Conservative filmmaker and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza is under fire for allegedly mocking survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14.
Florida state lawmakers voted down a ban on assault weapons less than a week after 17 people were killed during a rampage at a Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. When the ban didn’t pass, D’Souza shared a photo of the survivors’ horrified reactions with the caption “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”
D’Souza was met with swift criticism from both Twitter users and other conservatives, and has been denounced by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual event that D’Souza has spoken at several times, according to The Wrap.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. D’Souza is Accused of Posting Controversial Tweets Targeting Survivors of the Parkland Shooting
D’Souza is accused of taunting survivors of the Stoneman Douglas massacre after he posted multiple tweets responding to Florida lawmakers voting down a ban on assault rifles.
His tweet read “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” accompanied by a picture of students reacting to the news of the ban.
An hour earlier, he tweeted “Adults 1, kids 0” as the news was breaking of the ban being denied. D’Souza was met with immediate disapproval from those objecting to the mockery of survivors of a mass shooting.
The attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed 17 victims was allegedly carried out by 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, who was taken into custody. He had reportedly been banned from the school for threatening his peers, student survivors told officials, the International Business Times (IBT) reports.
Survivors from the mass shooting have since started advocating for gun control, with 100 students scheduled to meet lawmakers in Tallahassee on Wednesday, and a “March for Our Lives” protest expected to take place in Washington D.C. next month, according to IBT.
2. D’Souza Was Charged with a Felony After Making an Illegal Campaign Contribution in 2012
In 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty to using a “straw donor,” to make an illegal campaign contribution to a 2012 United States senate campaign, according to Politico. A straw donor is somebody who illegally uses another person’s money to make a political contribution in their own name.
D’Souza entered a guilty plea in federal court after he was charged with making $20,000 worth of illegal contributions to the New York Senate campaign of Wendy Long, as well as causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission, Politico reports.
The felony count that D’Souza admitted guilt on carries a maximum prison sentence of two years. However, D’Souza’s lawyers reached a plea agreement with the government, calling for a sentence of 10 to 16 months, reports Politico. He was sentenced to five years of probation with the first eight months to be served in a community confinement center, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement on fbi.gov.
In addition to the probationary term and confinement sentence, D’Souza was also sentenced to a mandatory eight-hour day of community service every week of his five-year term of probation, weekly counseling sessions and a $30,000 fine, according to the statement.
3. D’Souza Describes Himself as a Scholar, Author and “Public Intellectual”
D’Souza is an Indian American conservative political commentator and a well-known author of several New York Times best-selling books, according to his website. He is an outspoken Obama critic and wrote the book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, which eventually led to D’Souza’s first film, 2016: Obama’s America. The film became the second highest grossing political documentary of all time, surpassing Michael Moore’s Sicko and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, his website says.
His website states that he has written and released a variety of other books and movies, including his documentary film and book Hillary’s America. D’Souza is also a staunch defender of Christianity and has published numerous books on the Christian faith, it’s relevance to Western Civilization, and his critique of Atheism.
D’Souza is a former policy analyst in the Reagan’s White House, and served as a John M. Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was also the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he worked as the president of The King’s College in New York City from 2010 to 2012, his website states.
D’Souza was born in Bombay and came to the United States as an exchange student. He graduated from Dartmouth College and became a naturalized citizen in 1991, according to his website.
4. CPAC Removed D’Souza’s Speaker Profile from Site After Controversial Tweets
The Conservative Political Action Conference, otherwise known as CPAC, responded to a Tweet urging CPAC to remove D’Souza from the event.
CPAC responded to the Tweet, claiming it was “fake news” and that D’Souza wasn’t scheduled as a speaker for the 2018 conference. CPAC claimed that the picture on their site was an archived speaker profile, and that they were removing it immediately.
“His comments are indefensible,” the Tweet reads.
5. Critics Condemned D’Souza’s Tweets, Calling Him Depraved and Evil
His comments infuriated many social media users, who quickly lashed out at D’Souza, calling him depraved, evil and an “expert troll.”
“Let it never be said that Dinesh does not actively root for the death of children,” wrote journalist Jonathan M. Katz, according to IBT.
Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffrey also denounced his comments, the Wrap reports.
“Imagine thinking the upside of trolling liberals surpassed rock-bottom human decency toward kids who’ve seen their friends killed,” said Jeffery.
Many others brought up his criminal history, commenting on his felony conviction and criminal background. Others also called him an adulterer, bringing up his alleged affair with a woman he introduced as a his fiancee after spending a night in a hotel room with her, despite still having a wife, according to Salon.