Control Nathan Rabin: Hillary's America
For the third entry in Control Nathan Rabin, the feature where I allow Patreon donors to this site to choose my torment, I gave readers a choice that isn't really much of a choice at all. Because no matter which selection you chose, I'd be fucked. It was like having to choose between two boxes when you know that there's an angry rattlesnake in both.
In this case, I masochistically decided to throw myself on one of two cinematic grenades written, directed and starring Dinesh D’Souza. The right-wing pundit may just possess the most punchable face in American’s politics, and that includes Trump, his sons, and surrogates like Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich, who seem to have secretly been competing—and competing hard—in a contest for the title of grossest old white man in America. I gave readers the choice between 2016: Obama’s America and Hillary’s America, and I was really, really hoping you’d write in something less soul-crushing because while I’ve made suffering the core of my career getting through Hillary’s America was fucking tough. Brutal.
At the start of D’Souza’s demented vanity project, a dude at a piano sings a Democrats-themed parody of “Happy Days Are Here Again” called “Crappy Days Are Here Again.” To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I know “Weird Al” Yankovic. I’ve worked with “Weird Al” Yankovic. I’d like to call “Weird Al” Yankovic a friend. You, Dinesh D’Souza, are no “Weird Al” Yankovic.
But it turns out D’Souza is terrible at more than just composing parody lyrics to famous songs. As I will argue extensively in my upcoming book on Postal, the entire world owes Uwe Boll an apology because Hillary’s America proves conclusively that D’Souza is an infinitely worse filmmaker than the towering Teutonic misunderstood genius. I didn’t just hate Hillary’s America on moral and political grounds: I was just as offended by the film aesthetically.
Hillary’s America is predicated on what it imagines is a mind-blowing reveal: even though African-Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic today it was actually a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves.
Is your mind blown yet?
D’Souza clearly thinks he’s found the smoking gun revealing the secret truth behind the Democratic party: even though Democrats talk a good game about empowering African-Americans and fighting police brutality, a mere one hundred and fifty to two hundred years ago, the Democrats had some very different ideas about black people.
D’Souza labors under the delusion that he’s found an explosive bit of heretofore unknown information that changes everything. In The Matrix terms (because I know how much all you morons on the right love that film created by a pair of occasionally brilliant trans women), D’Souza thinks the viewer is Neo and he’s Morpheus giving the world the Red Pill of ultimate truth.
You know who might know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and that Democrats were the party of slavery? Every American, that’s who. It’s the kind of thing they teach in, I would imagine, every elementary school in the nation, but D’Souza, like Donald Trump, thinks the public is real dumb. And not without reason. After all, we have elevated both men to ridiculous heights of power and popularity when, objectively speaking, they’re the fucking worst.
Donald Trump thinks you don't know Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. That might be because he was only recently made aware of that fact. D’Souza assumes that you think that FDR created the Democratic Party (as he states here) and because both men have such extraordinary contempt for your intelligence and judgment they’re wiling, even eager to translate history for you in the simplest, most reductive and self-aggrandizing manner possible.
Basically, it all comes down to this: the Democrats were the party of slavery and the genocide in the 1800s and nothing has changed in the intervening centuries only those slick Democratic gangster Fascists have just gotten slicker in their long, long cons.
There are some fascinating moments of cognitive dissonance when these D'Souza and Trump’s agendas accidentally conflict. D’Souza spends a lot of Hillary’s America letting you know, for example, that, unlike Democrats, he personally thinks slavery was really, really bad, like terrible.
As evidence that slavery was real bad and something that D’Souza and all other Godly Republicans strongly disapprove of, D’Souza spends a good ten minutes impugning the character of Andrew Jackson. D’Souza depicts Jackson as a genocidal madman whose belief in slavery and participation in the Trail of Tears make him the ultimate contemporary Democrat.
