Monday, July 07, 2014

Denish D'Souza presents "America: Imagine a World without Her": He dissects the Left-wing "shame argument against US capitalism, then honors Aaron Swartz

America: Imagine a World without Her” is Denish D’Souza’s follow-up to the 2012 film “2016: Obama’s America”.  D’Souza has maintained that the former film motivated a selective prosecution of him in 2014, for making a political campaign contribution in the names of others. (The imdb title is only "America"). 
D’Souza takes on a summary left-wing mantra, that America is living off of stolen power and wealth.  That argument would put individual Americans in the shameful position of living off of stolen desserts, a position which, as D’Souza notes, has led some extremists to say that even as individuals, some 9/11 victims got what they deserved. 
D’Souza takes on the “shame” problem at a high level.  He notes this argument comes from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”, mentioned by Matt Damon’s character in the 1996 movie “Good Will Hunting” as well as in “The Sopranos”.  It’s reinforced by other notables on the Left, like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and (“A Fighting Chance”) Elizabeth Warren (all of whom are personally well off).  D’Souza presents Barack Obama as saying “what you have, you didn’t make on your own.”  Now, that could mean you should pay more taxes (perhaps through coercive confiscation or revolutionary expropriation), or it could mean (as in many faith-based environments) you should become more involved in personally taking care of others.
D’Souza starts with the charge that America stole land from native Americans, by interviewing a Sioux at Mt. Rushmore, who sees the monument as a scar.  He moves to the taking of most of the American Southwest from Mexico.  Both of these he dismisses by reporting that the native Americans and Mexicans simply had taken land from one another by force.  America added economic innovation and adding of value.  He notes that sometimes radical Islam maintains that violence is more “manly” than the use of money and capital.  (Hitler also maintained such, that some people were born more “worthy to live.”)  He then looks at slavery and segregation, essentially maintaining that America admitted it’s mistakes and fixed them with the War Between the States and Civil Rights Movement.  He defends against critics of American “imperialism” to “steal resources” by pointing out that America returns territory and rebuilds resources.  And he defends capitalism with more typical Ayn Rand arguments.
Finally, he gives his account of the education of Hillary Clinton, with the influence of left-wing organizer Saul Alinsky.  And as a bonus, he moves into the NSA scandal (pre-Snowden), and gives some coverage to the tragic story of Aaron Swartz (“The Internet’s Own Boy”, June 22), pointing out that JSTOR had been developed from tax-supported efforts.  He didn’t mention the fact that JSTOR mattered to teen researcher Jack Andraka, but that would have made an nice add-on.

D'Souza makes a specific statement in favor of personal autonomy or individual sovereignty as a moral principle.  This film is more pro-individualism, even hyper-individualism, than just pro American. It would seem to encourage political libertarianism.  He doesn't get into how inequality (and luck, misfortune, or hidden dependency) should play out at the individual "karma" level.
The filmmaking is interesting.  D’Souza recreates many moments in history, going back to the Revolutionary War, with actors, in a manner common in museum films (he opens with a hypothetical scene where George Washington is shot, to set up the “what it”.) 
The official site is here. The film is distributed by Lionsgate (no Roadside Attractions this time), a studio that lately has been “going bigger”.  John Sullivan co-directed and co-wrote the film, which is based on D'Souza's book by the same name (Regnery publishing). .
I saw this film at Regal Potomac Yards in Alexandria, before a small audience.  This older complex has converted to digital and looks sharp, but the movie server failed a couple of times, becoming garbled with the video going blank, as if it were overheated.  The theater showed its dirty laundry (a Microsoft desktop recovery app).  So it took over two hours to get through the 100-minute film.

Update: Oct. 8, 2014

D'Souza has his real detractors, well within the conservative communities.  Look at the analysis of his book "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and its Responsibility for 9/11" in National Review, by Victor Davis Hanson, article "The Mind of Mr. D'Souza", 2007, link.  And today, on Vox, Dylan Matthews wrote a blistering article "Dinesh D'Souza, America's Greatest Conservative Troll, Explained", here.  The article does go into a prosecution of the author, and the uncertainty that he will serve much of a sentence. As for his views: true, on colonialism and slavery, the idea that "everybody did it" didn't make it right.  My own father once said that the importation of slaves shortly after colonization was the greatest mistake in American history.  

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