Earlier this year, Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, a former adjunct professor at King’s College, wrote an exposé for Killing the Buddha on the small Evangelical and—at least in the eyes of its authorities, if not in those of all of its students—politically conservative college housed in New York’s Empire State Building. Fitzgerald, who was “not asked back” following his first year at King’s (and, it seems, likely would have resigned, in any case), concluded his piece with a lament over the college’s decision, in 2010, to hire Dinesh D’Souza as its new president. “Twenty years ago,” he wrote, “D’Souza was writing about illiberal education; today he is implementing it.”
Now, Andrew Marantz, of New York Magazine, takes a closer look at D’Souza’s tenure, the college’s sense of its vocation, and the student body being trained to become, in D’Souza’s words, “dangerous Christians.” Which is not to say that all of King’s students, or faculty, fit the bill—indeed, some quoted in the article appear less than pleased with D’Souza’s presidency:
When I ask [students Josh Smith and David Dantzler] to describe their teachers and classmates, each uses the phrase “the smartest people I’ve ever met.” But when talk turns to D’Souza, their enthusiasm seems to dim. “I think he has some … interesting ideas,” Smith stammers.
If the board of trustees hoped a marquee conservative would help with fund-raising, their gamble could still pay off. Yet signs suggest that the King’s community may find D’Souza more divisive than galvanizing. Some King’s professors are considering resignation next fall rather than pledging allegiance to their new president. “I mean, I’m a conservative,” one tells me. “I didn’t vote for Obama. But I don’t hate him.”
Rynn Reed, a rising sophomore from Dallas with blonde hair and a nose ring, identifies herself as a progressive. “The students and most of the professors are totally smart and open to argument,” she says, but D’Souza can be too strident. “I would hate to see King’s written off as a right-wing breeding ground, but there’s definitely potential for that with him.” Another student who wishes to remain anonymous says of D’Souza, “He’d rather shout at his opponents than listen to them. That kind of aggressive rhetoric gives us no credibility and is not what I thought King’s was supposed to be all about.”