22 November 2013
What’s Great About America: Fallacies and Hidden Agendas
Dinesh D’Souza, a distinguished writer, is infamous for persuading his audiences to accept his views through clever use of fallacy. When he first began his public career at Dartmouth College, he was already known as “Distort D’Newsa” because of his conservative stance, which greatly affected his arguments. He rose to national fame when he served as a policy advisor for the conservative Ronald Reagan. In his essay What’s Great About America, D’Souza effectively argues his view that America is great, with partial truths. Instead of glorifying America’s successes, he focuses on hot-button issues and undermines liberal opinions. Even though he manipulates the audience with obvious lies about liberals, he manages to get away with it and sell millions of books. D’Souza’s use of rhetoric and his method of telling the readers what they want to hear help him achieve his goal of presenting America as a model nation. D’Souza, however, has an ulterior motive. He uses red herring, a fallacy in which he presents an irrelevant topic in order to divert attention from the real issue, as he presents patriotism as a distraction from his real agenda. His agenda is to persuade his readers that liberals have an inaccurate, unrealistic, and deceptive perspective. Liberals actively strive to change our nation for the better. This often leads to their directing of attention to America’s flaws in hopes of inspiring movements to eliminate these flaws. D’Souza personally believes that such attention to failure degrades our nation; therefore, he makes it a point of emphasis to disprove such criticism. By establishing the subjects of his essay as patriotism and liberalism and providing distorted reasons to feel patriotic, D’Souza gradually convinces his unknowing audience to accept his agenda of attacking liberalism. In the beginning of the essay, D’Souza instantly utilizes fallacies and reveals his dislike of liberals. He claims “leftists continue to fulminate about American foreign policy, which they blame for most of the evils in the world… Clearly, anti-Americanism doesn't just find support in cafes in Cairo, Tehran, and Paris; it is also a home-grown phenomenon. In the view of America's critics, both domestic and foreign, America can do no right” (D’Souza 1). The words “fulminate,” “evil,” “anti-Americanism,” and “America can do no right” all inspire prejudice towards liberals by making them look irrational and judgmental. D’Souza assumes extremes; for example, he assumes all critics and leftists hold such beliefs about America. By stating Cairo, Tehran, and Paris, D’Souza uses the fallacy of guilt by association, rejecting an argument or claim because the person proposing likes someone whom is disliked by another. He appeals to readers’ emotions in mentioning cities known typically for their dislike of America. The use of pathos causes readers to obtain a negative perspective of anyone who criticizes America. D’Souza continues to use these rhetorical strategies throughout the essay to manipulate the reader’s reasoning. In his last sentence, he makes a blunt assertion that critics of America believe “America can do no right”. He fails to mention that there are critics who acknowledge America’s flaws and bring those flaws to light in order to encourage change and create a better nation. By critics, D’Souza refers to liberals. As part of his hidden agenda, he casts these liberals into a bad light by presenting only extremes, giving readers only two options: loving your country or not loving your country, being a patriot or being liberal. This is known as false dilemma, proposing only two choices when in actuality there are more than two possibilities. Because readers are quick to identify as patriots, they essentially eliminate any middle ground and set themselves up for D’Souza’s next fallacy. D’Souza...
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