By Robert Gore
In the martial arts, the movement and weight of the opponent can be used against him or her. Like a novice defeated by a judo or karate master, too often those who would defend America’s founding values and the country they christened are left on the mat by their intellectual opponents, who use their virtues and honesty to confound and defeat them. Dinesh D’Souza’s movie America identifies enough of their tricks for viewers to connect the dots, although it comes up short in recommendations how to turn the tables.
It is still considered the height of sophistication among first year high school students to point out that America has not always lived up to its ideals. That often stops arguments in their tracks as flustered proponents of those ideals have to concede the point. D’Souza makes three salient counterpoints. The first is that America is the only nation on earth that was founded upon such ideals, and America itself is considered by many, especially immigrants, as the embodiment of those ideals. The second is that ardent critics, like Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr., wanted to apply those ideals to slavery and civil rights, where America had fallen short. They did not reject them or have allegiance to an alternate set of ideals. Finally, just because an ideal is not always lived up to does not mean it should be abandoned. In fact, difficulty of attainment is often an argument for an ideal, and certainly for American ideals.
D’Souza examines the philosophies and tactics of counterculture icons Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers, and Saul Alinsky, intellectual foundations for what passes as thought with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He recognizes that they reject America’s founding ideals. The only use they have for them is as an engine for a massive guilt trip. At this point, he fails to take the offensive, and he should have. The question, unfortunately, is never asked: if they propose to tear down those ideals, with what do they propose to replace them? Showing Obama lying repeatedly about health care and dramatizing young Hillary Clinton learning from the master, Saul Alinsky, are good theatre, but amount to preaching to the choir. When that choir leaves the theatre, there is an intellectual battle to be fought, and while D’Souza leaves his audience with renewed appreciation for America’s greatness, he issues little in the way of intellectual ammunition.
The US government was designed to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The economic expression of this political philosophy is capitalism. Ordered liberty, individual rights, limited government, and capitalism are the antithesis of statism—unlimited government power—the unnamed ideal of Clinton, Obama, and their mentors. While proponents of America’s ideals must defend them and explain that coming up short is no argument for abandoning them, the statists have an impossible task. They seek to impose by force an unnatural equality of results, abandoning equality before the law. In so doing, they have to excuse the carnage their philosophy invariably inflicts, the tens of millions slaughtered by regimes in, et al, the USSR, Nazi Germany, China, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and Cambodia. They also have to ignore the glaring hypocrisy of those egalitarian paradises: the ruling class’s opulent lifestyles, vastly superior to those of ordinary citizens. Defending the real world results of American ideals is a snap compared to defending the real world results of statism. And only an untutored novice would allow the statists’ dodge of comparing reality to their pie-in-the-sky utopias.
D’Souza and all other champions of America’s founding ideals need to borrow Alinsky’s rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” Only by turning the tables, spotlighting their attempts to defend the indefensible, either by their own standards of spurious equality, or by our standards of rationality, justice, and liberty, can we begin to turn the statist tide. We must. This is, after all, a war, one we cannot lose.
This review was first published on straightlinelogic.com, 7/6/14.