By DEXTER DUGGAN
To those old enough to remember events from the last 50 years or so in the United States, filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza’s recently released movie, America: Imagine the World Without Her, covers some territory that’s familiar because we lived it. But whoever could have predicted it accurately way back then?
These memories are a mere second in the sweep of world history, from Presidents Kennedy to Reagan to Obama, from the new world of manned moon landings to the whole world on your iPhone. Who could have forecast in the 1960s what marvels Steve Jobs would invent in this new century, or the advent of the degenerate Obama presidency, an even more incomprehensible invention to those growing up in the public morality of the ’60s?
The nation is older than our span of personal experiences, of course, and D’Souza’s movie looks back to the founding. America: Imagine the World Without Her soon asks us to imagine the possibility, as the title suggests, that in the Revolutionary War a British sniper’s lucky bullet found its mark on Gen. George Washington.
The future first president doesn’t live to attain that office. Shot off his horse, his body is stripped of its boots and his remains are rolled aside. The American forces begin to retreat.
The movie just suggests this tragic possibility, but doesn’t use much time exploring the results of Washington’s battlefield death. We are, instead, reminded of all the events that happened because George Washington and his ragtag forces survived and succeeded against the most powerful army in the world.
Their unlikely victory is what many Americans have regarded as providential intervention by God Almighty on behalf of birthing a different, blessed kind of secular government, one bringing a view of firmly grounded individual dignity and freedom, secured by establishing a political sphere of modest prerogative, not arrogant majesty.
The Founders, all too aware of human frailty, wanted to limit power, not continually grow it. The battle for that guarantee of human dignity, however, is never over.
D’Souza’s America notes the important role for religion that perceptive French observer Alexis de Tocqueville posited during his exploration of the U.S. in the 19th century, and religion’s helpful role in informing political views.
Anyone today, however, sees religion being forced to recede every year from a central role, except to the extent that leftists think religion is a useful tool to be reshaped for their tendentious toolbox.
Today’s grimly growing secular government isn’t one that even enlightened deists of goodwill would have approved in President Washington’s circle. Doctrines would vary, but religion was seen as an indispensable support to the morality of a free and virtuous people.
To my definite surprise, just as the 103-minute film ended, I felt a sense of grief, then, immediately, deliverance from grief. The grief came from recalling the many triumphs against human dignity and morality that the radical left has imposed on this long-suffering nation, and, in the wider sphere, Christian civilization, since the 1960s.
The sense of deliverance? I’m not sure of its source, unless there’s hope on the horizon, a cleansing in the air, against this leftist tyranny.
Although no nation and its institutions, including the United States, is above probing criticism, the radical left viewed the U.S. as inherently wicked, in dire need of a strategically calculated overthrow by such figures as have culminated in the hologram named Barack Obama, a fervent disciple of malign “community organizer” Saul Alinsky.
As the 1960s began — to take just a few important examples — marriage was the unquestioned historical foundation of the family and society, and haven of children. Heterosexuality was the assumed standard. The churches provided reliable moral guidance. Sex within marriage was the social and cultural expectation. Birth control simply to avoid having any children was seen as shortsighted and selfish. Abortion was a vicious crime.
In addition, capitalism was a proven path to productivity and wider social wealth. Education was to enlighten and guide maturing students. The U.S. had a respected military under firm civilian control. The list could go on.
Personal morality didn’t perform perfectly; nor any individual’s life. There could be notable failures, and mass-circulation newspapers and broadcasters to report them. But the answer is repentance and reform, not rejection and repudiation.
From firing propaganda fusillades against soldiers to throwing heaps of unborn babies into the garbage, the left was there with its useful allies to, ahem, transform America. This included the assistance of culture-mangling “news” and entertainment media, law-twisting judges, and conniving politicians.
Obama, we’re told, didn’t create the movement. It created him.
Each transformative step invited taking another, more outrageous one. Today’s Planned Parenthood shock troops would look back at their organization in the 1950s as being hopelessly, puritanically backward and repressive.
