This week my husband and I went to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie, “Hillary’s America.” The fairly brief part at the end that actually focused on Hillary, Bill, The Clinton Foundation, etc., was very disturbing. This woman and her cartel will be very dangerous should she be elected to the Presidency. The movie was very persuasive on this point.
Mr. D’Souza began with the time he was briefly a political prisoner in the U.S., having been convicted and sentenced to jail time for an infraction (giving anonymously a larger than allowed campaign contribution to a friend) for which no one else had ever spent time in prison. His rather lengthy reenactment of his time in prison, besides the human interest aspect, showed how his interaction with other inmates led to his theory that the Democrat Party has adopted criminal methods to scam the voters and attain power.
To this point the movie was very powerful and credible. Then Mr. D’Souza engages in revisionist history, which I, as a history buff, deplore. The truth of history would have served him just as well had he bothered to broaden his research.
A major theme of the movie was the depravity of the Democrat Party, and Mr. D’Souza strays from historical accuracy in trying to prove the party was consistently rotten all the way back to its very roots. In depicting the South, slavery, and the “Civil War,” he used resources written from the Northern perspective, which demonize Southerners and claim the moral high ground for the North. Knowing how news and current events are slanted today and how disinformation is a calculated strategy, why does it never occur to researchers that they must consult both Northern and Southern versions to properly understand that contentious time? Many Southerners are going to be offended by this movie, and on their behalf I will address some of the discrepancies:
- D’Souza stated there were no Northern slaveholders during the War Between the States. I couldn’t believe he would make a statement so easily refuted. There were many slaveholders in the states that did not secede. In Mr. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, he craftily made it apply only to those areas controlled by the South (where he had no authority, so it freed not a single slave), and not to slaves in the North, for he would have had another rebellion on his hands had he freed his own citizens’ slaves. In recruiting soldiers, the North never said they were fighting to free the slaves because no one was willing to fight and die for the Negroes; they would join to restore the Union. Union General U. S. Grant kept his slaves throughout the war and did not free them for several years after the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was passed and ratified in 1865.
- D’Souza repeatedly said the “Civil War” was a war to free the slaves. It did not start with that goal, but evolved by 1863 as a means to convince Britain and France it would be immoral to take sides with the South, which both were on the verge of doing. Support by either would have resulted in the South winning and being recognized as a separate nation. As further proof the war was not originally about slavery, it is documented that when the South first seceded, Lincoln offered a Constitutional Amendment (the 13th, which passed but was never ratified and thus died) protecting slavery forever where it then existed, if the South would come back into the Union. The South had more fundamental issues with the North, so declined. It was not all about slavery.
- Southern Lt Gen Nathan Bedford Forrest was slandered yet again as the originator of the Ku Klux Klan. He was not. The beginnings of the Klan are murky to say the least, but there is enough information to rule out Forrest. Many point to his nickname, “Wizard of the Saddle,” confusing it with the wizards of the KKK. There was no KKK during the War and that’s when his nickname was earned, because he was a superb rider and led a troop of cavalry that often accomplished the seemingly impossible. Forrest, like many good men in the South, was a member of the KKK for a short time, but resigned and said it had become too radical and should be abolished. Forrest spent the rest of his life working for the welfare of the freed slaves and for racial reconciliation, and was greatly beloved by blacks. D’Souza’s defamation is another example of no good deed going unpunished.
President Andrew Jackson was vilified as a Democrat and was almost demonic in the movie. He represented the repugnant Democrats (presented as a Southern party, though there were many Democrats in the North) who owned and mistreated slaves. D’Souza’s depiction of the evils of slavery was graphic and illustrative of why slavery should have been abolished and should never rise again. Jackson, however, though imperfect, did accomplish much that was positive for his country.
But contrary to D’Souza’s assertions, there was plenty of blame beyond the Democrats of the time. Many fortunes were made in the maritime slave trade, which originated almost exclusively from New England ports. There were zero Southern slave ships. To which political party did these wealthy investors belong? I would guess they were Whigs, a party which disbanded and re-formed in 1856 as the Republican Party. Of course this does not fit D’Souza’s narrative, which is, “Democrats: Bad; Republicans, Good.” I say, “Not always.”