D’Souza acts as if Jackson would be canvassing for Bernie Sanders and have a “Black Lives Matter” sign in his front yard whereas in our universe, as opposed to the crazy alternate universe D’Souza and the rest of his D’Losers inhabit, it’s actually the most right-wing President of all time who has adopted Jackson as his hero and role model, and can’t stop talking about what a strong, proud, pro-American President Jackson was. It’s almost as if, despite belonging to different parties nearly two hundred years apart, Jackson actually has way more in common with a Republican like Trump than Democrats like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.
In our world, things have changed just a little in the 152 years since slavery ended. But in D’Souza’s world the only thing that has changed has been the tactics Democrats use to oppress black people. Before that proud Republican Abraham Lincoln could end the Democrat's beloved slavery, it was practiced on plantations. D’Souza posits that inner cities are the new plantation, and Democrats are intent on ensuring that blacks will forever live in a state of slavery, metaphorically, if not literally. D’Souza sees himself as a modern-day pundit version of Harriet Tubman, selflessly liberating African-American from the modern day slavery of voting Democratic.
The framing device of Hillary’s America has the wildly non-charismatic D’Souza, “investigating” the secret history of the Democratic Party with the help of countless “reenactments” where D’Souza stops just short of putting horns and bloody fangs on all of the Democratic characters in his grotesque freak show take on American history, while bathing the Republicans in golden light.
What’s frustrating about Hillary’s America is that a strong case can be made that Democrats do have a long and embarrassing of racism. I am a Democrat and I acknowledge that Democrats have a long and embarrassing history of racism. And since I’m currently in the process of reading Shattered, the book about Clinton’s Presidential campaign and loss for the Hillary Clinton entry in My World Of Flops, I am, if anything, overly aware of Clinton’s myriad flaws as a candidate, politician and human being.
But D’Souza isn’t interested in making that case. Instead, he’s intent on creating a revisionist narrative of American history where every act of evil is propagated by Democrats as part of their centuries-long scheme to destroy black people and, in D’Souza’s crazily hyperbolic words, “steal” America, while everything that’s good about the United States is the work of Republicans bravely standing up to those racist, genocidal Democrats.
To D’Souza, legalized abortion isn’t a matter of empowering women to take control over their lives and their bodies. No, it’s a cynical attempt by racist white Democrats to wipe out the black race, just as gun control isn’t about making our country safer. No, it’s all about making sure that poor, suffering African-Americans are defenseless against attacks by the Democratic Supper Club known as the Ku Klux Klan.
If the Democrats are tainted by racism and sexism and everything else (which we are), that’s because we live in a hopelessly racist and sexist and homophobic and xenophobic nation that only seems to be getting more bigoted and hateful. According to D’Souza, however, our country isn’t racist at all. Instead, it’s those evil Democrats, and only those evil Democrats, who are racist, and have someone managed to convince the populace that it’s actually the people aggressively pursuing racist laws and policies (like Donald Trump) who are bigoted.
Despite its title, Hillary’s America doesn’t get around to attacking Hillary Clinton until a final act that depicts Bill and Hillary Clinton, a pair of moderate, corporate and bank-friendly pragmatists as evil, bomb-throwing Bolshevik revolutionaries who won’t be satisfied until they’ve completely destroyed our country and recreated it in their own image. You know, kind of like Obama did. God knows that everything is different and worse now than it was eight years ago, and the society-destroying revolution of Obama, Clinton and their minions are obviously to blame.
Early in Hillary’s America there’s a wonderful, crowd-pleasing moment when D’Souza goes to jail. There’s another heartwarming, happiness-producing moment at the very end where he concedes that because he’s a convicted criminal he cannot vote but everything in between is the worst kind of garbage.
And while I’m still intent on covering one of Steve Bannon’s documentaries for this column, I think I might cheat a little and make next week’s choice between Casablanca and The Godfather. I’m not saying I need a break from all this soul-crushing garbage, necessarily but, real talk, I really, really need a break from all this soul-crushing garbage.
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