By Michael d’Oliveira
Dinesh D’Souza is back with a new movie, “Death of A Nation.”
But D’Souza, a conservative commentator and filmmaker, has been trotting out possibly his favorite old hat: “the Democrats are the party of slavery.”
What he’s doing is weaponizing the historical fact that the Democratic Party supported the institution of slavery before and during the Civil War. He weaponizes it against the Democrats of today as a way of trying to associate them with slavery in Antebellum.
He touts it as an historical fact. And it is. The Democrats are the ones who supported slavery and tried to secede from the Union.
But here’s an important thing he leaves out: all those Democrats died 100 years ago or more.
The Democrats of 1860 were the party of slavery. The Democrats of today are not. None of them own slaves. None of their parents or grandparents or great grandparents owned slaves. This is not the same group of people.
During the Democratic presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the late 1930s, many Republicans championed isolationism and were against Roosevelt’s steps to bring America into World War II.
And just like the Democrats of 1860, the Republicans of 1940 are all dead. Trying to paint today’s GOP as the party of pre-World War II isolationism would not be fair. It’s a completely different group of people. Just as it wouldn’t be fair to associate today’s Democrats with pro-slavery elements in 1860.
In the trailer for his movie, D’Souza gets a basic fact wrong: “Lincoln was elected to unite a country and stop slavery.”
No, Lincoln wasn’t elected to stop slavery. Lincoln never said he would stop slavery when he ran for president in 1860. He merely promised to leave it alone where it already existed. That’s definitely not a pledge to end slavery.
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that,” wrote Lincoln in 1862.
Lincoln only truly decided to work to end slavery after he realized it was the cause of the Civil War and that it needed to be abolished in order to prevent another war in the future.
No one elected Lincoln in 1860 with any notions he would end slavery. 1864, yes. 1860, no.
Ending slavery only became possible after his election when the South seceded.
Why would anyone take “Death of A Nation” or D’Souza seriously if he can’t get that basic fact correct?