Conservative author and political commentator Dinesh D’Souza decried a perceived censorship of thought on college campuses and defended the policies of President Donald Trump at a talk held by the Columbia University College Republicans on Tuesday night.
The last high-profile speaker invited by CUCR was former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was scheduled to speak on campus last December but canceled for undisclosed reasons. D’Souza described protests that shut down Yiannopoulos’ speech at UC Berkeley last month as “mass protesters in black outfits looking, in a sense, like stormtroopers, using threats and force” to prevent him from speaking on campus.
D’Souza noted that the audience of over 100 people was civil, admitting that he had “expected a stormier presence.”
D’Souza spent most of the discussion focused on the histories of the Democratic and Republican parties, insisting that “the Democratic Party, and later the progressive left” are “from its origins, the party of racism.”
He also linked accusations that Trump is fascist, racist, and bigoted—coming from the left and from college campuses like UC Berkeley and Columbia—with what he sees as a larger problem of repression within academia, Hollywood, and the mainstream media.
Accusing the “repressive tolerance” of college campuses of giving students the “moral indignation” and “willingness to trample on free speech,” D’Souza claimed that students do not learn “our actual history.”
“Why is it that these undisputed facts are not taught in our elite universities?” D’Souza asked. “The actual story about American politics is hidden, not just from the campus, but from the culture.”
In the Q&A session that followed the talk, one student expressed to Mr. D’Souza the frustration of being a conservative on campus.
“I feel like us as conservatives, we have a problem,” he said. “We could present all the facts that you just said, and the leftists won’t listen to us because it doesn’t matter what we say, everybody who’s a conservative is a racist.”
It was the causes of that frustration that D’Souza sought to reveal and address.
“That’s why I’m here at Columbia,” D’Souza said at the end of his talk. “Ultimately, it is to invite you into a project which is really a liberal project. Opening the American mind.”