Rule of thumb: If Rotten Tomatoes and most movie critics hate a political flick, it must be good! One of those critics who hangs out at the website RogerEbert.com deemed Dinesh D'Souza's latest film, Death of a Nation, so "shabbily constructed and artistically bankrupt" that it hardly "qualifies as a movie in the first place." Peter Sobczynski doesn't deal seriously with the film's core assertions, which he cavalierly dismisses as "cherry-picked facts" garnished by "overt omissions."
Those two terms do serve well, alongside "blatant distortions," as descriptions of Sobczynski's review. D'Souza's movie, for example, compares Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln only in certain respects, primarily as an American president who faces tremendous political hostility that once again threatens to divide the Union. P.S. repeats a canard that D'Souza has repeatedly demolished, including in this film, that the parties "switched positions" with respect to civil rights in the 1960s. This widely accepted misrepresentation ignores the fact that a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the '64 Civil Rights bill (which was filibustered in the Senate by Southern Democrats) and that all but two of the hundreds of segregationist Dixiecrat legislators remained Democrats throughout their long careers, including former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. D'Souza also notes that the Democrat George Wallace carried the Deep South in 1968, not Richard Nixon, whose Civil Rights initiatives are rigorously ignored by leftist historians and movie critics who incessantly push the "Southern strategy" narrative.
P.S. also ignores the boatload of historical cherries that clearly put Mussolini's fascism on the "left" or socialist side of the political spectrum and has nothing to say about its curious "right-wing" repositioning after World War II. Hitler, like Mussolini, was a national socialist. D'Souza provides in this film several additional "cherries" that illuminate the mutual admiration that existed for years between Mussolini and FDR, as well as a few nuggets that show embarrassing links between Germany's early Nazi years and Roosevelt's New Deal. If P.S. has any intellectual curiosity about such things, it isn't communicated in his epithet-laden review. For those individuals who might be interested, D'Souza provides reams of additional evidence about the leftist origins of fascism in his book The Big Lie.
Other "cherries" P.S. "overtly omits" from his review include the re-segregation of the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, that same Progressive Democrat's White House screening of D.W. Griffith's Klan-boosting The Birth of a Nation, and the blatantly racist aspects of Margaret Sanger's progressive eugenics-based organization, Planned Parenthood. Needless to say, P.S. has nothing positive to say about Trump and adds for his mindless readers that D'Souza never mentions "the countless [unspecified] scandals surrounding the administration."
From my own perspective, Death of a Nation does cover much of the material that was dealt with in D'Souza's prior films, but this "repetitious" objection doesn't seem to count against the hundreds of Watergate or McCarthy-era retellings that continue to titillate Democrats and the mainstream media. Moreover, it certainly takes more than a few reiterations to drive home points that counter well established lies like "the parties switched in the '60s" and "fascism is on the right." Another important point the film makes is that northern Democrats opposed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution that outlawed slavery and granted citizenship and voting rights to blacks. Consequently, the Civil War was not just a war of North versus South, but, in some respects, a war of anti-slavery Republicans against pro-slavery (or anti-abolition) Democrats who resided in both the North and the South.
A completely new component of D'Souza's recent film is his interview with a white supremacist leader, Richard Spencer, whose favorite presidents include the founder of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson, and expansionist Democrat slave-owner James Polk. Far from being a conservative, Spencer sees rights being bestowed on us by "the state" and not "by God or nature." P.S. writes in his review that D'Souza "twists things around" to get Spencer to say "I guess I'm a Progressive," but what D'Souza actually does is point out how Spencer's political beliefs coincide with the state-centered philosophy of Progressivism. The mainstream media portray Spencer as a leader of the "Alt-Right" animated by President Trump, who, despite media claims, has actually pursued a non-state-centered agenda.
For those of us who have seen D'Souza's prior films, Death of a Nation may seem like more of the same, even if "the same" is stuff that's essential to the nation's survival. For those who aren't familiar with D'Souza's work, Death of a Nation could be a revelatory moment that turns their political world upside-down. At the very least, for those folks whose minds are at all open, it can be an invitation to explore whether ideas that most folks take for granted are actually true – and if they aren't true, how and by whom those lies came to be propagated.
Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.