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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Photo by Josh Gleason
Dinesh D’souza

On Wednesday, the Texas A&M Young Americans for Freedom hosted conservative political commentator, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in the MSC Bethancourt Ballroom for a talk focused on the current political climate in America.
Texas A&M Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is a campus chapter of the national conservative organization, Young America’s Foundation. During his lecture, D’Souza discussed how American history, political leaders and moral structures have played a role in modern cultural conflicts.
According to economics sophomore and Texas A&M Young Americans for Freedom president Reed Olsen, D’Souza was selected because of his heterodox views on diverse set of social subjects.
“We decided to bring Dinesh D’Souza to be the speaker mainly because a lot of things he talks about are really not talked about on college campuses and we think that’s important for those ideas to get exposure,” Olsen said.
D’Souza characterized the present state of social sentiment in America as one akin to a cold civil war, with two irreconcilable positions held by opposite sides.
“The cold war was an intense opposition, but it was ideological, but not military,” D’Souza said. “But nevertheless, I see today in America what can be called a secession of the American mind, similar to 1860.”
To D’Souza, past disaagreemnts in American politics were about means, not goals, and he drew upon his memories from the Reagan White House to illustrate his point.
“It was a time in American politics where you would have Reagan over here, you would have the Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill over here, and the two of them would fight it out on policy, but they could totally be envisioned having a Guinness afterward,” D’Souza said. “In other words, there was an Irish camaraderie between them and that was the America of then, but that’s not actually the America of now.”
D’Souza said the lack of a common external moral code for Americans to share and look upon for common guidance is at the root of the present culture war. According to D’Souza, the there has been a shift in the source of morality from traditional Judeo-Christian values to morals that are centered on the individual.
D’Souza also said that while he believes conservative principles are enduring, President Donald Trump has played a role in the evolution of conservatism within this broader cultural war.
“These ancient conservative principles have to be adapted to the situation,” D’Souza said. “In that sense, Trump is an outlier. He is not a typical conservative choice for the presidency, but in my opinion, he is somewhat analogous to a General Grant — a very peculiar figure and flawed in many ways, but happened to the the right man for the time, like Grant was. Many of Trump’s personal flaws happen to be political virtues.”
Social chair of Young Democrats BCS Landon Sadler attended to protest the event. He said D’Souza’s felony conviction, which D’Souza claimed was politically motivated, only further harms the credibility of the controversial speaker.
“He actually has plead guilty to the crime of making an illegal campaign contribution,” Sadler said. “He was fined for $30,000 and he received five years probation, and I think it’s really discouraging that parts of A&M want to give an audience to someone who is a convicted felon.”
Sadler said that while he believes D’Souza has the right to speak at A&M, and everyone has the right to listen, but he hopes students will take the time to analyze D’Souza’s views.
“A&M is a beacon of education and I think that when we have students who want to hear from a conspiracy theorist, and perhaps take him at face value and think uncritically,” Sadler said. “I think I’m really concerned about media literacy and critical thinking skills.”
Texas A&M YAF adviser Matthew C. Poling, Class of 1990, said that people opposed to D’Souza’s presence on campus should keep an open mind.
“I think people from multiple points on the political spectrum would find much to be challenged by and much that they agree with, in the process of defending campus speech in the interest of promoting civil dialogue,” Poling said. “We want to support Texas A&M to be America’s free speech university, because that is a fundamental American value that is been under attack in many corners of society. I hope [students skeptical of conservative speakers] bring somebody on campus and invite us to hear their perspective.”
Assistant news desk editor Jordan Burnham contributed to this article.

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