Originally published at FrontPage Magazine.
Dinesh D’Souza’s latest film, America, which earned a rare A+ rating from CinemaScore, is apparently such a threat to progressive ideology that Costco initially ordered the book on which the movie is based removed from its shelves. One can understand why: the film is a devastating takedown of those who see America as the primary source of evil in the world.
The picture opens with a what-if scenario that includes the assassination of George Washington by a British sniper, and the subsequent disintegration of Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Statue of Liberty, as D’Souza asks, “What would the work look like if America did not exist?”
The question is used as a vehicle to set up—and subsequently knock down–the left’s grievance agenda and its victims. Those grievances include theft of land, labor and the American Dream, as well as genocide, segregation and racism. The victims include Native Americans, black Americans, Hispanics and ultimately all Americans. “These indictments developed separately, and each has been around for a long time,” D’Souza explains. “But now they’ve come together in a single narrative of American shame.”
The main driver of that narrative is historian Howard Zinn, whose polemic, A People’s History of the United States, has been required reading in thousands of American public schools and universities for years. “When I hear young people on the campus repeat the narrative of American shame, I know they haven’t been told the whole story,” D’Souza notes.
He proceeds to fill in the gaps, explaining most of the world’s history is driven by the “conquest ethic,” where those who are conquered have their land taken and are invariably made slaves in the process. For example, while the left singles out the settlers of the New World for “stealing” Native American territory, D’Souza reveals the same land transfers occurred in precisely the same manner among tribes who successively conquered one another. The charge of genocide is debunked when D’Souza explains that far more Indians died from disease than slaughter, and the same lack of natural defenses that made Native Americans vulnerable to European-borne maladies are the ones that made Europeans susceptible to the Asian-borne diseases that devastated Europe. Tellingly, no one refers to the European tragedy as genocide.
More historical gaps are filled in with regard to the history of the Mexican War and American slavery. All of Mexico was conquered during a rebellion against the oppression of dictator Santa Ana, but half was returned, and Mexican war debt was retired in the process. And while D’Souza freely admits the legacy of slavery was theft of life and labor, he reminds us that 300,000 Union soldiers gave their lives to free the slaves. “What’s uniquely Western is the abolition of slavery,” D’Souza states. “And what’s uniquely American is the fighting of a great war to end it.”
Once again D’Souza emphasizes that singling out America for the sins of the word is a fool’s errand because slavery existed in every culture in the world from the Egyptians to the Chinese to the African to the American Indians (long before Columbus) and, as we are reminded, slavery exists even today.
D’Souza also fills in some important historical gaps with facts that would likely surprise many Americans. These include the existence of free black plantation masters who owned more than ten thousand slaves of their own, and the story of black American Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C. J. Walker, who became the nation’s first female self-made millionaire marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women.
D’Souza employs the same technique in debunking the leftist accusations of American imperialism, and the “theft” of the American Dream that capitalism ostensibly represents. From WWII to the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, D’Souza reminds Americans that not only have we stolen nothing from these countries, but expended considerable blood and treasure re-building them. And the free-market capitalism that has showered this nation with unprecedented wealth succeeds “not through coercion or conquest, but through the consent of the consumer.” “The wealth of America isn’t stolen, it’s created,” D’Souza asserts. “The ethic of conquest is universal. What’s uniquely American is the alternative, equal rights, self-determination, and wealth creation. If America did not exist, the conquest ethic would dominate the world.”
The movie points out that the American left embraces a conquest ethic all its own. “The shaming of America is not accidental, it’s part of a strategy,” he warns. It is a strategy formulated by the likes of radical leftist Saul Alinsky who was “the godfather in the art of using shame for political shakedown.” The cultural revolution of the ‘60s provided Alinsky with his army of shakedown artists who have since infiltrated media, academia and, most importantly, government. Ever-expanding government has given us a nation where agencies like the IRS, the EPA, the DOJ and the NSA “are all collecting information and storing it on every American,” D’Souza warns. He explains that Barack Obama didn’t create this liberty-stifling reality. Rather, it created him.
In the closing of the film, he lays out where the nation has been, and where it must go. “The Revolution was a struggle for the creation of America. The Civil War was a struggle for the preservation of America. World War II was a struggle for the protection of America. Our struggle is for the restoration of America.” And while he would like to see the emergence of a leader as forceful and inspiring as Washington, Lincoln, or Reagan, he makes it clear that the ultimate restoration of America must be engendered by the people themselves.
It is important to note that D’Souza freely owns up to the many of the nation’s historical shortcomings. Yet unlike the American left, he offers some much-needed–and factual—context to the narrative. Because leftists like Zin and others are more than willing to leave out so many uplifting American stories in an effort to realize their agenda of national transformation, D’Souza insists we have a moral obligation to reinstate them and prevent it from happening.
He also offers fair warning to the historical revisionists. “We won’t let them shame us. We won’t let them intimidate us. We are going to start telling the true story of America,” he declares.
D’Souza has definitely hit a leftist nerve. Their reviews of his picture ooze with condescension and disdain for his point of view, with Media Matters referring to it as “racially charged agitprop.” Yet the bet here is a lot of Americans would like to see a movie that contains stories about the goodness and greatness of our nation, even as it illuminates the cast of characters and the shame-inducing agenda that forms the heart of their efforts to denigrate American exceptionalism. Costco, whose co-founders Jim Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman are big Obama supporters, reinstated D’Souza’s book following an outpouring of protests. It is most definitely in Americans’ best interests to see what they wished to suppress.
Read more at FrontPage Magazine.
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