The new movie Death of a Nation, by Dinesh D’Souza, is now out in theaters. Its main premise is that Donald Trump finds himself governing over an extremely divided nation, much as Abraham Lincoln did just before and during the Civil War. Like in his previous movies, the protagonists are the Republicans and conservatives. The antagonists are the Democrats and members of the far-left. The movie asks the question: Can the republic be saved from tearing itself apart yet again? In Lincoln’s America, the dividing line was over slavery, an institution supported, D’Souza points out, by Democrats in the north and the south. In Trump’s America, the dividing line is now between two competing visions for America, one an America true to its founding principles of freedom, limited government, and free market capitalism, and another one requiring a fundamental change away from those principles that would have America less free, with more dependence upon government, one headed toward socialism.
Death of a Nation attributes the division faced by President Trump in part to a deliberate attempt by some in academia and the media to hide the left-wing, socialist roots of fascism, and the Democrat Party’s historical association with slavery and other forms of racism. D’Souza sets out to correct this by showing the history of the Fascist and NAZI parties and their ties to Marxism. He also debunks the notion of racism being a Republican problem by showing the historic ties of slavery and Jim Crow laws to the Democrat Party.
It had some shortcomings, the musical pieces were nice but superfluous. The movie’s title “Death of a Nation” never really gets satisfactorily explained along the way, though it’s clearly a reference to the D.W. Griffithmovie “The Birth of a Nation” which was the first movie ever screened at the White House. While it does not spend a lot of time on comparing Trump’s situation to Lincoln’s, D’Souza achieves his other main goal of countering the progressive narrative that Republicans, especially Trump supporters are fascists and racists exceedingly well. Some critics say the movie rewrites history; no, it corrects the fallacious version that’s been pushed by leftists in academia for decades. Casual accusations of racism and fascism by the Left levied at conservatives will never again go unchallenged. Thanks to D’Souza, the spell is broken.
Dinesh D’Souza Talks About America’s Changing Morality
Wednesday night, I got to meet one of my heroes of conservative thought, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. As soon as I saw his picture on a New Jersey Family Policy Council mailer, I knew I just had to go. Luckily I was able to manage a ticket. I’ve been a fan of his since he put out his movie Obama’s America in 2012. Earlier this year he published The Big Lie, his current bestseller book about how the left has cleverly tied Nazi-ism and fascism to conservatism, instead of where they rightly belong, in the Left column as both were socialist entities.
His speech at the event though was more tailored to the crowd of right to life supporters. It was a little more broad than some of his more recent speeches given in support of his new book. It focused on how the Left has attempted, and largely succeeded, to realign America’s moral code away from values that come from outside, i.e. God and religion, to ones that comes from man, about witch D’Souza says: “The self becomes the adjudicator of morality.” The reason he gives for the Left being able create such a shift in American’s conception of morality was that progressives had three big “megaphones”: the news media, Hollywood, and academia. He came to the conclusion that in order to counter that message he had to create his own megaphone, so he decided to write books and go into filmmaking. He cited uber-progressive filmmaker Michael Moore as inspiration, not because he was so good, rather that if he (Moore) could do it, how hard could it be?
He also went on to talk about how Lincoln used a similar argument against slavery in the Lincoln/Douglass debates that the right to life community uses today against abortion. Democrat candidate Stephen Douglass’ pro-slavery stance according to D’Souza, was similar to the pro-choice argument being used by supporters of abortion today. Lincoln framed the slavery issue as a moral one, and as a moral issue there really is no choice– either slavery is moral nowhere or it is moral everywhere, be it in the north, the south, or one of the western territories. Douglass suggested that each state or territory should be allowed to choose whether or not slavery should be legal. It’s widely agreed now that Lincoln won that argument.
Another point D’Souza made to his audience of pro life activists is that the had more power as a group that they think they have. He recounted a story is professor told him about how a small, effete lion tamer could control a bigger, more powerful lion. The answer is that the lion tamer was able to convince the lion that he was the more powerful. The lion, believing this, could be made to do what the lion tamer wanted. Dinesh suggested to the members of the audience, that they were like the lion, and that they were really the ones with the power.
After the diner I got to meet Mr. D’Souza, that is to say I got him to autograph my copy of
The Big Lie, and thank him for the work his has done. His movies are good, and very informative. I consider them weapons to use in the ongoing Right vs. Left culture war. His book: The Big Lie Exposing the NAZI Roots of the American Left, especially for me has been a great resource for me and this Liberty Relearned blog. If you follow this site on Facebook, you’ve seen already several references and/or facts pulled from this book. Count on seeing more. The progressives have engaged in a decades-long campaign to create a false association of conservatism and the Republican Party with Nazi-ism and fascism. This is intellectual territory that the political and cultural right has lost and needs to regain from the left. Dinesh Sousa’s new book is a great resource that provides conservatives with the factual ammo they need to combat the fallacies being pushed by the other side. If you want to engage in this Cold Civil War, and want powerful facts to back up your argument, you should read his book.
Democrats and the liberal media have pushed this false notion of the Republican party being a party of racists and bigots. It’s the Democrats that actually have a dark history, and unlike what they’d have you believe, they haven’t changed that much in the last century. Hillary’s America shows how the Clintons fit into this corrupt continuum. Don’t worry about the critics, go see this movie– you’ll learn a lot.
