Almost a century ago, President Woodrow Wilson watched approvingly as the title card appeared on the screen, "The former enemies of North and South are united again in defense of their Aryan birthright."
Birth of a Nation was the first movie to play inside the White House. Many credit the film, based on the novel The Clansman, with reviving the KKK and exporting it from New Jersey to Oregon.
Woodrow Wilson was the first modern progressive Democrat in the White House. The road to the Democrats that we know today ran directly through the White House where Birth of a Nation played. And so did the rebirth of the KKK. When the Democrats complain about the Klan, Dinesh D’Souza reminds us in The Big Lie that they were behind the KKK and they revived it not once, but twice.
In the Democrat myth, their racism was a vestige of a geographical base that they abandoned as they became progressives. But in The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, Dinesh D’Souza dives deep into the sordid and forgotten history of the left and exposes its “proto-fascist” roots. These roots are not geographical, but intellectual. It wasn’t land that corrupted them, but power.
The Big Lie, D’Souza describes, is the idea that “the very people who champion the centralized state, have a long history of racism and racial terrorism, used the power of government against their political opponents… and continue to use cultural intimidation and street thuggery to enforce their ideology, insist that they are the ones who are anti-fascist.”
Instead, he argues that the elements of fascism have historically been associated with the left.
As D’Souza writes of Wilson, his was a “model of centralized power with him at the helm and all of society in supine obedience to progressive leftist dictates.” The model, he notes, derived from the same Hegelian and Prussian sources as that of the totalitarian nightmare that was still to come.
“Wilson ridiculed the American founders—he was the first American president to do so—calling their ideas about individual rights, decentralized power, and check and balances, simple-minded and outdated,” D’Souza writes. This would become the ideological model of the Democrats.
A political movement that had once stood against big government had become a big government party. Its elitist vision was innately hostile to rule by the people and to the traditions this country was founded on. The new plantation would be national with a big government as its master and all men as its slaves.
Another civil war had been fought and won. Not by the North or South, but by the fascist left.
Wilson would pave the way for FDR, the man whom D’Souza calls “America’s actual fuhrer.” He documents how the New Deal drew its inspiration from Mussolini’s fascism. The left admired fascism and Nazism for the same reason that it now looks to China. The left found a natural common cause with totalitarian movements that put their faith in a collective state run by the naturally superior elite.
Nothing has changed.
The left is an anti-democratic movement convinced that it alone holds the key to a better world. And The Big Lie invaluably documents how this anti-democratic cult dominated the Democrats.
Gleichschaltung. It was the term that the Nazis used to describe the consolidation of control over all aspects of society. “Gleichschaltung,” D’Souza writes, “is precisely what the left is attempting today, not merely with American universities but with all of American culture.”
D’Souza argues that it’s the basis for the left’s plan for America.
He traces the campus wars back to the rise of Nazism. The treatment of Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State had its shameful roots in the persecution of Jewish academics in Weimar Germany.
The scene that D’Souza describes from almost a century ago is oddly familiar today. Campus Nazis formed a committee against him. “They encouraged students to boycott his lectures. Nazi youth then showed up and disrupted Lessing’s classes.” Lessing castigated the campus Nazis “who accept no individual responsibilities but pose as spokesman for a group or an impersonal ideal.”
The impersonal ideal detached from personal responsibility is the essence of utopian tyranny. Its idealized perfection displaces any personal ethics, morals and principles.
The street riots tearing apart America had their echo in Weimar Germany. The passionate defenses of Planned Parenthood had their origins in eugenics. Even the constant historical revisionism, the Big Lie, was born out of a conviction in a cultural power so total that it could not only transform the future, but reach backward in time to change the past and redefine meaning across all of human civilization.
This power could transform the fascists of yesterday into the anti-fascists of today. Yesterday’s racists become today’s anti-racists even while championing a racial politics with echoes of the Third Reich.
“Our fascist left,” D’Souza writes, “purports to be anti-fascist.”
The left has created an American fascism built on opposition to the very thing that it is. The left claims to stand for tolerance and civil rights even as it intolerantly destroys every last vestige of individual freedom. A century of fascism has left us a divided nation teetering on the edge of tyranny. And the leftists who claim to be saving us from it are actually the ones doing their vest best to implement it.
That is the Big Lie at the heart of the book and the political conflict that D’Souza lays out between big government and individual liberty in which, “the real fascists pretend to be anti-fascist while accusing the real anti-fascists of being fascists.”
And when Republicans go on the defensive against accusations of fascism and racism, they miss the real threat from the real fascists and racists of the left
Republicans, are “taking a very big risk if they seek to appease the fascism of the political Left,” D’Souza warns. He describes the left’s efforts to oust President Trump as a “fascist coup” that cannot be dismissed as the ordinary state of politics. To do would be as grave an error as treating Hitler and Mussolini as ordinary politicians guilty only of the occasional expression of overheated rhetoric.
The Big Lie’s fundamental message is that, “We, who are accused of being fascists, must understand that we are the true anti-fascists.”
Conservative politics is liberal in the classical sense. It is ever at odds with the illiberal politics of totalitarian movements, whether it’s Nazis or Communism. The society that conservatives are fighting for is tolerant of individual aspirations, but intolerant of political repression, that measures character not racial identity, and that believes in individuals in a relationship with God, not with government.
The left, having “taken over the culture”, has set its sights on “taking over the country.” In The Big Lie, D’Souza calls on his readers to uproot the fascism of the left before we go the way of Germany. He calls on conservatives to rise to oppose the left’s fascist culture war by building opposing cultural institutions in the academic and entertainment spheres utilizing the disruptive power of the internet.
The Big Lie warns us that the left is not just a political movement. Its escalating extremism carries with it a cold breath from the darkest portion of the twentieth century. Complacency in the face of fascism can be fatal. Even when it doesn’t kill people, it kills republics and buries freedom.
To resist the Big Lie, we must fight for truth. Words matter. Meanings count. Principles define us. We are not the fascists. They are. We are the real anti-fascists. And we are fighting for our freedom.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.