No, You Are: Deconstructing Dinesh D’Souza’s Interview with Richard Spencer
Albert Camus and John Paul Sartre. Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens. The Beatles and Elvis. It’s fascinating when two of the greats in a given field collide. Sometimes we’re provided rich dialogue, as was the case with Camus and Sartre (the pair wrote and argued for years, contemporaries at the head of Existential philosophy in France). Poe and Dickens, though not particularly fond of one another, met in brief meetings to discuss writers and publishing. Elvis’ jam session with The Beatles was brief, and left the lads with a different impression of the King than the one they entered with.
What is the inverse of these meetings? The complete opposite of two (or more) geniuses coming together to share their thoughts and ideas surrounding the subjects they reached the peak of?
It’s when Richard Spencer was “interviewed” by Dinesh D’Souza in the latter’s “documentary” “film” The Death of a Nation.
So, who are these bellends?
Dinesh D’Souza is a “filmmaker” and convicted felon. He has written and directed four films that can be summed up succinctly as “Republicans good, Democrats bad.” Dinesh’s primary arguments (in all of his “films”) are as follows:
- American political parties have not changed since the 1860’s. Ignore Whigs.
- Republican and Democrat are polar opposites, and are defined by those labels which hold intrinsic meaning. Cultural stereotypes (such as the “artsy” liberal) define political party, too.
- Democrats = Hitler, Mussolini and institutionalized slavery. Not-slavery = slavery in some cases.
None of this is hyperbole, either. The idea that Jewish Democrat leadership candidate Bernie Sanders might as well be a Nazi is literally said out loud in Death of a Nation when Dinesh compares Nazi support of nationalized social services to modern progressive policy. There’s the unsubtle implication that supporters of national healthcare or education are in favor of genocide, or, at the very least, that implementation of those policies will lead to it.
Take every ultranationalist American belief you can name – those not-quite-definable terms like the Founding Fathers, American principles, freedom, small government, and rugged individualism – and you will have summed up Dinesh D’Souza’s worldview. He lives in a fantasyland where America is the greatest thing ever, has never done anything wrong (even when his movies expressly show otherwise), and is endless waves of grain and opportunity. It’s porn for conservative Christians that live in a bubble and need justification for supporting a pussy-grabbing melanoma that gained human form and was, until about four years ago, itself a Democrat.
Richard Spencer, on the other hand, is a white nationalist who is not afraid to brag about it. He’s most famous for getting punched, sparking a debate over whether or not it’s okay to punch Nazis. He’s a proponent of “white genocide”, which is basically Nazis getting butthurt that there are people with a different skin color than themselves. He wants to establish a white ethnostate in the US (even though indiginous Americans are not white), and is a leading figure in the alt-right movement. He’s also homophobic and sexist, but he and Dinesh agree there so the topics never come up.
What’s so magical about the interview is its purpose: Dinesh is trying to draw a distinction between himself, a Trump-supporting conservative, and Richard, a Trump-supporting conservative, to show that Trump-supporting conservatives (and, by extension, Trump) aren’t all racist garbage people. Unfortunately, Dinesh is too caught up in labels, buzzwords and tricking Richard into saying he’s a Democrat to have any meaningful discussion. The best thing that can be said about Dinesh is that he managed to not say the N-word on camera. Way to not be a racist, Dinesh, you’ve cleared literally the lowest bar; it’s like the incels on Twitter that brag about how they didn’t sexually assault an unconscious woman.
Dinesh begins his segment on Richard Spencer by calling him the “poster boy of racism”. He plays a clip from a… Klan rally with business suits? Richard says, “Hail our people, hail victory,” but Dinesh leaves out the “Hail Trump” that preceded those two statements since these Nazis are clearly no true right-wing Scotsmen. You can hear a dude yell “sieg heil”, and I’d bet you can find a few of the people that funded Trump’s campaign (maybe even the documentary) at this rally. Then clips of protests against Richard Spencer speaking on college campuses are played – is the audience supposed to support liberal protestors now? – and we see his cracker ass get punched (sweet schadenfreude), and then a clip of him condescendingly telling a black man that white nationalism is actually good for black people is played.
“What does Richard Spencer actually believe?” Dinesh asks, desperately hoping he hasn’t lost his audience since they’re likely to have turned this drivel off to go dive down an alt-right rabbit hole on YouTube.
