Ayers and D’Souza Face Off

In an event billed “the Ultimate Fight Between Left and Right,” Bill Ayers, former domestic terrorist and leader of Weather Underground turned education theorist, and Dinesh D’Souza, bestselling author and director of 2016: Obama’s America, squared off in Spaulding Auditorium here at Dartmouth College on January 30. Ayers, D’Souza, The Dartmouth Review, the College Republicans, and the Young America’s Foundation hosted the event while our fearless Editor-in-Chief Nick Desatnick moderated. The debate, which focused on the question “What’s so great about America?”, resulted in a spirited dialogue between the two contestants–one which D’Souza clearly won.


Ayers opened with a rambling and unfocused speech, spending an ungodly time on his supposedly great hometown of Chicago, which happens to have one of the highest murder rates among the largest metro areas in the United States. On the other hand, D’Souza responded forcefully and with great clarity, expounding how the uniquely American invention of wealth creation made us a great nation. Ayers pointed to obscure social activists that most in the audience could not relate to, while D’Souza pointed to universally recognizable figures such as Jefferson, Voltaire, and Moses. The verdict is clear: D’Souza intellectually dominated Ayers.

Unfortunately, many of the student “questions” asked of the speakers were downright insipid. A question posed about atheism and religion came out entirely incoherent, while another “question” came from a South Korean student who merely lectured D’Souza on the United States, empire, and imperialism. To this, and great applause, D’Souza rebutted that South Korea would have been engulfed by the communists without the intervention of the United States. Yet another student rambled on about how Israel is an “apartheid” state, taking upon himself the discredited views of The Dartmouth Radical.

All in all, however, the debate was an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating experience. The audience, thoroughly engaged, responded with great enthusiasm and applause to the various arguments posed by the speakers. Given the success of this event, the Review hopes to host semi-annual debates in the future in order to provide a valuable forum for higher-level discourse that can often seem lacking on campus.

–John Lexington


  • ’16

    You can't take a man who, however radical and unprincipled, does in fact represent the mainstream views of the right (maybe the small conservative population on this campus is more moderate than D'Souza, but I'm speaking broadly here) and pit him against someone who almost nobody, even the most populist and progressive liberal like me, can identify with, then bill it "The Ultimate Fight Between the Right and the Left." I mean that's just guaranteeing a victory for the "right," both literally and symbolically, which I suppose is fine considering all the left-leaning campus groups (sensibly) declined to co-sponsor. So essentially the event is just a ploy by the Review to make D'Souza and the conservative voice look good on a campus where it is so unpopular. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the event tremendously, but that's it- I just enjoyed it; I was entertained. When you pit two individuals so far extreme on either side against each other, you will not (and we did not) get the "higher-level discourse" you describe. It's just entertainment. While I agree with the article that the questions were mostly downright insipid, my favorite was the girl who got up and essentially said "I wasn't too familiar with either of your views coming into this event, if anything I'd have been predisposed to agree more with D'Souza, but what I'd like to ask Mr. D'Souza now is if he actually believes any of the crap he spews," and then went on to repeat some of his worst comments throughout the debate (namely the ones about slavery, and the ones about what the poorest Americans "have") and ask if it was all a media ploy.