In Lecture to Students, Conservative Writer Praises Liberty, Free Will

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"Our long-term goal is to turn Muslims into classical liberals," said a controversial right-wing ideologue who spoke at UC Berkeley yesterday.

Hoover Institution fellow Dinesh D'Souza, who spoke to a welcoming student audience, said the United States was superior to other countries because of "American values" of liberty and free will.

"Third-world intellectuals are unable to conceive American greatness," D'Souza said in his speech, which was sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans and the California Patriot.

A domestic policy analyst during the Reagan Administration, D'Souza spoke about reasons people oppose American foreign policy, both in the past and present. He argued against those criticisms.

In discussing the Western world's international dominance, D'Souza said many countries throughout the world want to emulate it.

Extremist Muslims fear the transplantation of American values into Islam will undermine faith in Allah, D'Souza said.

Rejecting the idea that Western civilization rose to power by oppressing the third world, he said the West's affluence and power was a result of its invention of democracy, science and capitalism.

Western colonialism, he said, ultimately proved "beneficial" for the colonized groups. While it did "incalculable harm" to those who were colonized, it helped their descendants in the long run, he said.

D'Souza attributed his ability to study in the United States and hold positions in government to British colonization of India.

It was Western colonialism that allowed him to get to his current position as a political analyst, he said.

D'Souza immigrated to the United States from India at the age of 16 and earned his bachelor's degree at Dartmouth College.

He began his political career as editor of the Dartmouth Review, the conservative campus publication. He gained notoriety when he published a private correspondence between two homosexual students and an exposť on an undergraduate woman's sex life.

High rates of immigration to the United States prove the West is not only beneficial to third-world people, but superior to other cultures, he said.

"An immigrant votes with his feet against his own culture," he said. "If all cultures are equal, why would anyone leave home?"

D'Souza went on to praise the American value of free will, saying the United States is unique because its citizens are able to choose their destiny, as opposed to the third world, where destiny is determined at birth.

This process is "deeply threatening to the Islamic world," D'Souza said. "(Free will tells Muslims), 'I don't have to listen to Allah, only to my inner self.'"

Islam's value of virtue over liberty causes its followers to believe they are superior to Americans because they are trying to institutionalize the will of God, he said, adding that liberty is a prerequisite to virtue.

Many audience members agreed with D'Souza's critique of American values.

"Any American values the freedoms we have," said Marla Wood, a UC Berkeley student. "Our enemies, especially our Islamic enemies, oppose these freedoms for the reasons (D'Souza) mentioned."

Though not all students agreed with D'Souza, there were no major disturbances like those that plagued previous speaking events hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans.

Last spring, the same groups sponsored a talk by David Horowitz on the heels of his controversial college paper advertisement campaign discouraging reparations for slavery.

That talk was heavily protested both within the lecture hall and outside. It ended abruptly when Horowitz and a member of the audience engaged in a heated exchange and it appeared that, amid heavy police presence, the event was getting out of hand.


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