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Does Anyone Take Dinesh D'Souza Seriously?

By Wendy Kaminer

        I shouldn't bother critiquing anything penned by the Dinesh D’Souza, but his latest screed on atheism is hard to resist.  Extrapolating from some intemperate comments posted by one anonymous, self-identified atheist who claims that he slapped his mother “the last time that she tried telling me that god existed,” D’Souza concludes that “atheism sometimes produces so much bitterness that even the natural human sentiments become distorted and warped.”  It doesn’t “stop with disrespect,” he warns. “Next we’ll hear about the atheist who became so angry about God that he went into a church and  Christian charitable center and started shooting people,” he observes (for D’Souza this qualifies as a quip,) in an obvious reference to the recent killings in Colorado Springs. 

        Unfortunately for D’Souza, the teen-age Colorado Springs shooter, Matthew Murrary, was “home-schooled in a religious household.”  Whatever it was that drove him crazy was not an atheistic upbringing.  On the contrary; knowing nothing more about Murray’s pathology, atheists who think and argue like D’Souza would reflexively blame religious belief for his derangement. 
       
        Like Ann Coulter, D’Souza is so irrational and so contemptuous of fundamental ideals of liberty and fairness that he lacks widespread credibility.  (Although, unlike Coulter, he actually seems to believe what he says.)  In fact, his clumsy attacks on atheism are worth citing because they seem at least a little anachronistic.  Conventional wisdom about the immorality of atheism and the impossibility of leading a moral life without religion is beginning to give way to a more nuanced view of human virtue. 

        Consider reactions to Mitt Romney’s obvious omission of non-believers from the diverse community of virtuous Americans he lauded in his speech on religion.  It was criticized in such centrist venues as the Washington Post editorial page.  (I’m happy to have been wrong when I predicted that only secularists and non-theists were likely to object.) Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan (whose elegant columns justify the Saturday Wall Street Journal) characterized Romney’s insult to non-theists as the “one significant mistake in the speech.”  She attributed it to his fear of losing the votes of unthinking believers:  “Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include (non-believers)? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote,” which apparently includes Dinesh D’Souza.


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