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Provoke him at your own risk

Dinesh D'Souza writes a hugely popular blog on AOL that, in one week under review, examined the issue of slavery, the anti-god questions raised by neo-atheists led by Richard Dawkins, recent 'research' that girls are apt to chose husbands that resemble their fathers, a few of the more embarrassing fatwas coming out of Egypt, and a law about to be passed in Louisiana that bans those baggy pants much favored by the hip-hop breed, where your underpants show.

None of that is the reason, though, why the Mumbai-born D'Souza was rated, by no less than the left-leaning The New York Times, as one of the most influential conservative authors and commentators on public policy.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that the former policy analyst in the Ronald Reagan White House has, through his ideological views, become an integral part of the debate between the liberal left and conservative right.
in his words
'I am not urging that any line of inquiry be 'shut down.' I am saying it is foolish to blame Islam when it has been around for 1,300 years and Islamic terrorism has been a problem for the past 25 years. Is it even reasonable to blame Mohammad or the Koran?'
Photo: Paresh Gandhi

These views have come to us via best-selling books like Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, End of Racism: Principles of Multiracial Society, and his most recent The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and its Responsibility for 9/11.

These books, and a willingness to take critics head on, have made D'Souza a popular speaker on the conservative circuit and on an entire gamut of talk shows, from ABC's Nightline, CNN's Crossfire and NBC's The Today Show through the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News.

Around him has sprung up an entire cottage industry of Dinesh-bashing. Though the most active are the left-leaning bloggers, even mainstream publications are not exempt. 'Ratfink writes new book' was how James Wolcott, cultural critic for Vanity Fair, reacted to the publication of The Enemy at Home. Alan Wolfe in The New York Times called it 'a national disgrace', while Esquire's Mark Warren challenged the author to a fist-fight.

What is it about this guy, who came to the United States as a teenager on a Rotary Scholarship and majored in English from Dartmouth College?

Just this: His views are, more often than not, far right of right. His latest book, thus, offers a twin thesis: Various actions of then President Clinton fuelled the Muslim anger that led to the terrorist attacks of 9/11; simultaneously, various policies advocated by the left, including abortion rights, contraception for teenagers, and gay rights, are viewed in the Muslim world as an assault on Islamic values.

It is this sort of thing that makes the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford such a divisive -- and influential -- person; someone neither the community, nor the country, can afford to ignore.