J Walking

Kuo: Do you think that conservatives have reached the point where we’ve forgotten that there are limits to government; where they believe that government and politics can offer salvation, when of course they can’t?

D’Souza: I do think there may be some people in the government, and specifically in the Bush administration, who have forgotten that. However, the unfortunate situation confronting the socially conservative right is that these issues have been thrust upon us into the public square against our will.

I mean, a good example of this is the family. The family was once not political. What I mean by that was that there was a general social and moral consensus in the society, and politics is about the realm in which there’s debate. So, the family was not a political issue because everyone kind of agreed that the family was indispensable.

Now, when the family is not a political issue, we can all be honest about the family. If you read Western literature, there’s a common theme running through it, and that is that the family is a massive pain. Families are disordered. You spend your life with a bunch of people you didn’t even choose. You only have to look at Shakespeare to see the kind of tensions generated within the structure of the family.

But, all of this has now become politically submerged, because suddenly the family has been lobbed into the political arena, and we have to be either, you know, pro-family or anti-family. This is a horribly inadequate way of dealing with the issue, but it has been forced upon us, not in a sense, one may say, by the democratic process, but by the judicial process.

So, the left has–operating through the judiciary, thrust into the political sphere all kinds of issues from gender relations, to the definition of marriage, to the issue of whether, you know, you can wear a cross on your neck if you’re a public school teacher. All these issues, which were once outside the political sphere, have been thrust into it. So, in a way, David, do you have any alternative but to offer some political resistance, otherwise you end up conceding the political territory completely?

Kuo: Good question. That would be a good discussion to have, but I want to stay on your book. Why do you feel like people should read the book?

D’Souza: The debate over the war on terror is currently divided between two sterile camps. On the one side, you have the conservatives, who say the radical Muslims are against modernity. They’re against science, and democracy, and capitalism, and they hate us for our freedom. And I think all of this is highly questionable. They don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us for what we have done with our freedom. They’re not against science. They’re not against capitalism. They have even learned to love democracy, because they have seen that democracy is often the best instrument for putting them in power. Look at the success of Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Then, on the left, you have other myths. The radical Muslims are upset about our foreign policy. It is our history of intervention and colonialism going all the way back to the Crusades. Or, the fact that we one-sidedly support Israel.

Now, my point is, none of this gives even a plausible explanation for why these people do what they do. And so, my book is a truly original effort to plumb deep into the thinking of the leading voices and figures that are shaping Muslim opinion, and asking the question–in a sense, the book changes the lens in the camera. It gets outside the American debate, and sort of tries to see American through Muslim eyes.

Kuo: And what do you see?

D’Souza: There is a large and influential group within America that seems to be working to make sure that we lose the war on terror.

Why they are doing this is a great puzzle, David, because if you think about it, the radical Muslims are the most illiberal people in the world. If they had their way, we know what they would do with Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank. And yet, the left is mobilizing very actively to make sure America gets out of Iraq, gets out of the Middle East. And if you say to these people, “Well, what happens if Iraq falls into the hands of the radical Muslims? They’ve already got Iran. Don’t you think that if they get Iraq, they will next target Egypt, and next target Saudi Arabia? Can America afford that kind of a loss in the Middle East?” They look at this prospect with equanimity.

And so, my theory is that the left doesn’t like the radical Muslims, but they hate Bush more. They are scared of Muslim mullahs in white sheets, but they are much more scared of a conservative President and the religious right that supports him.

Kuo: How do you want your book to be seen?

D’Souza: There’s a fellow who–named David Warren, who in the current issue of Esquire, basically says I hate America. Well, my last book was called What’s So Great About America. You know, I left my family and I left the world I loved to come to America, and I certainly wouldn’t do it if I hated America.

I hope my book will be seen as an intellectually honest, bracing, a timely way of trying to understand our situation, written from a genuinely independent, although conservative, point of view. I don’t indulge in the kind of dumb name calling. I don’t even say that the left hates America. I think that the left loves America, but is devoted to a different vision of America than mine. And this is part of our unfortunate situation. We’re living in a divided country, in which there are now two Americas that are objects of separate allegiance. And this is one reason why the culture war at home, and the war on terror abroad, have become intimately connected in a way that I think has not been seen before.

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