Originally published at ABC News.
Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and Prof. Michael Eric Dyson debate D’Souza’s new film America.
Dinesh D’Souza appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to debate America, his new film, with Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson.
Read the transcript of the segment below.
Martha Raddatz: We’re back now with the man called the “Michael Moore of the Right,” author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. He’s out this week with the new film “America: Imagine The World Without Her,” taking on liberal critiques of the country’s past and present, but some are calling the movie historical revisionism. Here’s Jeff Zeleny with a preview.
Video: What if George Washington had been killed by a sniper’s bullet?
Reporter: Could this provocative take on American history be this summer’s box office smash?
Video: What would the world look like if America did not exist?
Reporter: Controversial filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza offers a striving defense against the country’s critics on historical issues like slavery and land taken from native Americans and against charges today of the excesses of capitalism and America’s role in the world, all pushing back against what D’Souza calls the “shame narrative.”
Video: If America is a force for good, why are they trying to make us feel bad?
Reporter: The movie’s other targets, President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Video: Hillary wanted the radicals to become the government.
Reporter: It’s a one-sided view of history that the right wing filmmaker hopes will equal the success of his last movie, “2016: Obama’s America.” That took in over $33 million as one of the highest grossing documentaries ever.
Video: It’s not a rah-rah patriotism that uncritically celebrates America.
Reporter: On this Independence weekend, a controversial look at America. New fireworks for the old partisan divide. For “This Week,” Jeff Zeleny, ABC news, Washington.
Raddatz: And Dinesh D’Souza joins us live, as well as Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who is interviewed in the film. Welcome to both of you.
Mr. D’souza, let me start with you. The majority of this film seems to be a defense against those who question anything about this country’s history.
Don’t you have to look back, especially at something like slavery, acknowledge what happened before you can move forward?
Dinesh D’Souza: Absolutely, and actually in the beginning of the film we have numerous critics of America, you included, Noam Chomsky, a native American activist, and we lay out the case against America very passionately and without me making any defense, but I think that the film then turns around and addresses the critics and makes points that get neglected. So, for example, …
Raddatz: Pretty quickly it moves on. I watched it, as I told you. I watched the entire film. It moves pretty quickly.
D’Souza: The reason is that the critique is so well known. In fact, it’s drummed into young people endlessly in schools and in colleges. What’s missing is the answer to it.
So, for example, when Martin Luther King said I’m submitting a promissory note and I demand it be cashed, what was he talking about? Actually, he was talking about the Declaration of Independence, so the reform movements in America to change things have not been breaks with the America founding, they’ve been returns to the American founding. So that’s what the film is, it’s the defense of the spirit of 1776, the same spirit that brought me to America as an immigrant, to live a life unavailable elsewhere in the world.
Michael Dyson: Well, look, to say there’s not a discontinuity between Martin Luther King Jr. and the larger America compact and project is absolutely right. The problem is, as the leftists said, it’s not progressive-ism that has made that claim, it’s people on the right. Now they’ll make an exception for Martin Luther King Jr., but those of us who are critics of the American state don’t believe America is a nation doomed to its own — hoisting its own petard. We’re saying, look, if you love America like James Baldwin said, he said “I love it more than any other nation in the world, therefore, I reserve the right to criticize her relentlessly.”
And I think the point you began with is something that we should remember: that those who are critics of America don’t hate the nation, they love the nation. They want to love it into a better future. Martin Luther King Jr. said, the night before he was murdered, America, be true to what you said on paper. If the litmus test of authentic patriotism is the commitment to an ideal and a goal that furthers the conversation about all people participating equally then that’s the kind of conversation we have.
He shouldn’t be demonized or others who succeed in his — you know, who are successors to him should not be demonized for their questioning.
Raddatz: Professor, I want to move on quickly because we don’t have too much time on this.
At the end of your film, you make a turn to politics more directly and you essentially have a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama turning this nation into a socialistic nation, something you said started when Hillary Clinton was in college.
D’Souza: Yeah, it’s not a conspiracy theory. Rather, a lot of people think that Hillary is like Bill, they go, we kind of want Billary back in the white house because — and the point we make in the film is, no, there’s actually a bridge connecting Hillary to Barack and that bridge is Saul Alinsky.
Now many of us develop our political ideas in our formative years. I was a young Reaganite in the early ’80s. Obama talks about standing at his father’s grave and having a sort of moment of revelation. Hillary met Saul Alinsky in high school, she brought him to Wellesley College, and she wrote her thesis on him. We’re not inventing a connection between them. The connection is well documented. What we show in the film is rare footage of Alinsky.
Raddatz: Professor Dyson, quickly, we have about 30 more seconds. Here’s the reality.
Dyson: Yes, she has interpreted and interpolated Alinsky, but not given the suspicions of Mr. D’souza, somebody who is trying to bring down American government. She’s trying to make that rare act of a politician in public, to bring ideas to bear upon the forces that prevail that help the nation become its best self and to work against the demons that are bespeaking, if you will, a negative impact on America, so Alinsky in terms of his impact on Obama and Hillary Clinton, I’m sure the Alinskyites would say it’s barely discernible now in their political lives.
Raddatz: Thank you both. It’s a very interesting movie. Everybody should go see it.
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