Besides Yankee slave traders, who else participated in forming the new Republican Party? I’m sure there were many good people, but one group who found a compatible home was comprised of recent refugees from a series of failed Marxist-inspired revolutions that occurred around 1848 in most of the European countries. These faithful followers of Karl Marx, known as Forty-Eighters, who had made themselves unwelcome in their home countries, came to America to try their luck. They insinuated themselves into positions as teachers, newspaper editors, and other areas of influence; and ran for public office.
When the War Between the States began, many joined the Union Army and those with prior military experience became officers and generals in Lincoln’s army. Their viciousness and anti-Christian methods of warfare against the South are legendary. One member of Lincoln’s cabinet, Charles Dana, was a close confidant of Marx.
From the distance of history, I think we can safely say that these Marxists failed to mold the Republican Party entirely into their image, although for decades after the War the Republicans were in power and the party riddled with corruption and cronyism. I think it likely some Marxists saw the error of their ways and became good Americans. But there was a definite undercurrent of Marxist idealism that never totally dissipated. I think it later re-emerged in the Democrat Party under the Progressive or Liberal label.
In D’Souza’s movie, Andrew Jackson was also an Indian fighter who drove the Creeks and Seminoles into the swamps of Florida and had the Cherokees removed through the Trail of Tears to reservations west of the Mississippi. We who are living in a world that is relatively safe should not judge harshly what our forebears felt necessary for peace and tranquility and a desire to settle on Indian owned lands. Right or wrong, this had been going on since the first whites settled on this continent. My own Indian ancestors, who met Captain John Smith and his party and befriended them, in a later generation were given 4,000 acres in Virginia where they were promised they could live securely, only to have it eroded by grants to white settlers and finally revoked. Had Jackson not resettled the Indians of the Southeast, a subsequent President would have. It was inevitable.
President Lincoln, who was practically sanctified in the movie as a founder of the Republican Party, initiated the transcontinental railroad project, which gave lands adjoining the railroad half to the railroad barons and half to the federal government. This was Indian land, belonging to the plains Indians. When they objected and began harassing and killing the white invaders, Lincoln sent troops to keep them at bay. Once the War Between the States was over, hardened Union troops seasoned on killing Southerners and devastating their land moved out west and committed near genocide on the Indians.
When Jackson’s cruelty to Indians was highlighted in the movie as an atrocity by a Democrat, no mention was made of the greater injustice done to the plains Indians by Lincoln and his successors, Republicans all.
I wish D’Souza had devoted more time to the Clintons and less to his crusade to prove the historical decadence of the Democrat Party. In the many decades both parties have been in existence, there have been good and bad officeholders in each, and corruption aplenty. No party has a monopoly on virtue. The modern Democrat Party is much worse than it ever was in history.
One of D’Souza’s prime objectives was to compare the blacks under (Democrat) slavery to the blacks of today living in urban plantations under their current masters, the modern Democrat Party, who keep them down and solicit their votes. That is certainly true, but he employed historical error in developing his theory.
The first party to mine blacks for votes was the Republican Party, immediately after the “Civil War.” The newly freed slaves fresh from a life of servitude were by no stretch of the imagination prepared to join society as competently functioning individuals, yet they were immediately given the vote (which always went Republican) and were elected as Republicans to seats in State legislatures, which were wildly mismanaged during the years of Reconstruction.
Reconstruction, which was a 12-year military occupation of the South by the Union Army, was a time of Northern vengeance against the Southern people, in every way imaginable. The North incited freed slaves against their former masters and failed to provide Southerners protection when predictable violence occurred. This is the primary reason the KKK was originally formed.
I use quotation marks when referring to the “Civil War.” A true civil war is when opposing groups vie for control of their common country. The Confederacy wanted divorce, not conquest.
When the original States formed the union under the Articles of Confederation and later the U.S. Constitution, it was so well understood that all States were sovereign and each had the right to secede that it was not put into writing in the compacts. It was taken for granted right up until the South actually did it, invoking that part of the Declaration of Independence once adopted by the colonies: “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The defeat of the South effectively eliminated the right of secession. The War proved that the stronger and more ruthless adversary always wins, no matter who is actually in the right.
Thus it has always been: which is another reason to fear putting someone like Hillary Clinton into a position of virtually unlimited power. Mr. D’Souza’s conclusion is correct.