Article by Andrew Barness
“Death of a Nation” by Dinesh D’Souza succeeds in exposing the left’s false claim to tolerance and the unwarranted blame placed on Republicans for racism and fascism. Through extensive and factual analysis, D’Souza is able to debunk some of the most notorious political myths liberals have designed to discredit the historical record of the Republican Party and American conservatism. At the same time, he is able to link the struggle and hysteria that befell Lincoln in 1861 to the same opposing fervor which has befallen Trump nearly 160 years later.
The plot of the movie is simple, but it elegantly refutes the classical statement used by the left that all Republicans or conservatives are “racist” and “fascist.” For fascism, the movie explains the political philosophy of Italian fascism and German nazism. In one of the interviews with D’Souza, Dr. Robert Paxton explains the term “fascist” has been overused and simplified. Also, he explains fascism contrasts American values given that fascists do not believe in a free market; rather, they advocate for the sponsorship of state corporatism and no separation between the state and the people. The film goes on to describe how the American left had policy alignments under FDR, specifically the New Deal, with fascists like Mussolini. The film goes to great lengths to compare the SA’s paramilitary tactics in silencing political dissidents through physical violence to the violence ANTIFA uses against conservative speakers on college campuses. Finally, the film indirectly concludes though the American left may claim to not be fascists, their use of political correctness in academia, physical intimidation towards political rivals, and beliefs that your rights come from the state, are all rooted and have a certain fascist tone.
Regarding racism, the film begins with D’Souza interviewing Civil War historian and Gettysburg College Professor Allen C. Guelzo. In the interview, Guelzo explains the Founders not only believed the end of slavery was near, but also took actions such as banning the trade in 1807 to decrease its influence and create an inevitable end to slavery. The film gives a brief history lesson on post-Civil War race relations and policies. The film also accurately places blame on both Southern and Northern Democrats for slow walking and not voting for Reconstruction policies. This section’s apex emerges with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy and the Continuation of Slavery.” The film claims the institution of slavery has not fully disappeared, but it has been transformed. The welfare state is the way slavery has continued for the minority and oppressed. D’Souza explains by offering housing, food, and medicine in exchange for votes, the Democrats are using the same plantation strategy they did to keep African Americans oppressed.
The southern strategy is an American political term used to describe the change in voter demographics, the Southern states switching to the GOP and Northern states to the Democrat Party — although the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin’s Richard Johnston and Byron Shafer state there was no real political switch in the electorate. The voting and congressional data show Southern Dixiecrats remained loyal to the racism of the Democratic party, while most poor southerners switched to the GOP for more economic opportunities. According to the film, it is evident in 1968 Nixon lost the Deep South as he was aiming to win the Rust Belt.
This section ends with D’Souza taking about the alt-right. He interviews Richard Spencer, a white supremacist who supports President Trump. Taking a closer look at Spencer’s policies, he has nothing in common with the current President. D’Souza asks two important questions on the topic of immigration and where rights come from. Spencer’s response was he is in favor of allowing white immigrants in while keeping all other races and ethnicities out, something Trump has never done or sponsored. Then, Spencer claims “nobody actually believes that every man is created equal.” Spencer continues claiming rights come from the state, and we owe a service to the state. Not only is D’Souza correct to point out these views are a direct opposite of American values on immigration and rights but also shows Spencer and most of the alt-right lie closer to the alt-left and cannot be related to mainstream Republicans and Conservatives.
In the closing scenes, D’Souza poses the question, “Can we save America a second time?” Though D’Souza is not wrong to suggest President Trump is continuing the fight Lincoln started, we can say the answer lies within us. Lincoln said at the Gettysburg Address, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.” Truly, the struggle for liberty and freedom did not end with Lincoln and the Civil War, nor will it end with President Trump; but how we end it is through our actions and what we do in our lives. Therefore, the answer is to honor and execute our rights and liberties. Not only do they make our title of being Americans so unique but they also may be the only way to combat evil, extreme politics, and save America once again.