One could write at length about his legal case, but let me put things briefly: In the 2012 election cycle, Dinesh made a financial contribution to his friend Wendy Long. She was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in New York. She was a severe underdog — indeed, she wound up losing by some 45 points — but Dinesh wanted to help her. They are old college classmates. They are comrades.
Dinesh wrote his own check, and then, asked to do more, and wanting to comply, asked others to write checks — for which he would reimburse them. That is illegal. And it was “cockamamie” and “dumb,” he said to me. “I was swamped, I was rushing, and my brain just shut down.” There were all sorts of legal ways he could have helped his friend: by setting up a PAC, for example.
The FBI found out about his reimbursements in a supposedly routine review. That is a head-scratcher. The matter went to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York (a Democratic stronghold, naturally). D’Souza was prosecuted and, in May, pleaded guilty. He will be sentenced in September. He faces up to two years in prison.
He and his defenders say that the prosecution was spectacularly selective and suspect, smelling of political retribution. It is smelly indeed. One day, Dinesh will write a compelling book, article, or pamphlet about it.
Jail or no jail, his career will continue (perhaps with an aspect of martyrdom). His goal, he says, is to create a movie company that will offer maybe two products a year: a documentary and a feature film. “The Left knows the power of telling a story,” he says. “Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg are much bigger than Michael Moore. They don’t make liberal films — they just make films, and they have a point of view. I want to make films with a different point of view.”
Dinesh inhabits two worlds: the book world and the film world. The best-selling book he ever had sold 150,000 copies — which is a whopping number, let me tell you. But his first movie was seen by 8 million people. That’s a bigger megaphone, as he says. And, as he also says, conservatives need more and bigger megaphones.
He makes a further point: The resources are there, i.e., the conservative money. But the know-how and initiative? Not so much.
I tell him that I regard him as someone who came from a foreign land to teach or remind Americans what is good about their country. He likes to quote a remark from Jeane Kirkpatrick: “Americans need to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant it is.”
Yes. America is sometimes like a pretty girl who, afraid to be stuck up, is a self-condemnatory, neurotic wreck.
Dinesh gives me some autobiographical reflections. I will paraphrase: “I’ve had a great life in America, and I recognize that I wouldn’t have had this life in India or England. If I had gone to England — which was kind of my parents’ aspiration for me — I might have become a barrister or businessman. I might have been like Dodi Fayed or someone! Somewhat excluded from the corridors of power, so to speak.
“I married a girl from Louisiana. Her family and friends welcomed me with open arms. America in general welcomed me with open arms. I have faced no limits.”
Some years ago, Dinesh turned on the television and saw Christopher Hitchens debating a pastor. Hitchens was running rings around him, of course, using every trick in the book. He was sneering at the pastor, undermining him at every turn. Hitchens was Oxford Union; the pastor was . . . not.
And Dinesh, sitting in front of the TV, thought, Hey, no fair. Pick on someone your own size. You should be debating me, not him.
Someone like Dinesh gives voice to people who cannot speak for themselves, or who cannot do it adequately. “I see myself as standing up for an America that has been good to me.”
I ask him, “Is America going down the tubes? Is it curtains?” No, he says. “I’m a congenital optimist, temperamentally happy. I wake up in the morning happy. I also have great faith in the inner American spirit. I think that, if you activate that spirit, it’s a formidable force.
“This is the spirit that resisted getting involved in World War II, that is prone to looking the other way, that doesn’t want to be bothered. But when that spirit is aroused” — whoa, baby, look out.
Thanks for joining me, ladies and gentlemen, on this D’Souzan journey, and I’ll talk to you soon.