October 13, 2021
On the second season premiere of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, a segment called “Indians: Bad as We Want Them to Be” showcases a bunch of high-achieving Brown kids who look up to bad Indian role models. Imagine a young science student who looks up to John Kapoor for teaching her she can still be a doctor and be in the drug game. Or a boy afraid he can’t be hardcore with a name like Raj, until he comes across Raj(at) Gupta, who was jailed for insider trading. One kid, in the midst of a spelling bee, says: “As a National Merit scholar, I was obsessed with getting the right answer, but Dinesh D’Souza taught me that I don’t have to. I don’t even have to say things that make sense. I can be a complete f***ing lunatic.”
Dinesh D’Souza, now 60, has been called many things during his career: a troll, a fraud, a crazy Indian uncle. He has published several best-selling books, made documentaries, and currently runs the eponymous The Dinesh D’Souza Podcast. He is a prolific tweeter and a right-wing darling. He’s also made a name for himself for saying the worst things at the worst possible times. His beliefs include saying Christopher Columbus was not racist, Adolf Hitler was not anti-gay, and that the Parkland school shooting was the “worst news since [the shooting survivors’] parents told them to get summer jobs.”
“The initial appeal to me of America was not economic opportunity, but that it allowed you to do things with your life that you couldn’t do elsewhere,” explained Dinesh D’Souza, while reflecting on his childhood in India. “In America, if I really wanted to, I could become a comedian. In India, if you told people you wanted to become a comedian, they would want to give you medicine.”
Decades later, America has yet to embrace the conservative polemicist as a comedian. Yet, it cannot be denied that D’Souza, who boasts 1.8 million Twitter followers, has a career arc that closely mirrors the evolution of the modern conservative movement. D’Souza’s progression from an institutional Ivy-Leaguer to a viral Twitter troll mirrors how the Republican Party shifted so quickly from the party of John McCain to the party of Donald Trump.