The interview appears to be taking place in a coffee shop. Each shot/reverse shot is a one shot, but Dinesh and his crew weren’t smart enough to set it up so that Richard was on the left while Dinesh was on the right… which is a massive oversight in visual storytelling. Dinesh looks serious, while Richard is beaming; he’s just happy to be able to spout his racist nonsense to an audience that is open to receiving his personal brand of overt racism.
The following transcript is intended for educational purposes, and any changes were made to get this over with faster.
Dinesh: “People have called you a Nazi. Are you a Nazi?”
Richard: “Oh, no, I’m not a Nazi. I’m not a neo-Nazi. I’m not any of those things.”
Audience: “Well that settles it. He’s not a Nazi. Good enough for me. Deuces, D’Souza,” probably.
Dinesh (internal monologue): “Foiled again,” probably.
The irony here is that this denial is the summation of Trump’s time in office. Trump calls for a ban on immigration from all Muslim nations, refers to countries with a non-white majority as “shithole countries”, but he gets to say “no, I’m not a Nazi,” and dumbasses like Dinesh will gladly help him in that goal. However, when an actual card-carrying Nazi pulls the denial card, Dinesh is confronted with cognitive dissonance and becomes visibly confused. Maybe he’s just mad someone else is attempting to define Nazi incorrectly?
Dinsesh: “Now, you say you’re not a neo-Nazi or a Nazi, and yet [you know people that do Nazi stuff from earlier clip]. You saw them. You didn’t repudiate them. [You cool with that?]”
Richard: “I said ‘Hail Trump’…”
Dinesh: “Doesn’t ‘Hail Trump sound unnervingly like ‘Heil Hitler”?
Wow, I dunno Dinesh; does it?
And you somehow can’t think of any reasons people may be calling Trump fascist when he is a clear beacon for racist pricks? You see no issues with a man who condones white sumpremacy when he says there were good people participating in a Nazi rally in Virginia?
More like Densenesh, amirite?
Richard: “I was being very provocative.”
Don’t worry, Dinesh implied two Jews are Nazis, he understands the subtle art of provoking dumbfuck racists to gain support.
Dinesh: “Isn’t it fair to say that you know that there is a media left out there (sic) that is looking to pin neo-Nazism on the right, and by [being a Nazi], you’re serving [the media’s script], and it actually hurts Trump.”
[Jacob’s Paraphrase: “C’mon, man, stop being an overt Nazi so that the media (read: Jews, probably) stops trying to call Trump a Nazi.”]
Look, man, no one in academia accepts that the Nazis were left-wing. You’re just plain wrong. No valid source agrees with you, and it’s not a conspiracy theory by the Democrats and Jewish media. Nazis and fascists in general are the extreme end of right wing politics, and ya boy Trump plays dangerously close to that authoritarian right wing line. He doesn’t have to cross it for us to call him a Nazi (and maybe we’re just being provocative).
This is also the point where it becomes clear that Dinesh edited out a lot of what Richard had to say. He’s so often awkwardly cut off and not allowed to finish a thought, and I guarantee you there are dozens of minutes of Richard saying, “I’m a conservative right-winger just like you.” There’s no way Richard allows people to just cut him off, especially when they pass a particular melanin threshold.
Richard: “Uh, no. I don’t think the alt-right has hurt Trump in the slightest bit.”
I can’t argue with that, even the worst of what he says doesn’t stick. He probably could get away with shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.
Dinesh, quickly changing topic: “Would it be fair to say that you are not just against illegal immigration, but immigration, period?”
Dinesh, you have to stop with the leading questions buddy. “What are your views on immigration,” would give you the answer you want because the dude is a Nazi. You don’t need to spoon feed your audi… you know what, never mind, you probably do have to spoon feed your audience.
Richard: “[It’s fine if they’re white].”
There’s no need to expound on the specifics of his answer, that’s the answer he gave.
Dinesh: “[So the immigration policy you support is ‘whites only’?]”
Again, no need to give the full question. We get it, Dinesh. You know how many Trump voters likely agree with him? Not five minutes ago in your “movie”, an alt-right Trump supporter criticized you for being an Indian immigrant. You’re fighting a losing battle here. One thing that was mildly funny was that as Dinesh lists off majority white countries, they cut to Richard nodding his head, conveying his approval of immigrants from these nations.
