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Movie Review: Dinesh D’Souza’s “Death of a Nation”

Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary hit theaters August 3rd, and is based on two of his books: The Big Lie, and his newest book Death of a Nation: Plantation Politics and the Making of the Democratic Party. D’Souza dives into the sordid racist past of the Democrats, and ends the movie with a call for American patriots to unite around President Trump.

D’Souza compares the deeply divided Americas of Lincoln and of Trump, with a handful of references comparing the individual men, but devotes most of his time to tracing Democrat racism and Republican righteousness through both eras.

D’Souza continues on from Lincoln with an extensive look at the overlap between fascism (both German and Italian) and progressive Democrat policies under Woodrow Wilson. D’Souza makes these comparisons with re-created scenes from Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Wilson’s America; traveling around to palazzos, beer halls and balconies.

Once he switches back to today’s America, D’Souza focuses on both the barrages leveled at Trump and the flak caught by his supporters. We see pop star Miley Cyrus crying after election night and people on the street screaming during the inauguration.

We see news anchors pronouncing “shame on American people for voting for Trump,” including women commentators saying, “I have no respect for women who voted for Trump. You’re dumb.” Another voice on TV vows that: “we’re going after [Trump] in every conceivable way, whether it’s ethical or not…” Trump is denounced as racist, homophobic, and fascist.

No matter their party affiliation, no one wants to see the president whom they voted for called a racist or a fascist, or be denigrated as “deplorable” for voting for them. “How are you going to convince people to vote like that?” D’Souza asks over the footage.

D’Souza not only reminds the audience of the criticism they and Trump face, playing on their righteous indignation, but also reminds them why Trump won them over in the first place. A clip from a Trump campaign rally includes Trump declaring: “I am your voice. I am with you. I will fight for you and I will win for you…We will make America great again.”

In his call for Republicans to unite around President Trump, D’Souza’s strategy focuses less on common Republican ideas and more on the common Republican enemy: the Democrat Party. His aim to unite Republicans around Trump explains why “Death of a Nation” spends so much of its time on the opposition, rather than articulating Republican policy.

After making his case against the Democrat Party, D’Souza attempts to stir the patriotism of his viewers, pulling out all the stops with “O, America,” Abraham Lincoln, and vistas of the Rockies, wheat fields, and sunsets reminiscent of “Morning in America.”  

The movie poster is a little misleading, since it may set moviegoers’ expectations that, in the style of “Hillary’s America and “Obama’s America”, this will be a movie about “Trump’s America.” In fact, “Death of a Nation” alludes to an infamous Klan propaganda film (D.W. Griffith’s 1915 “Birth of a Nation”) that was screened in the White House by Democrat Pres. Woodrow Wilson.

Critics may say “Death of a Nation” relies too much on provocation, despite its repeated factual claims. But as he said during his interview on the Conservative Book Club Podcast, D’Souza is content for the movie to be “an emotional experience,” and intends the book version to present the “intellectual argument.”

“Books can support their arguments in a systematic way, supporting their arguments with references, other places to look for data, and so on,” said D’Souza. “A movie…touches not only the head but also the heart.”

“Death of a Nation” is a sign of the divided times it analyzes. Emotions run high. “Death of a Nation” will invigorate Republicans by uniting them against the Democrat Party and around Trump. Based on its initial weekend box office numbers, it’s sure to do commercially well and reminds us why D’Souza is one of the most successful political documentarians in the country.

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