When Dinesh D’Souza his first film 2016: Obama’s America, it became a surprise hit with some $30 million in box office receipts. That placed D’Souza’s film as the second-highest grossing political documentary in American history, and the two main predictions in his film – that America would shrink on the world stage and that Obama would double the national debt – have without question come true. D’Souza’s further prediction that Obama would preside over the formation of an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East also seems to be coming to fruition.
But this week, D’Souza releases his second film, this one titled America: Imagine A World Without Her. It’s a bit sunnier than the first effort, in that it defends this country from the accusations and indictments leftist critics like Howard Zinn and Ward Churchill have made of it, though D’Souza does spend some time at the end warning that we’re losing the country we grew up in and we’d better fight to preserve it.
The bulk of the film is an answer to five charges leveled against America by the left: that the country was stolen from the native people who lived here prior to Columbus’ arrival, that the American southwest was stolen from Mexico in the 1848 Mexican war, that the country was built on labor stolen from African slaves, that American foreign policy has been based on theft and rape of resources from foreign nations and that evil corporations are stealing the American dream from the middle class.
All of those indictments share a similar character – namely, that while there is a grain of truth to them, it’s only a grain, and further there isn’t a country on the planet which could withstand the criticism America is supposed to endure.
As an example, the accusation of the theft of land from the Indians is one which is overblown. As D’Souza says, whatever one thinks of Columbus’ actions upon arriving in the New World, he never set foot on the North American mainland – and the people who ultimately founded the United States of America wouldn’t arrive on the continent for another 150 years. But by the time those settlers did arrive, some 80 percent of the native American population who existed in 1492 had perished from diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadors. Is that unfortunate? Of course. But as D’Souza points out, disease wiping out a huge portion of the population was something which had devastated Europe in the 14th century, as the bubonic and pneumonic plague arriving from Asia had killed off a third of the Europeans at that time. The settlers who came to this continent therefore found a very sparsely-populated expanse of land to build a country upon.
D’Souza doesn’t argue that those settlers, and the America they founded, did not engage in conquest. In fact, he says the conquest ethic is the default position among humankind – looting and plundering the land, goods and resources of one’s neighbor is what human societies have engaged in on a fairly constant basis since the beginning of time, and there isn’t a country on earth which hasn’t been fought over by conquerors. He points out that the various Indian tribes had engaged in that very same activity prior to the Europeans’ arrival, and in fact the concept of commerce as the primary means of achieving wealth – for example, the Dutch settlers buying the island of Manhattan for $700 in today’s money from the natives who didn’t even live there, and then turning that real estate into perhaps the priciest on the planet – is a phenomenon America brought into the world.
The other four indictments are treated similarly. America’s sins are sins of which every other country on earth are similarly guilty. The difference is that America, more than any other nation, has risen above them and brought a new ethic to the world stage. American optimism, rule of law, individual freedom, limited government, beneficence and charity, military power used for altruistic ends, technology to improve the lives of regular people – no other country on earth can boast of a record like ours.
D’Souza’s argument is perhaps the boldest and strongest anyone has made against the academic and political Left’s attacks on the country, but it isn’t new or novel. It’s what we all know but aren’t saying.
He then turns to the actions those who indict the country and are now running it have taken in efforts to remake it into something else. Chief among those are the IRS scandal and the NSA scandal, which present the federal government as an entity which no longer exists to protect individual freedom but is now hostile to it. D’Souza delves into the role of the communist community organizer Saul Alinsky in influencing the modern Left, shining a light on Alinsky’s tactics and the effect they can have on a society when applied with the tools of federal power. And yes, his own legal problems stemming from his attempts to funnel money to a friend’s long-shot Senate campaign in New York make it into the discussion as well – with a faint hint at something relatively obvious, which is that he’s being selectively prosecuted and might bring jail time for something which normally brings a fine and little more.
In short, the film is a challenge to the American people to recapture the country from the people who insist on unmaking and remaking it, and a defense of what it has always been.
And finally, we suggest sticking around into the credits – because if you do, you’ll get to hear one of the most stirring renditions of the Star Spangled Banner you’ll ever come across…