Powerful, compelling, and yes, flawed, Dinesh D'Souza's documentary "America: Imagine the World Without Her" should be required viewing in classrooms across America regardless of its minor shortcomings.
It won't be. The very people who need to see this film the most won't even allow themselves to see it - even if they were given a free copy to watch and thus would not be "profiting" the film creator. If they do see it, they'll be too consumed with their own pretentious snark to get it.
The irony is that these holdouts are the very victims of the big psychological "psy-op" that has been perpetrated on American youth since the 1960s - what D'Souza calls the "shaming" of America. And thus, so caught up in the manufactured shame and resultant rage against anyone who defends America, the well-meaning but brainwashed will miss out on an opportunity to get their implanted preconceptions challenged.
Let me state for the record that I am not a "rah rah" American patriot who waves a flag no matter what my country does. I have deep and serious critiques about our government, its foreign policy, and the good intentions of the people in charge.
But all that said, I still love America and its ideals. No other country on the planet enjoys the free speech we have. In our mother country, England, you can be arrested for tweeting out an insult against Islam. France, likewise, has Draconian "hate speech" laws that can land you more time in jail than a rapist here in America. In other parts of Europe, you cannot speak freely about your religious beliefs - if they include a traditional view of marriage and a negative view of homosexuality - because you will be arrested.
Most Americans take for granted our religious freedom. They do not understand that the freedom of religion that allows a conservative Christian to speak freely about the "sin" homosexuality also means that the Wiccan is also free to hold their midnight coven and dance naked in the forest under the moonlight. Take away the right of the conservative traditionalist - whether Christian or Muslim - to advocate for a certain belief, no matter how un-PC, means you have now also given the state the right to tell the Native American practitioner they cannot use peyote in their religious ceremonies.
It is thus the short-sighted who bash Christians for all of America's woes while ignoring the fact that it was the majority Christians who allowed Wiccans to dance naked in the moonlight here in the first place.
But I digress. The documentary "America" only briefly touches on the role of faith in America, giving it credit for helping build a community that was charitable and giving. In his brief foray into faith the film, D'Souza makes a point of sharing that conservative Christians give approximately four times more than secular leftists in America. But his comment served as nothing more than a bit of a swipe that appeals to conservatives, but doesn't do much to help open the eyes of his ideological opponents. (I know what the left will claim: That these "tea baggers" aren't giving to charity but to their churches, which are stealing money from the taxpayers by being tax exempt.)
What D'Souza does not answer is this: Why don't liberals give more? My theory is that they have put all their hopes and dreams into the state solving everything. To them, taxes are their charity. They don't feel they need to give more because the government should be able to solve all our problems.
These greater issues of government vs. private initiative are embedded themes running deep under the surface of the film, but aren't tackled directly for the most part. What D'Souza does focus on instead, to great effect, is the idea of a universal "ethic of conquest" and how the American entrepreneurial spirit is in direct opposition to this.
In D'Souza's view, only America was able to transcend the traditional use of conquest to extract wealth from others, by creating a culture of entrepreneurs. In the entrepreneurial ethic, wealth is created, not coerced or extracted from others.
With this new ethic in place, America became the most prosperous nation ever in the history of the world.
No other country has offered the economic freedom that America has. No other country has busted through class walls and allowed upward mobility no matter what your roots. No other country has offered such an explosion of creativity and innovation.
Yes, we're flawed. We've had slavery, dubious wars, and dark spots in our history. But I'm not the kind of person who throws the baby out with the bathwater. I know full well that without America, the entire world could plunge into a depressing bureaucratic techno-tyranny (under the guise of "socialism"), the likes of which the world has never seen.
So why on earth do so many Americans hate America so much? They live in a nation of unparalleled freedom and amazing prosperity - even our poor get free cellphones - and yet so many people use their ample leisure time and ubiquitous technology to trash the country that gave them everything.
In "America," D'Souza talks to some of the leading minds of the far left that have perpetrated this toxic mindset. I don't know if he just chose some of the loonier ones or what, but most of them seemed "off" to me, especially the one guy had a twitch that would make me keep my distance if I saw him in person. (He was the guy who'd be OK with an atomic bomb dropping on America if it was warranted.)
The other representatives of the left don't fare too well either. The Sioux woman who was clearly filled with resentment toward America and "saddened" by anything patriotic didn't have any problem wearing nice Western clothes or using English to speak. D'Souza pointed out that the Sioux, claiming ownership of the land around Mt. Rushmore, actually stole the land (through conquest) from other Native Americans previously.
This is where the film shines the most - when he takes each major "critique" of America and dissects it piece by piece.
The "genocide" of Native Americans? Not perpetrated by Americans but killed by plague brought over by Spaniards. The "stealing" of Mexican land? America could have taken over all of Mexico, but gave most of it back. (But more powerfully, he speaks to an honest Mexican-American who says plainly that if Mexico did take back the Southwest, he'd be packing his bags and moving to Minneapolis.)
