By Kalman J. Kaplan
That the political dialogue in America has become toxic is not a new insight, unfortunately, much if not most of it coming from the so-called “progressive elite.” However, for the most part, it has not centered on artistic work, which we would hope would be judged on its own terms. However, the recent release of Dinesh D’Souza’s current film Death of a Nation has released a torrent of hate and attempts to poison people’s minds against it.
On the face of it, the attempt is ridiculous. D’Souza, while quite intelligent, is controversial. So what? we may ask. People are free to see controversial material and judge for themselves without the creators being shunned and even defamed. D’Souza is a polemicist, and a quite intelligent one. He is an intelligent Republican who argues that the Democratic Party has falsified history in ways we will outline below. If his ideas do not stand the test of scrutiny, they will fall by themselves, but if not, they will slowly enter the main stream of opinion. Is this not the way debate should work in a free society?
However, the hysteric reaction on the left to D’Souza’s movie is really beyond the pale. Critics do not want people to see the movie and judge D’Souza’s ideas on their merit. Rather they want to quarantine the movie and D’Souza himself as if he were a virulent toxic disease. This of course is nothing but fascism, which is the point of D’Souza’s movie itself — that fascism is a disease of the left. The over the top attempt to quarantine and silence D’Souza’s movie only serves to support his point: that fascism emerged on the left.
What does D’Souza say in the movie. Let me list a few points I took from it, all of which can be discussed rationally and calmly between people of good will.
On the national front,
- Lincoln was a Republican, indeed the first Republican President.
- The Democrats he ran against were largely supporters of slavery, both Southern Democrats and Northern Democrats.
- The Klu Klux Klan was an organ of the Democratic Party designed to suppress voter rights in the South.
- Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, was an arch segregationist, who showed Birth of a Nation at the White House, leading to a re-invigoration of the Klan in American life.
- The segregationist Dixiecrats were Democrats, including George Wallace and most all of the bestial Southern sheriffs during the Civil Rights Movement.
- . Many Democrat politicians basically had an agenda of keeping urban Northern blacks dependent and thus loyal to the Democratic Party. So much so that some black leaders today are calling the urban ghettos the “urban plantation.
- Republicans have been largely dense and oblivious to many of these problems, and kept aloof in the suburbs, leaving the field to corrupt big city boss Democrats. Only one segregationist Democratic senator, Strom Thurmond, and one Democratic congressman actually switched parties.
- Robert Byrd, a former Dragon of the Klan, remained a Democrat till his death and was lionized by the leaders of Democratic Party
Now let us turn to international affairs.
- Nazism was the acronym for National Socialism
- Hitler was a socialist of sorts, he built the Autobahn, the Volkswagen, provided electrification for rural villages. He was a populist, who was hated by the Conservative Junkers of Prussia.
- Nazism was economically a party of the left but was opposed to International Socialism of Soviet Russia.
- Many of the Brown Shirts were homosexual. Actually, in the last part of the 19th century, Magnes Hirschfeld directed an Institute of Sexual Studies in Berlin, in which he distinguished butch and femme homosexuals. Many Nazis were butch homosexuals who hated femme homosexuals — really the feminine in themselves.
All these points are cogent and can be argued. But none of them are beyond the pale of respectable intellectual debate. Yet movie critics have on the “respectable” left have acted in unison to boycott this movie, the very essence of fascism.
In a recent review in the Chicago Tribune for example, movie critic Michael Phillips concludes his review of Death of a Nation by calling it “beneath contempt.” I would think Mr. Phillips exposes his hatred and bias, which should have led him to recuse himself in reviewing this movie. But he did not, and by not doing so, gives us a portal into the mind and soul of a bigot, himself.
Isaac Stanley-Becker is not quite as vicious in his review of the movie in the Washington Post, but also is condescending in a way that makes one cringe; for example, he totally mischaracterizes D’Souza’s interview with white nationalist Richard Spencer, who D’Souza completely opposes, and then gratuitously quotes the review of the Hollywood Reporter as “painfully unendurable.” Stanley- Becker then adds their question: “Is it unreasonable to hope that he (D’Souza) make one (a movie) that doesn’t bore the pants off us?”
I doubt very much that any of these reviewers are being honest here. They simply don’t know how to answer D’Souza’s points as they have been raised in an intellectual hothouse. D’Souza is anything but uninteresting, and quite intelligent to boot, probably much more so that these juvenile critics.
And sadly, they not alone, this unconscionable bigotry lying beneath the surface of so many people who regard themselves as “progressive”, but who in fact are simply closed- minded and intolerant of any position with which they may disagree with. And unable to think their way out of a paper bag.
D’Souza’s movie is in fact anything but boring and deserves to be reviewed fairly and people should be urged to see it and judge his ideas for themselves
Kalman J. Kaplan, Ph.D. is a Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine www.kalmankaplan.com