Since publishing its splashy “Against Trump” issue in early 2016, National Review has supposedly been the platform for a more “intellectual” conservatism; a respite from the often bigoted, “trigger the libs”-style conservatism now espoused and embraced by mainstream Republicans.
And yet, amid all that posturing about civility and a willingness to take on a Republican president, the magazine continues to associate with one of the Trump era’s loudest and most well-known mouthpieces for vile, hateful, far-right rhetoric: Dinesh D’Souza.
Once considered a superstar of book-hawking institutional conservatism in the early ’00s, the commentator, author, and convicted felon has since become a right-wing troll, racking up several years worth of ugly Twitter-based commentary that make President Trump’s outbursts seem pleasant.
D’Souza has continued to be listed on the magazine’s masthead as a contributor in every print issue, including the upcoming March 5 edition.
The firebrand’s latest offense against general human decency came Tuesday afternoon when he responded to a photograph of Florida school-shooting survivors crying after the state’s legislature voted down an assault-weapons ban.
“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” he mocked the kids who’d watched 17 people get murdered inside Stoneman Douglas High School just a few days prior—all because he disagreed with their political beliefs.
“Adults 1, kids 0,” he added.
The tweets drew swift condemnation from prominent conservatives, including the Conservative Political Action Conference—which has hosted him as a speaker many times before—calling the remarks “indefensible.”
“While it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy,” D’Souza wrote Wednesday morning. “I’m truly sorry.” (He did not, however, delete those tweets.)
And yet, his comment about the teenagers was no isolated incident. And National Review’s own star editors and writers are well-aware of that.
Over the past year, D’Souza has: suggested the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally (which led to the murder of an anti-racism protester) was a “staged event” designed to make the right look bad; shared a meme calling former President Barack Obama a “gay Muslim” and suggesting Michelle Obama is a man; started a conspiracy theory that the media covered up Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s background as an anti-Trump activist (he wasn’t); used a photo of a grieving military widow—despite her protests—to attack football players kneeling during the national anthem; and defended Adolf Hitler, who sent thousands of gay people to death camps, as being “NOT anti-gay.”
Each inflammatory comment prompted a flurry of more moderate conservative Twitter users to ask National Review editors why D’Souza was still associated with the magazine. The outrage was usually met with silence.
Several of D’Souza’s obnoxious tweets, however, have occasionally prompted magazine staffers to publicly criticize him.
In early 2017, D’Souza called civil-rights icon Rosa Parks an “OVERRATED DEMOCRAT” whose historic 1955 protest against segregated buses is “absurdly inflated” by the left. National Review’s top digital editor Charles C.W. Cooke fired back: “Not only is this is incorrect, it's an attitude that would never be struck about a soldier on, say, Veterans Day.” He added: “[E]ven if Parks was a minor player (she wasn't), she'd still deserve to be lionized.”
Several weeks after the deadly Charlottesville rally, D’Souza promoted the theory that billionaire George Soros funded anti-Trump protest groups like Antifa. “George Soros, who now funds violent ‘anti-fascist’ groups in America,” D’Souza wrote, “served as a collection boy for Hitler and the Nazis.”
National Review’s star correspondent Kevin Williamson hit back in a series of now-deleted tweets (Williamson recently deleted his account). “Soros was a three-year-old Hungarian Jew when Hitler came to power,” he wrote. “It is a despicable smear,” he said in another. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” Williamson tweeted to D’Souza.
And in November, D’Souza posted an image of Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson, crying as she recalled the Republican Senate candidate allegedly attempting to rape her four decades ago, when she was 16 years old. D’Souza’s take? Her tears were a “PERFORMANCE.”
That comment earned a sharp public rebuke from National Review senior writer David French, who asked: “What has happened to you?”
When D’Souza went on to declare in November that the credible sexual-misconduct allegations against Roy Moore were “most likely fabricated,” one Twitter user flagged it for the magazine’s top star Jonah Goldberg. “Is this guy still on the National Review masthead?” the user asked.
“Honestly dunno. Will check,” Goldberg replied.
The senior editor never followed up. But D’Souza was, indeed, still on the masthead. And he has continued to be.
National Review wasted no time in 2012 cutting ties with long-time columnist John Derbyshire for his overtly racist screed explaining to his children that black people are dangerous, dumb, corrupt, and should generally be avoided.
In an essay explaining the decision to fire Derbyshire, National Review editor in chief Rich Lowry lamented that the columnist’s “latest provocation,” published in Taki’s Magazine, “lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible.”
The same can definitively be said about D’Souza’s entire breadth of commentary over the past several years.