The most powerful expose was that of the slavery narrative. I, like a lot of white Americans, get a bit annoyed at being blamed for slavery that I had no part of - especially when my ancestors came to America after slavery ended!
I did not know that at one time, white indentured servants (slaves for a certain time period, instead of a lifetime) outnumbered black slaves. I also did not know the extent to which free blacks in the south also owned slaves (in some areas, in equivalent numbers of white slave owners).
Those are facts that are going to be argued by the left - they'll try to claim that D'Souza is inflating the numbers of black slave owners. But the big picture is this: Slavery existed all over the world (it still does today) and America was the only country to go to war to end it.
(Predictably, in response, leftists are now re-writing this narrative to claim that the Civil War wasn't actually about ending slavery. See, once you point out something positive about America, they have a pathological need to move the goalposts.)
The angry, resentful activist chooses to focus on the negative (slavery) instead of the positive (the ending of slavery). This "glass half full" mindset permeates current leftist thinking and is designed, in my mind, to induce apathy, resentment, and passivity. It is not empowering or helpful to the people who are taught this message.
(Unfortunately, D'Souza did not go far enough into the reasons why this passive aggressive resentment is being fostered, but that would take him down a rabbit hole that might put off a lot of mainstream conservatives.)
Star Parker is interviewed in the film, and tells about how she just stayed on welfare for years because she didn't need to work. She had been taught this resentment narrative. It was only when she dropped the hate (by going to church and finding God) that she went to college and turned her life around.
It is the resentment narrative that has wrongly kept the first American self-made female millionaire out of the history books - daughter of slaves Madam C. J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove). It is the resentment narrative that focuses on the evils of past American wrongs instead of her rights.
It is that same resentment narrative that will, unfortunately, totally destroy any impact of the last part of D'Souza's defense - that of America giving food aid to the Afghans during our war in Afghanistan. The resentful leftist will immediately trot out "100,000 people killed in Iraq for oil!!" and that will be the end of the "discussion."
I also felt this was the weakest part of D'Souza's defense in that it simply did not go into enough detail to truly tackle the complex issues surrounding our Middle East policy. Nor did D'Souza adequately give enough attention to why we got involved with so many countries (where we supposedly overthrew democracies).
But once again, I guess this is what separates me from the die-hard leftist: Even if we've done all sorts of bad things in the name of freedom, that doesn't mean I think America needs to be overthrown and our Constitution tossed into the toilet. I want to see America return to our Constitution, not move farther away from it.
Sadly, this film did not do enough to defend the Constitution, which is under immense attack from the leftist psychos in academia right now. My own father, a subscriber to the Nation and former government employee, gave me an earful last year about how the Constitution was written by rich white male slave owners and was therefore only for rich people and needed to be overhauled.
And as far as I know, he's never been to a protest in his life.
This is how much the toxic narrative has spread, when a white middle class man living in a nice suburban neighborhood has been infected with Alinsky thinking.
Which brings us to the last part of the film - the weakest part, where D'Souza connects Saul Alinksy to the White House through Obama and Hillary Clinton. I've got two main comments on this:
1) Saul Alinsky was a creepy, bug-eyed sociopath.
2) I'm sorry, Hillary Clinton doesn't have that much power. This goes way beyond her.
D'Souza only hints at the collusion between big money and leftist resentment politics by pointing out that Obamacare was a giveaway to insurance companies and Obama was a big supporter of bank bailouts.
He then gives an overview of the growing police state, complete with picture of himself in handcuffs.
I almost wish D'Souza had waited and did a separate film on those issues. Maybe he felt pressured by his possible jail time. But I think the Obama administration overstepped when they went after D'Souza - it shows them to be petty and heavy-handed.
In reading some comments on IMDB, however, I think I know why they did it. It's an Alinsky tactic. Now, the most brainwashed Obama supporters just write D'Souza off entirely because, well, he's a "convicted felon."
And therefore just needs to be put on "ignore."
Too bad. Because if the left actually listened to D'Souza's underlying message - about creativity instead of conquest, and about optimism instead of resentment - they might realize that he's got his heart in the right place, at least.
So at the end of the film, my friend turned around to talk to a young man who was discussing Howard Zinn with his date. He was taking a measured approach to the film. I asked the young man how old he was, and he said he was 19 and soon to be going to Stanford to study history.
He commented that a lot of this anti-American sentiment is just young people "rebelling" and felt it was a phase - and that we're going through a cycle right now. He said he was perhaps "old fashioned" in that he didn't get caught up in that stuff like his peers did.
He did say he was actually optimistic and excited about the future.
It gave me some hope that such an articulate, bright young man was not buying into resentment politics. I wonder how he'll fare at Stanford - but I suspect he'll do just fine. He clearly knows how to think for himself.
The question is: Do you?
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