Up until this point, I’m “on Dinesh’s side”. This dude is a Nazi, and deserves to be reviled. However, Dinesh decides to up the ante with this nugget of idiocy.
Dinesh: “Now this seems very different from Trump.”
Does it, though?
Dinesh: “And by that I mean, isn’t it true that the line that Trump is drawing is not a racial line, but a line between the legal and the illegal immigrant?”
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Dinesh.
“Illegal immigrant” is pretty obviously a dog whistle for “Mexican” (which means anywhere south of the US to a Trump supporter). Are we just going to pretend the “Muslim ban” and border wall are anything but appeals to racists? Funnily enough, the racists agree. Dinesh seems to be impervious to the idea that words have any meaning other than their literal or technical definitions.
Richard: “He’s made a difference between the illegal and legal, sure. But I ultimately don’t support that.”
This is a moment where I’ve looked hard at the editing to see if Dinesh and his crew have constructed an answer out of what Richard said. There’s an unnecessary cut between three different shots, and whether this was Frankensteined or not, it feels strangely incomplete.
Dinesh: “Trump was quoted in the paper as saying, [something about being okay with an Indian working in Silicon Valley].”
You’re telling me Trump sees value in humans as long as they’re able to contribute to capitalist society? What about the Indians that don’t work in Silicon Valley? Is it a loss when a girl from Guatemala studying Art is deported? Trump has also said he only wants Jews counting his money, which is only the number one anti-Semitic trope in history. I’ll be impressed when Trump ends the practice of putting children in cages just because they’re not United States citizens, not when he says something that is only slightly unprejudiced.
Richard: “[Non-white people bad].”
Another point where Richard was obviously cut off in editing, and I can’t say I’m unhappy about it. Racist shithead.
Dinesh: “In Richard Spencer’s world, what would you do with non-white immigrants who are here?”
Richard: “[Send them back to where they came from].”
Richard calls this “non-violent ethnic cleansing”, and fails to realize his ancestors aren’t from the US.
Dinesh: “I mean, I hear you echoing a white Malcolm X philosophy. And so if you and Malcolm X were at the table, you’d get along just fine.”
Does Dinesh lack the ability to understand context? Does he know anything about the historical treatment of black people in America? Does he know anything about what Malcolm X said or why he said it?
Malcolm X wasn’t a neo-Nazi segregationist, he was a proponent of black enterprise and success. His separatist ideas were about getting out from under oppression by the white people who attempted to squash black achievement as recently as the 1960s, if not the Obama presidency. To compare Richard to Malcolm X is to buy into his idea that white people have experienced anywhere near that level of hardship, and it might be the most offensive thing anyone has mentioned in this conversation. I’d also assume that Dinesh’s audience hates Malcolm X, so it’s nice to get that implicit comparison on the record. I had to watch Spike Lee’s biopic to cool down from this.
Richard: “I think we could have a respectful dialogue if Malcolm X were at the table.”
Fuck off, Nazi. You deserve nothing less than the fist to the face we got to see earlier.
Dinesh: “Do you agree that what you’re articulating is a philosophy that was very prevalent among really progressive Democrats in the early 20th century?”
[Jacob’s Paraphrase: “Will you say you’re a Democrat for the camera to validate my theory that Nazis = Democrats?”]
In Dinesh’s twisted logic, 20th century progressives were Nazis. Not people advocating for the rights of workers, women and people of color… Nazis. Even if “20th century progressives” were Nazis, what about modern leftists? Nothing about Richard’s views have an overlap with them.
Richard: “I am sure there are instances in which left-wing thinkers or entities adopted nationalism. What it means to be on the right, what it means to be a conservative, is actually deeply collectivist. It is not individualistic at all.”
This didn’t even answer the question, but I’m fascinated at how quickly Dinesh jumps to action to interrupt Richard’s thought (and it’s a wonder he couldn’t find a way to get so offended when he was being a racist)
Dinesh: “Pause for a moment. So, as I would say as a conservative, I’m conserving the philosophy and the principles of the American founding. You’re not.”
This is a meaningless statement. The founders didn’t give anyone except property-owning white males the right to vote, their ideas are mostly masturbatory fantasies about John Locke and Ancient Greece. “We the people” is, perhaps, the most collectivist opening statement one could ever make. Why isn’t Disnesh advocating for the spirit of the words of the Founding Fathers?
