Here is a man who spent his formative years—the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.
Dinesh D’Souza in an essay for Forbes
Argumentum ad hominem, the character attack. From the Latin, meaning “argument to man.”
Dinesh D’Souza, one of the intellectual pillars of the always-right wing, cut his fangs at the Dartmouth Review, a right-wing student paper. Figaro, who worked at Dartmouth College, met him a couple of times. The young man spoke American reasonably well for someone who spent his formative years in India (next door to Pakistan).
His latest article shows the man’s mastery of the character attack. D’Souza turns a set of less-than-ominous facts into the portrayal of a secret foreigner, and goes on to accuse the President of being an “anti-colonialist,” a strange accusation given that America owes its existence to anti-colonialism.
Want to dissect an ad hominem? Hold up a magnifying glass to each ominous-sounding fact.
- How do you define “off the American mainland”? Canada separates Sarah Palin’s home state from the rest of us. (Palin bragged about seeing Russia from Alaska!) Are you implying that only 48 states are truly American?
- How much time did Obama spend in Indonesia? (Four years with his white American mother.)
- How much time did Obama spend growing up in Pakistan? (None; he visited it once in college.)
- What does “multiple” journeys to Africa mean? More than one? (He visited twice before he became President.)
- “Subsequent journeys to Africa” implies that he never visited Africa during his formative years. (He didn’t.)
Under the magnifying glass D’Souza’s accusations look innocuous, even admirable. In these tribal times, closely examining ad hominem attacks not only make you smarter; they make you a better citizen.