Frequently in the news and oft embattled, filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza can’t help interject himself into the political discussion no matter who is in charge currently. Whether it is decrying Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s “secret plans” to take over America and destroy it or allegations of historical fraud and terror on the part of one political party to the complete exclusion of the other, Dinesh D’Souza dresses up propaganda in the guise of a documentary better than most but not as well as he thinks he does. Indeed, some of the assertions made in Death of a Nation, released during the Trump presidency no less, are not only outright ludicrous but somewhat offensive and could alienate his audience of rabid conservatives.
How so you might ask? Given that D’Souza’s films always proclaim a certain conspiracy about the imminent destruction of the country while a Democrat is in charge, he hasn’t done so when someone like Donald Trump is President of the United States. Indeed, Death of a Nation seems born out of an assumption that Hillary Clinton won the presidency, a derangement that continues to plague D’Souza to this day, and that makes the film not only irrelevant but a shade shy of a waste of time.
D’Souza is no stranger to controversy but his battles tend to pit him against some overwhelming Democratic Party-led conspiracy. In Death of a Nation the only conspiracy is how D’Souza thinks people are going to interpret such a proclamation in the Trump era. After serving time in prison for illegal campaign contributions and receiving a pardon from President Trump, D’Souza’s charge that we are in the death throes of the nation is an interesting assertion and perhaps one that, rarely, on which his Democratic opponents would agree with him. Thus begins the confusion that is Death of a Nation.
In this article we’re going to go over some of the broader assertions made in Death of a Nation and try to match them with historical record. In some cases, such as the assertion that FDR was a fan of Hitler, D’Souza is not only misleading but obfuscating his own chosen party’s role in Hitler’s rise.
The broadest assertion made in the film is that American liberalism is the ideological partner of Nazism, the genocidal philosophy that threw the world into the chaos of World War 2. His argument that this is the case is made on a few correlations that he draws between Nazi policy and current Democratic Party prerogatives, such as abortion.
The simple assertion is that, because Democrats support abortion like Nazis do, the two are one and the same. Aside from the facile nature of this argument, it also fails to take into account that much of the inspiration for Nazi race laws and laws with regard to abortion were inspired by eugenics legislation in the United States. Eugenics, a movement which believed in the sterilization of inmates and mentally handicapped people.
Eugenics was touted by Democrats and Republicans, with organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Winston Churchill, and the Republican Party itself. Dinesh D’Souza even admitted this back in 2017 as recorded by the website National Vanguard when he said “progressive” Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt supported eugenics the movement that led, in part, to the practice of abortion as understood in the Nazi regime. Why would D’Souza conveniently forget this when so much of his argument is based on this premise? Because Death of a Nation is a confused, rambling, incoherent piece of work. Whatever valid points are there are hidden underneath a cloying almost sad attempt to make the Republicans look like the saints among the sinners, a kind of Disney-fication of the world and the people in it. Everything is posited as black and white, good versus evil, and truth versus lies yet the latter, upon which so much of the documentary depends, is where it falls apart.
D’Souza’s relentlessly self-righteous assertions are often ill formed in the sense that they do not seem to anticipate rational responses. One example is that D’Souza asserts that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a fan and admirer of Hitler, insinuating that the Democratic Party wanted Hitler to win the war or some such nonsense.
A more nuanced view would discuss the complex ways both Democrats and Republicans talked about Nazis prior to the war. An even further assertion of truth would be to discuss Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. and father of George H.W., and his relationship with the Nazi regime while working for Brown Brothers Harriman. Prescott Bush not only did business with the Nazis in contravention of a direct order from FDR for businesses to cease operations with the Nazis but he also made a boatload of money doing it as has been documented in numerous accounts.
Little details like this quickly reveal that an honest examination of the political trajectory of certain ideologies in America this is not. Aside from the resounding hypocrisy it would evidence for Nazi ties to be scandalous in one case but not a big deal in the other D’Souza also doesn’t realize he makes dangerous assertions that can blowback on him at any moment.
The only thing that D’Souza does get right is that the Nazis were inspired by the United States’ treatment of the indigenous Americans in devising the “Final Solution” for the Jews. Of course, the Democratic Party is wholly to blame because in D’Souza’s childlike version of the world how could it not be so? It’s almost as if the Republicans never existed and when they do it is always in the heroic since of a Greek saga. Even the most unsophisticated among us can spot a child’s tale when we see one but the film makes one wonder if D’Souza is gearing this towards children or has a childlike understanding of the world. Like the old lies that Daddy or Mommy is wholly to blame for the divorce, D’Souza is trapped in a petulant state of juvenile anchor that makes him seem both whiny and impotent.
Perhaps most insulting of all is that D’Souza reduces slavery from a racial condition to a purely economic question. The evil of slavery was not in the enslavement of human life towards awful ends but rather the separation of a worker from his wages. Of course, since this can happen to anyone and is part of the Democrats’ socialist agenda according to D’Souza, the fact that the African slaves endured the trials they did is sad insofar as they didn’t receive wages for their time as slaves.
The corollary to this as implied by D’Souza is that, as long as there is some form of payment, a relative condition of slavery is justified. And it is that kind of implication that D’Souza is too daft to appreciate and too clumsy to realize he has made. The rise of Donald Trump is presented as an opportunity for people like Dinesh D’Souza but Death of a Nation really illustrates that it is a challenge.
Without the guarantees of establishment conspiracy D’Souza may soon find himself on the outs in both parties as anti-establishment notions rise and D’Souza is firmly anchored to a cabal that is, in every way real and imagined, just as bad as his hated Democratic Party.