Does Dinesh think that the Revolution was conducted by a large group of individuals who decided individually to take individual action? Does he think keeping slaves is living up to the idea that “all men are created equal”? I’m surprised he didn’t have to stop the interview to wipe his tears with an American flag handkerchief folded to proper flag code standards.
Richard: “I’ve been critical of the American founding throughout my writings and my career.”
Dinesh is visibly triggered at this point. He goes on the defensive; how dare someone talk shit about George “I owned a slave plantation” Washington?
Dinesh: “What was wrong with the American founding?”
How could Richard possibly make this worse?
Richard: “This notion that we will create a state to protect human rights or individual rights. I mean, no state in the history of the world, including the United States, was ever created like that.”
That’s his issue with the founding of America.
Dinesh: “So all men are created equal. True or false?”
Richard: “False, obviously.”
But let’s pretend Trump supporters don’t agree with him.
Dinesh: “What about the idea that…”
Richard: “No one actually believes that. I mean, seriously, no one believes that.”
Dinesh: “The idea that, let’s say, we have a right to life. True or false?”
Dinesh refuses to engage; I’d commend him but he chose to sit down with a Nazi instead of punching him in the face.
Richard: “I don’t think we have rights to, really, anything.”
I hate to say I understand where he’s coming from; we have no inherent rights. Just look at slavery, you can’t argue that anyone has “natural” rights when we can create laws to take away one’s personal freedom. Rights, insomuch as they exist, are granted by a state, and those clearly supersede anything else because they’re enforced.
“God-given rights” don’t matter when god doesn’t do anything to solve the problems of inequality that crop up when you bring more than one human together. Rights are a construction we have to agree on in order to live the best lives possible, and to have the arrogance to think that the American founders were perfect in granting and enacting every right that humans ought to have is ludicrous.
Richard: “I don’t think we should ever pledge allegiance or worship legal documents.”
Another good point. Legal rights shouldn’t be sacred.
We need to be able to reexamine our society and morality in order to improve it. We should never say “good enough” when it’s so obvious that the world is still a long way away from egalitarianism.
If that’s really the goal we’re striving towards, why Trump? This is the issue that Dinesh never touches on because he’s too busy creating strawmen from bullshit.
The founding fathers and this nebulous pipedream of “America” is not worthy of our absolute adherence, and is arguably the opposite of what they themselves would have supported (since they created the ability to amend the Constitution).
Dinesh: “And would you agree that, at the end of the day, it is the individual who serves the state and not the other way around?”
Dinesh, you’re the one advocating for us to give Donald Trump our support. He’s the symbolic head of state, and I owe him nothing. I owe him no respect, no reverence, absolutely nothing.
I owe none to the founding fathers, to the flag or to the country.
Your brand of nationalism isn’t about the state serving the individual just because you say so; show me the evidence.
You know what would show the state serving its people? Nationalized social safety nets. Minimum wage that matches the cost of living. Universal basic income. Support for our veterans and the severely mentally ill. Get off your soapbox and go lick the boots of Trump and Reagan some more.
Richard: “There are duties that we have to the state-”
He’s promptly cut off by Dinesh.
Dinesh: “But this notion of a limited government which, you know… As you know, the founders saw the government as the enemy of our rights…”
Tyrannical government is the enemy of our rights, not government in general. What rights would you have without a state that was able to uphold and enforce them? What states exist without government? Point me to the limited government paradise you’re thinking of Dinesh. Show me this utopia where everyone is happy, free and equal without much government. Meanwhile, I’ll show you statistics on how great life is in Norway (but I won’t show Richard because he’ll get back onto the white supremacy thing).
Richard: *smuggest wtf face I’ve ever seen*
Dinesh: “Uh, in other words…”
Richard: “Not really. That’s Reaganism.”
Dinesh: “Well, let’s look at the Bill of Rights.”
Which appeared in a vacuum? No wait, they were created by a government…
Dinesh: “Congress shall make no law doing this, and Congress shall make no law doing that.”
Oh, he’s not even going to name any of them. Richard is having a giggle, and I hate that I’m joining him. Dinesh is floundering.
Dinesh: “So our rights, our First Amendment right, our Second Amendment right to own a gun…”
Leave it to a Trumper to only remember the gun one.
Dinesh: “Our Fourth Amendment right, are seen as protections against a government.”
Bro, who do you think created these laws you’re half remembering off the top of your head?
