Editor's note: This is part one of a two-part series.
In an exclusive interview with Townhall, New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza discussed his controversial new film — Death of Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time? — his recent pardon by Trump, and the impact the movie is having ahead of the midterm elections.
Amid growing censorship of conservatives in the public square, D'Souza says the film is the target of censorship that reflects the “pathological state of our national debate.”
“There are three kinds of reactions to the movie,” D’Souza told Townhall. “The reaction from conservatives is almost unanimously positive. The people who actually go see the movie — whom I assume are mainly Republicans and conservatives — give it a 90 percent-plus rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Now, on the left, the reaction morphs into two different categories. One category is what I call, ‘Let’s ignore the film and hope it goes away.’ This is the approach of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. None of these media outlets have devoted a single word of coverage to the movie. It’s extremely strange and reflects the pathological state of our national debate, or perhaps I should say, our non-debate in America.”
However, The New York Times and The Washington Post have weighed in on the docudrama film that has grossed over $5 million since its release August 3, according to Box Office Mojo.
“The theme here, in the third category, is very predictable and both of those articles are almost interchangeable. They say the same thing: Dinesh D’Souza’s movie portrays (Adolf) Hitler as a liberal Democrat and compares the Democrats to Nazis. It’s what I call the art of political caricature.
“First of all, nowhere do I say that Hitler was a liberal Democrat. No reasonable person could see the film and think that. Now, what I do say is much more pressing and that is that Hitler and the Nazis did get some of their bigoted, and even murderous schemes, from American progressives and the Democratic Party.”
In the film, you raise an interesting point about the intolerance of the left, and how progressives and fascists drive speakers out of the public square. You’ve said that you’ve personally experienced this, and now the world is watching social media companies engage in censorship. What would you like to say about this in terms of your film?
D’Souza: Well, the fascists were illiberal, and they manifested their illiberalism in two sorts of distinct ways. The first way was to demonize, ostracize and attack dissenting views, and again, that fascist stream lives on in the left today. I say lives on because the fascists are still on the left and the strategy of hounding, intimidating, and even beating up your political opponents is a leftist hallmark shared not only by the fascists, but also by the communists in the 20th century.
Also, political correctness is an encouragement of cultural conformity, a way of muzzling people into submission so they don’t deviate from the leftist party line. And that I think is a line of connection between the fascists of the last century and the leftism of our own time.
You experienced what you described as a “political hit” after the release of your first film, 2016: Obama’s America. You’ve claimed that the federal government went after you for a campaign finance violation that nobody has been charged with before. You were sentenced to five years of probation and eight months in a community confinement center. It was only earlier this summer that President Donald Trump pardoned you. What would you like to say about this now?
D’Souza: Well, I had reasons to suspect that my case was motivated politically in part because the FBI came knocking on my door literally a week after Obama was railing against my movie on his personal website, BarackObama.com. That’s odd.
Later, I found out that the FBI had red flagged me as a right-wing conservative and there was clearly an effort on the part of the FBI to notify the Justice Department that here is a political opponent that you guys might want to go after.
Third, I learned from my FBI file that when they found out about my case, the $20,000 (campaign finance) violation, they immediately assigned $100,000 to investigate it. That, I’m told, is also unorthodox and strange and reeks of a political hit.
In the film, you make the argument that there is a similarity between the situations faced by President Trump today and President Abraham Lincoln in the mid-1800s. What do you see as the similarities?
D'Souza: Let’s lay out the parallels. Number one, Lincoln was an outsider. He was not expected to get the Republican nomination and unexpectedly he did. He ran against the majority party, the Democratic Party, and somewhat surprisingly he won. In part, he won, because the Democratic vote was split between two Democrats, one in the North and one in the South.
The moment that Lincoln won all hell broke loose. There was an extreme reaction from Democrats both in the North and the South. In the North, some Democrats were calling for Lincoln to be assassinated, which happened later. In the South, the Democrats were willing to break up the country rather than endure the prospect of a Lincoln presidency, so there was all this craziness going on, and the craziness is still with us today and it’s coming from the same party.
Now, what did the Democrats call Lincoln? They called him an extremist, an authoritarian and a tyrant. And what are the charges that the Democrats make against Trump today? He’s an extremist, he’s an authoritarian, he’s a tyrant.