The most interesting aspect of Dinesh D'Souza's documentary America is its tag line, "Imagine a World Without Her." Unfortunately that would apparently require imagination and insight beyond D'Souza's skill and curiosity.
Instead of actually trying to examine how the globe might have prospered or suffered without Uncle Sam's wide and nearly omnipresent influence, the pundit seems determined to spend 104 minutes decrying those he accuses of trying to bring about America's suicide. The accused psychological assassins D'Souza names include historian Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States) and community organizer Saul Alinsky. Both stand accused of shaming Americans.
Zinn's crime was exploring unsavory phenomena as slavery, the genocide of American Indian tribes, foreign policy mistakes and a system that seems to favor the wealthy over the rest of us. D'Souza engages him point by point but his refutation of Zinn's points isn't persuasive. He smugly dismisses others for omitting things like the existence of blacks who owned slaves in antebellum America while making his own sins of omission.
D'Souza has a gift for stating his opponent's position without actually addressing it. For example, he briefly features foreign policy detractor Noam Chomsky listing a few countries whose governments had been toppled by our own. Yes, America had a hand in providing the world alternatives to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, but D'Souza fails to mention U.S. support of dictators such as Indonesia's Suharto (who's responsible for the deaths of millions). Backing regimes who don't share our views on human rights has undermined our moral authority abroad.
America briefly lurches out from its tedium into unintentional hilarity when D'Souza strongly implies that former Secretary of State and Arkansas first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Manchurian Candidate. Yes, she did meet and research Alinsky while she was in college. Her career after earning her degree (serving on the board of Wal-Mart from 1986 to 1992 and working at the powerful Rose Law Firm) is hardly that of someone out to sink the capitalist establishment.
D'Souza is on somewhat firmer ground when he decries how out of hand surveillance has gotten, but he doesn't reveal much that a reasonably well-informed person wouldn't have known already.
He includes his own recent pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud in May. While D'Souza includes self-serving footage of Sean Hannity suggesting the filmmaker-author is the victim of government overreach, the paper trail for his contribution of $20,000 through straw donors is incriminating, as is a surreptitious recording. (No, it wasn't made by the National Security Agency.)
D'Souza apparently took a major risk for a relatively small amount of cash. He seems to have a marksman's gift for shooting himself in the foot.
MovieStyle on 07/04/2014
Print Headline: America: Imagine a World Without Her