Yeah, the government made laws to give citizens freedom and help stave off a tyrannical government; that’s the entire point of a government. Does he think the number of laws and amount of freedom units are inversely correlated? Does he think the current state of the Trump administration – or any part of the Nixon, Reagan and (both) Bush administrations – constitute small government?
Richard: “No individual has a right outside of a collective community. You have rights, not eternally or given by god or by nature or whoever.”
Please stop agreeing with me, Nazi.
Dinesh: “Who gives them to us?”
Who passed the bill of rights?!
Richard: “You have them because you are a part of this community. Ultimately, the state gives those rights to you.”
For the record, I don’t think Donald Trump has ever put a second of thought into this question.
Dinesh: “So, the state is the source of these rights, not the individual.”
How could an individual be the source for their own rights? That’s called anarchy, Dinesh.
Does Dinesh think he’s the source of the Second Amendment for himself? Does he not remember the whole slavery thing, where an entire group of people didn’t have rights because of their skin color? Rights exist independently of an individual, therefore an individual cannot be the source.
It’s like calling a pothole the source of a puddle.
Dinesh: “What would be your take on, say, Reagan?”
What about him?
Richard: “I do not think that he was a great president.”
Dinesh: *visible confusion*
Dinesh: Who’s your favorite president?
Richard: “There is something about, uh, Jackson.”
Let me guess, big fan of racial genocide? By the way, he’s Trump’s favorite, too.
Richard: “There’s something about Polk as well, someone who only served one term.”
Dinesh: “But, I mean, Jackson and Polk, as you know, both Democrats.”
Richard Spencer confirmed Democrat?!
Wait. No. That’s not how that works? Bet he hates Lincoln though…
Richard: “Uh, party. I mean, party is just the vessel that one uses.”
Fair point, just look at Donald. He was a Democrat, now he’s a Republican. Party is ultimately meaningless, it’s more about an individual’s views and actions. I guess Dinesh only cares about individualism when it proves his point, though.
Dinesh: “Jackson’s the founder of the Democratic Party.”
The zingers keep coming, way to conflate a 19th century racist with the 21st century Democratic party. Richard Spencer confirmed Democrat with… facts and logic.
Richard: “You can find, perhaps, elective affinities, perhaps kind of ironic affinities between myself as an identitarian and a progressive Democrat from the 1920s or something.”
The way he ends this statement makes this sound edited. And another point of agreement, you can find similarities between two things that are not the same.
Dinesh: “Have you seen the movie Birth of a Nation?”
I will not be reviewing this one, folks.
Richard: “Yes, I have.”
Dinesh: “What do you think of it?”
Oh gee, wonder how the white nationalist is going to answer. Also, I bet most of your audience likes it too, Dinesh.
Richard: “It’s an amazing film. One of the most important films ever made.”
I can’t argue with the second statement, sadly. The editing gives it a modern feel that can’t compare to any preceding silent film, and there’s no denying Griffith’s contributions to the art of filmmaking. But this is neither the time nor the place.
Richard: “Certainly a racialist component to that. It appealed to many Americans, including many presidents.”
Dinesh: “Well that’s my point… is that a progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson shows that movie in the White House to the cabinet…”
Richard: *smiles deviously while nodding his head*
Dinesh: “And this leads to a kind of Klan revival around the country. So, you see why I’m placing you in that tradition?”
So you see why Dinesh gets to declare who is and isn’t really a right-winger?
Dinesh: “Because those are… That’s your team.”
American politics in a nutshell. Your team, my team, winning and losing.
This is why we have a fascist, racist, sexual assaulting game show host as our President.
It’s not about which “side” you’re on, it’s about a proper philosophical understanding of rights, government and society. Dinesh has buried his head in 18th century sand and refuses to come up and have any sort of actual engagement with reality where we still have not achieved the equality and rights he believes in because he’s too busy saying we already have.
Richard: “Uh, if that’s progressivism, then I guess I’m a progressive.”
Thus ends the sit-down between two of the truly terrible minds of our time.
What I’ve concluded from all this is that, by Dinesh’s logic, Dinesh D’Souza is a white nationalist, Nazi, Democrat and big fan of Birth of a Nation because he and Richard Spencer are both Donald Trump supporters (who was originally a Democrat). That’s his team. Maybe now he can see why I’m placing him in that tradition.
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