One wishes that D’Souza’s film would have devoted a bit more time to the necessary role of religion in reforming and strengthening the individual’s moral role in secular society. The Indian-born filmmaker does, however, sit down with people on both the liberal and conservative sides for samples of their thinking. This movie isn’t just history, it’s also commentary.
A Native American woman says she wishes Christopher Columbus hadn’t arrived, and that “sadness” is what America means to her. An activist who says the U.S. stole half of Mexico says “I’m in Mexico” as he sits in the United States.
But an ambitious U.S. student of Mexican heritage, asked what he’d do if Mexico reclaimed Texas, replies, “I’d be moving to Minneapolis.”
Like Obama himself, left-wing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) holds the weird idea, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own” — because they rely on such government-provided services as roads and schools.
Maybe Warren thinks entrepreneurial business owners don’t pay any taxes to help provide these services, just because her pal Obama’s crony capitalists evade whatever laws they can?
And we’re treated to the remarkable words of cash-stashing multimillionaire left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore that greed is just another word for capitalism.
D’Souza recalls that in his previous hard-hitting documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, he predicted that as the government grows bigger, the country grows smaller. “I’m scared for the future of America,” he says in this latest film, but thinks we still can choose another path.
The movie recalls Abraham Lincoln’s hopeful yet cautionary words that as a nation of free men, we can live through all time, or be the author of our own suicide.
There are people within America, D’Souza warns, “who want a world without America.” We hear the fiery words of Obama’s longtime left-wing pastor, Jeremiah Wright, “God damn America.”
The Lesson Of
But hopeful stories and obvious progress are in America, too.
At great national cost, the U.S. fought a war that ended human slavery here and looked to the model of an emancipator like freed slave Frederick Douglass.
It raised entrepreneurs to a new status as people who created national wealth by pleasing customers, instead of kings who asked armies to pillage other countries. “Looting is more manly” may been the outlook in some throne rooms, but not in this new nation.
In an observation that has powerful application today, Alexis de Tocqueville pondered the disparity between the northern pioneer state of Ohio, with its throbbing factories, and, just across the Ohio River, the slave state of Kentucky.
“On both sides,” he said, “the soil is equally fertile,” but slavery makes masters lazy and deprives the slaves of the fruit of their labor.
How similar that remark is to one by a black California activist a few years ago at a rally in Phoenix against massive illegal immigration. “It’s the same dirt” on either side of the border fence, he said. The different result depends on how people treat their own territory. A victim mentality won’t thrive.
America: Imagine the World Without Her informs the audience that America’s first self-made female millionaire was a black woman, C.J. Walker, who developed hair-care products. She tells an attentive audience this meant hard work: “. . . there is no flower-strewn path to success.”
The lesson of personal responsibility also resonated with black conservative activist Star Parker, who says she had been happy to get her welfare checks — until the day she was shocked to begin reform when she was told that “my lifestyle was unacceptable to God.”
Moving toward its conclusion, the movie notes the strategy of atheist socialist “community organizer” Saul Alinsky, an idol to both Hillary Clinton and Obama. “You do what you can with what you have, and clothe it with moral arguments,” Alinsky said, even while he maneuvered to make the “haves” feel guilty and the “have-nots” feel resentful. May Alinsky soon be forgotten.
At Abraham Lincoln’s farewell address in Springfield, Ill., on his way to be inaugurated as president in 1861, the Railsplitter said, “…let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.” Even as he says this, the movie flashes forward for an instant’s look at Ford’s Theater in 1865 and John Wilkes Booth raising his gun.
Lincoln didn’t get out of this world alive, nor will any of us. We begin and carry on our work, and commend the end of it to God, who rewards the workers in His vineyard as they merit.
The United States seems to many of us to have a special role in His Providence. Even when we must put down our tools, there are many others we hope will carry on in a nation renewed in blessing, and freed from the current oppression. As Mr. Lincoln might have said.