I recently saw Dinesh D’Souza’s America: Imagine A World Without Her with my 19 year old son. I won’t dignify the sorts of arguments he makes with a counter argument to any of the ridiculous historical inaccuracies given but simply make note of the many manipulative tools I observed that were used. I would rank the level of propaganda used in this film right up there with Joseph Goebbels Nazism and other effective propaganda movements.
Eric Hoffer, in his classic The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951) wrote, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” Who is D’Souza’s devil? The American “liberal” who is “re-writing history” and committing national “suicide.” Well, fear is a great motivator but after the truth eventually bears itself out, (and elections are over) people stop being afraid of the devil you made up. I mention elections because to my chagrin, the last 1/3 of the movie was an anti-Obama, and especially anti-Hillary Clinton campaign, which belied the real intention of the movie, namely, “STOP THE DEMOCRATS!”
All the typical propaganda tools were used; playing on people’s fears, inflating and deflating numbers and statistics, exaggerating claims, majoring on the minors, conflating non-related ideas, answering systemic concerns with individual examples, attacks without evidence, using non-experts and making them look like real experts, leading questions, false assumptions, creating only binary choices, etc. All of this in the end, makes D’Souza’s America both good and great, and it makes those who want to use their freedom of speech to represent the oppressed in order to build a better America, look like enemies of the state.
In D’Souza’s America there was no genocide on Native Americans, the land was never stolen, Black chattel slavery was unfortunate but after all, some Blacks held slaves too, Mexico was not stolen, there were no impure motives for Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan. This sort of telling is reminiscent of those who deny the Nazi holocaust against the Jews and theatres should be ashamed to advertise it as a documentary. It’s everything White ultra-conservatives want to hear-but no one in the film ever bothers to asks the truly oppressed person, “how has it been for you?” And no one in the film asked the rest of the world, in which America consumes most of the resources, “America, can you imagine a world without her?”
In the Unsettling of America Wendell Berry writes, “The first principle of the exploitive mind is to divide and conquer.” D’Souza is a divider and an exploiter. He is not trying to make a better America, he is simply an extreme conservative operative behind a thin veil of patriotism who is trying to make a more effective smear campaign in preparation for the 2016 elections. One of the many “best American values” missing from the film was honesty. This is not an attempt at dialogue or even an effective argument between conservatives and progressives; this film was a sham. My son and I agreed, it was a poor use of $23.50 and several hours time.