*Unless this is the first Star Wars movie you’ve ever seen, no spoilers here*
Star Wars VII The Force Awakens, by Disney studios is a throwback to the original trilogy. There is no anti -capitalist message like in Avatar. Big business is not cast in the roll as the villain as in The Lego Movie. There’s not the same sense of confusion as to what makes the good guys good and the bad guys bad as with other movies. The newest Star Wars is an allegory to the WWII era struggle between fascism and democracy. Like in the original trilogy, the bad guys have no problem with killing innocents by the billion. The good guys try to stop them.
Feel free to leave your political shields down. There’s no dubious message in this film, it just a great movie well worth seeing.
Finally, I’ve gotten around to watching part III of Atlas Shrugged, the final movie installment based on Ayn Rand’s book of that same name. The plot of both book and movie very briefly is that the heroine, Dagny Taggart is the CEO of one of the county’s last rail lines in an America of the near future where all other forms of transportation have become too expensive due to high energy prices. The Government is nationalizing one by one all of the industries in the country in the name of the “greater good”. Scores of company heads disappear as part of a strike depriving society of their intellectual capital, rather than ceding their life’s work to the bureaucrats. Part III of the movie begins with Dagny stumbling upon “Atlantis”, the ultimate gated community that the disappeared executives have created for themselves to live out their self-imposed exile.
There is one scene that crystallizes the nature of the societal dysfunction that Ayn Rand tries to highlight. Dagny and a band of her compatriots from Atlantis raid a Government Lab where the movement’s leader is being held. When she encounters the guard at the door, she gives him a stark choice, let her and her associates in, or die. The guard is befuddled. After years of societal indoctrination that instructs him that people who act in their own self-interest are evil and to never question authority (because they know best) he cannot bring himself to obey. Even faced with a straightforward threat of death, he cannot discern for himself what is in his best interest, he is paralyzed by his dependence on orders, without which he cannot make even a life or death decision in his favor. He refuses even in the face of certain death to take personal responsibility for his actions. Dagny shoots him.
This example may seem ridiculous, but we can see examples today of people unwilling to exercise their personal judgment in a misguided attempt to avoid negative consequences for making an incorrect decision. The “zero tolerance” policies in our schools have victimized many an innocent child for what common sense says should not be infractions. Children have been suspended and expelled for such harmless activities as using a pencil, or even their fingers as a pretend gun. Kids are suspended for wearing T-shirts depicting soldiers bearing weapons. The zero-tolerance policies are supposed to protect our kids from real guns, not obviously harmless representations of them. Why do these misguided, absolutist policies exist? To shield teachers, principles and other school staff from making a wrong decision based on their own common sense. Not wanting to face the consequences for a bad decision, they have opted do relieve themselves of making any independent decisions.
Returning to the scene with the guard, there is another component to his fatal decision: That of the government’s influence on his thinking. In the dystopia of Atlas Shrugged, Dagny’s brother proves himself incompetent at business and becomes involved with a group of intellectuals and political leaders who have decided to preserve their power by nationalizing the nation’s industries. Seizing on populist sentiment against big business, they further promote the notion of “sharing the wealth” as a virtue. In reality, it is just cover for their protectionist goals. Their plans fail when they and all around them become risk-averse. Society’s collapse is hastened by a movement among industry captains to drop out of the business world and start their own community off the grid. With no one left willing to take any risk, rules and regulations are put into place in an effort to eliminate the need for anyone to ever have to make a decision on their own or think for themselves.
The guard in the story serves as a microcosm of the world around him, putting decisions, even those concerning his own life, in the hands of others who have also chosen not to take on any personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions. He cannot make a choice that is not prescribed by some rule or order given to him. In the real world, this ‘passing the buck, avoiding the blame’ mentality probably served to cost the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya. From the resulting Congressional hearings on the matter, it becomes painfully evident that no one in authority with power to act wanted to be on the hook for a bad decision. The U.S. military and the State Department each waited for the other to make a decision on rescuing the consulate staff, neither wanting to take responsibility for a bad outcome, one which came anyway. Each member of the Government cited rules and regulations that they claim prevented them from taking corrective action before the terrorist raid or taking any action during the raid. Who in the chain of command had authority to authorize a rescue mission? Testimony of witness called to the hearings couldn’t even clarify who’s responsibility it was, the Military or the CIA’s. Not surprisingly, each claimed it was the other’s. Had just one person in authority been willing to put their job on the line, been willing to make the tough call, four lives might have been saved that night.
Ayn Rand gave us the cautionary tale of Atlas Shrugged over fifty years ago. It painted a very explicit picture the problems that could arise when the notion of self-nullification for the “greater good” is made do override our own sense of what is best for us and our loved ones. When the risk-takers of our world are demonized as being self-serving “fat cats”, while those who contribute little or not at all to society expect to receive simply on the basis of greater need, then those in power will inevitably count themselves among the needy. Rules and regulations while necessary should never be for the sole reason of avoiding blame, or as a substitute for on-the-spot decision-making. Anyone wanting to establish policy calling for contributions “from each according to ability to each according to his need,” should be warned that while sounding good, has never actually worked in practice; warned and sternly rebuked. Atlas Shrugged, while a work of fiction, was born of hard reality over fifty years ago, but continues to be as valid now as it was back in 1957, if not more so.
JP Mac’s note: The movie version of Atlas Shrugged Trilogy, 2014 is available on DVD from 20th Century Fox, but the book version (I own the 50th Anniversary Edition from Signet Books, 1992) has a lot of good commentary on the story, on Ayn Rand’s life and philosophy. The book goes much more in-depth than the movie with regards to character and plot development.