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Essay:The errors of Dinesh D'Souza

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Although I have considerable respect for some of the extensive research done by D'Souza into U.S. politics and history, his mistakes that have been made should not be overlooked, yet some still are.

D'Souza's column on "American Greatness" three years back contains one blatant mistake. He claims in it:

What happened to all those racist Dixiecrats that, according to the progressive narrative, all picked up their tents and moved from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party? Actually, they exist only in the progressive imagination. This is the world not as it is but as progressives wish it to be. Of all the Dixiecrats who broke away from the Democratic Party in 1948, of all the bigots and segregationists who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I count just two—one in the Senate and one in the House—who switched from Democrat to Republican.

In the Senate, that solitary figure was Strom Thurmond. In the House, Albert Watson. The constellation of racist Dixiecrats includes Senators William Murray, Thomas P. Gore, Spessard Holland, Sam Ervin, Russell Long, Robert Byrd, Richard Russell, Olin Johnston, Lister Hill, John C. Stennis, John Sparkman, John McClellan, James Eastland, Herman Talmadge, Herbert Walters, Harry F. Byrd, George Smathers, Everett Jordan, Allen Ellender, A. Willis Robertson, Al Gore Sr., William Fulbright, Herbert Walters, W. Kerr Scott, and Marion Price Daniels.

A Dixiecrat was a Democrat who broke from the national party in the presidential election of 1948 to join the "States' Rights Democratic Party" revolt due to Truman's public support for some civil rights. The failure to distinguish the entirety of the segregationist Southern Democrats and the subset of them who joined the Dixiecrat revolt is clear in D'Souza's op-ed. Here are just three examples:

  • John Sparkman; did not join the Dixiecrat revolt
  • J. Lister Hill; also did not join the Dixiecrat revolt
  • Allen J. Ellender; stayed loyal to Truman, which means he also didn't join the third-party revolt

For those who are aware of D'Souza's documentaries, perhaps some would be familiar with "Hillary's America." In a detailed list [1] documenting the evidence, D'Souza takes a quote by Ida B. Wells out of context. In the following quotebox, the unbolded text is what D'Souza includes while the bolded text is what he leaves out [2]:

I am not a Democrat, because the Democrats considered me a chattel and possibly might have always so considered me, because their record from the beginning has been inimical to my interests. I am not a Republican, because, after they — as a party measure and an inevitable result of the war — had ‘given the Negro his freedom’ and the ballot box following, all through their reign — while advocating the doctrine of the Federal Government’s right to protecting her citizens — they suffered the crimes against the Negro, that have made the South notorious, to go unpunished and almost unnoticed and turned them over to the tender mercies of the South.

That said, the PolitiFact source isn't accurate either to cite someone saying that Wells and pro-civil rights Republicans were "radically liberal," given their strong advocacy of gun rights which Jim Crow laws heavily infringed upon.

In the same "The Evidence" list, D'Souza claims that only the following Democrats switched sides:

Albert Watson, Andy Ireland, Billy Tauzin, Bob Stump, David Duke, Greg Laughlin, James W. Grant, Jimmy Hayes, John Jarman, Michael Parker, Nathan Deal, Phil Gramm, Richard Shelby, and Strom Thurmond.

How conveniently short of a list! He somehow forgot at least two important figures: David C. TreenWikipedia and James D. JohnsonWikipedia. The former was a Louisiana Dixiecrat who was later elected as a Republican to the House, and the latter was a staunch Arkansas segregationist who switched parties amidst a political realignment under Frank D. WhiteWikipedia.

D'Souza's arguments in his attempts to refute the "Southern strategy" narrative are rather insufficient if his intention is for them to be effective. His focus on mere party affiliation rather than ideology is the main giveaway, due to the insistence by promoters of the narrative that the racist Jim Crow Democrats were "conservative" and that the pro-civil rights Republicans were "liberal." That said, his left-wing Twitter opponent Kevin M. Kruse isn't so spot-on either. An incomplete documentation of Kruse's mistakes can be found here.