"America," the latest big-screen diatribe from the author-filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, arrives this Fourth of July week with one main goal: to prove that America is great. Few would argue with that conclusion. It's D'Souza's reasons that beggar belief.
Based on his recent book, "America" aims to debunk what D'Souza calls the "narrative of American shame" promulgated by leftists like Noam Chomsky (briefly interviewed) and Howard Zinn, who keep harping on our track-record of maltreating various indigenous peoples and underdogs. Armed with historical re-enactments (from the Revolutionary War to the college days of Hillary Rodham Clinton) and his own merciless brand of conservatism, D'Souza mounts a full-throated defense.
He deserves some credit for pulling no punches. His argument boils down to this: History is written by the winners, and everyone else can go suck an egg. Native Americans decimated by European diseases? "It's not genocide, because genocide implies an intention." Blacks sold into slavery? Yeah, but lots of countries had slaves. "None of this," he argues, "was uniquely American." As for Mexicans grousing that the United States took half their land in 1848, aren't they the ones who keep trying to sneak out of that wretched country? A random border patrol agent confirms that it's true.
Once D'Souza has done his best to bring pith-helmeted colonialism back in fashion, he turns to a second, more self-serving goal: Painting President Barack Obama as the head of a vast left-wing conspiracy to surveil and persecute conservatives. This is D'Souza's explanation for why he was discovered making illegal campaign contributions under friends' names. "Where will they stop?" he wails. (D'Souza pleaded guilty to the charge in May.)
Now, you could bother debating D'Souza on history and semantics and rudimentary logic, but chances are you'd end up feeling like Meathead arguing with Archie Bunker. D'Souza's thinking is so disorganized and emotionally driven that he often loses his own plot. By the time he's shedding tears for "the naive corporate executives" of Wall Street and the health-care industry -- all pawns in the government's evil chess-game -- you may wonder what America he's living in.
PLOT The controversial author Dinesh D'Souza explains why America is great.
RATING PG-13 (violent re-enactments)
BOTTOM LINE A winners' history of America, in which Native Americans, slaves and other underdogs are dismissed as petulant whiners or collateral damage. Stirring stuff for the status quo.