Princeton University historian Kevin Kruse offers lessons in how to push back against the claims of the far rightHistorians in the News
tags: Dinesh DSouza, Kevin Kruse
We live in an era of viral lies. According to an analysis from the Washington Post, President Donald Trump has publicly lied over 6,000 times since he took office. Since the day of his inauguration, his press secretaries and spokespeople have followed this example by issuing blatant untruths and falsified video to support their agenda. On social media, high-profile right-wing pundits like Charlie Kirk and Dinesh D'Souzapromote false claims to their millions of followers. Worst of all, perhaps, there's reason to doubt whether a lot of these right-wing leaders even believe their own lies, or whether they see them merely as a way to spread propaganda and to "trigger the libs." When one side doesn't even care about accuracy, what's the role of the expert?
Princeton University historian Kevin Kruse, who has written two books on the history of American conservatism, says that it's vital to engage and refute public dishonesty of this sort. Over the last few years, Kruse and other experts have been bringing evidence and expertise to well-curated public Twitter threads that rebut lies and historical misinformation. This year, Kruse vaulted to new levels of visibility (and gained around 150,000 Twitter followers) when he took on Dinesh D'Souza's claims that the Republican Party had never pursued a "Southern strategy" to attract racist white voters away from the mid-century Democrats. With humor, animated gifs, screenshots of primary sources, and lots of references to the work of other scholars, Kruse dismantled D'Souza's ahistorical argument piece by piece.
Let's jump forward to your ongoing debates with Dinesh D'Souza, which seems to have vaulted your visibility to new heights. How did that get started
There was one right before the Fourth of July [this year]. I remember being at the beach, picking up my phone and saying, "Oh God that's not good." It really blew up and we had a series of back-and-forths where he would make claims, I would fact-check, and then he'd move the goal posts.
People really didn't like what he was doing and people liked someone with some knowledge pushing back on it. [It turns out that] dunking on D'Souza is a great way to build a following….