Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” is a well-crafted defense of our nation, in response to the criticisms of America’s past and present we see all too often today. Through interviews with liberal politicians and activists, D’Souza sums up their charges and answers them as an attorney would defend a client.
His defense is of the nation’s foreign policy and economic system is even-handed; he does a good job of admitting fault where fault truly exists, such as admitting the evil of slavery, and never whitewashes history just to make America look good. His responses to the influential figures he interviews are logical, well-presented and supported by well-produced recreations of historical scenes and an eclectic soundtrack of American music from all across our cultural background.
It’s a conservative movie from a conservative author, intended largely for conservative audiences.
At the same time, however, D’Souza seems to have missed a fantastic opportunity to engage the brightest minds of the political left in a constructive dialogue. While it made many valid, well-thought out, well-constructed points regarding America’s troubled past, it provided no constructive dialogue or engagement with those left whom D’Souza interviewed.
Of course, that’s what filmmaker Michael Moore does on the left. He makes movies for progressives, and doesn’t really bother to engage the right.
What’s missed is an opportunity to persuade. By foregoing an actual discussion of the issues, D’Souza (like Moore) also foregoes a chance to sway people on the political fence. That’s what a debate is: presumptions and ideas are fairly presented, then challenged, defended, or defeated in ideological battle. D’Souza missed his chance to score a victory here.
D’Souza was born in Mumbai, India, and immigrated to the United States in 1978. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Dartmouth College. He has written for many policy magazines, served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan in 1988, has published various books, and wrote and directed the 2012 box office success “2016: Obama’s America,” which theorized on the philosophical basis of President Barack Obama’s administration and policy decisions, and postulated a bleak future if their effects on America went unchecked.
Much of the movie was devoted to a defense of conservative and patriotic principles. But the last 20 minutes of the film consist of D’Souza’s suppositions about the motives of America’s critics on the political left. He brings up Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky and portrays him as the mastermind of a decades-long plan to polarize, radicalize, and dominate American politics, with the eventual goal of destroying the nation and founding a socialist utopia in its place. He draws connections between Alinsky and Chicago mobster Frank Nitti, with vaguely ominous implications about the meaning of those connections. He goes on to portray Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton as radicalized followers of Alinsky.
Isn’t it best to address ideas, not motives? One can’t know another’s heart. One should be charitable enough to believe that our neighbors can be wrong, without being evil. There are different ideas on how to make America great — one group can’t claim to love America more than the others.
After all, conservatives cry foul when the left mischaracterizes their motives — such as last week when Attorney General Eric Holder said that “racial animus” was a main driver of opposition to his and Obama’s policies.
“America: Imagine the World Without Her” is fairly family friendly. Some of the historical re-creations show scenes of battle and slavery — nothing too graphic is seen, but there is some blood spatter and the terrible conditions slaves lived in are not glossed over. Its overall message is a positive one: America is not without her faults, yet is ultimately a force for peace and prosperity in the world; we should be proud of her, and should strive daily to keep her great.
“America: Imagine the World Without Her” is continuing its run at the Times Square Cinema in Tyler.