”
The presentation begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts, 526 Electric Ave. The doors open at 5 p.m., and tickets are $100 per person, and can be purchased by calling Dee Kirk-Boon at 406-250-5098. The event is a primary fundraiser to help Republican candidates get elected.