Right-wing pundit and author Dinesh D'Souza will speak at a Penn College Republicans event on Nov. 12.
The event is titled “A Legal Immigrant's Case Against Multiculturalism"; D'Souza was born in India in 1961 and became a naturalized United States citizen 30 years later.
D'Souza created numerous highly grossing political documentaries and has been described as a conservative provocateur known for controversial statements. In September, he compared teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg to Nazi propaganda. In February 2018, he mocked the survivors of the Parkland mass shooting. In August 2017, D'Souza promoted the conspiracy theory that the Charlottesville white nationalist rally was staged.
Penn College Republicans Communications Director and Wharton sophomore Corey Paredes said the group chose to invite D’Souza because of his willingness to discuss issues that were often ignored in academia.
“Mr. D’Souza is a proud legal immigrant, patriot, and orator who represents a unique and interesting perspective on many contemporary issues that is rarely explored by academics,” Paredes wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Paredes wrote that D’Souza’s visit also served to highlight the group’s dedication to freedom of expression.
“Inviting Mr. D'Souza is in keeping with our deep commitment to upholding free speech and free inquiry, especially by underrepresented voices on college campuses,” Paredes wrote.
Penn College Democrats Political Director and College junior Owen Voutsinas-Klose said the group opposes D’Souza coming to Penn, attacking D’Souza as a “convicted felon.”
“He’s taken many hateful stances in the past,” Voutsinas-Klose said. “It seems like CR's main objective is to bring provocateurs, offensive people, to campus, rather than actual Republican politicians.”
Voutsinas-Klose said the premise of the event was offensive, referencing the title of the event, that will argue against multiculturalism.
“Who is he to offer an opinion on which cultures are superior to others?” Voutsinas-Klose said. “The premise of that is beyond ridiculous.”
D’Souza’s visit to campus comes at a time where other speakers have been met with protests over their allegedly offensive views. Conservative activist Candace Owens faced protests at a Penn speaking engagement hosted by conservative groups last April, while an event featuring former ICE Director Thomas Homan was shut down last week due to student protests.
Voutsinas-Klose said, however, the group currently has no plans to protest D’Souza.
“Penn Dems generally doesn’t protest other clubs’ speakers,” Voutsinas-Klose added. “I’m sure there will be [protests].”
D’Souza himself has faced controversy over past remarks and has faced protests at previous speaking engagements, such as at a Dartmouth event earlier this year and at an American University event last year. Protesters attacked D’Souza’s past comments, holding up signs displaying the speaker’s past quotes about topics such as slavery.
“The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well,” D’Souza wrote in a 1995 book, "The End of Racism."
Paredes acknowledged the right of protesters to free expression, but condemned potential disruptions to conservative speakers.
“College Republicans does not condone any disruption to civil discourse; however, students have a reciprocal right to demonstrate their attitudes in a peaceful, nondisruptive manner that allows those attending the event to learn without threat to their personal safety,” Paredes wrote.
Penn Law professor Amy Wax has drawn considerable media scrutiny for her comments on immigration and multiculturalism in recent years, such as her remarks that immigrants are responsible for “litter” and proposing that academics should grant more credence to the argument that America would be better off with “more whites and fewer nonwhites.” While Wax has said these remarks were taken out of context, student leaders have called for her firing.
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