A bill requiring every 8th and 11th grader in the state to watch a controversial conservative documentary the group Media Matters for America called "racially-charged agit-prop" just got a boost.
Earlier this week, Lakeland area State Rep. Neil Combee sponsored a House version of a law Umatilla area State Senator Alan Hays originally proposed in the State Senate last month.
"A lot of young people in our schools and colleges are taught a kind of negative story about America — we're the 'bad' guy. This film is intended to counter that and give people a reason to love America," Hays said last summer.
A sponsor in both chambers means the bill could have some traction.
The film, America: Imagine the World Without Her was directed by Dinesh D'Souza, whose uber-conservative documentaries have led the media to dub him the "Michael Moore of the right." It received only an 8% critics' rating on the site Rotten Tomatoes.
If you just watch the trailer, you may think the film is simply reaffirming of U.S. history as told by Howard Zinn, and it's totally packed with Noam Chomsky and others who think slavery and the Trail of Tears weren't cool.
Alas, all we see in the trailer is, um, challenged, for most of the film, except at the tail end, when D'Souza goes of on a bizarre conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton's and President Obama's connections to leftist leader Saul Alinsky; Alinsky is the connection between the two.
Here's what Hays told the Tampa Bay Times:
When he first began watching the film, Hays said he was flabbergasted: The narrator "was interviewing those who were espousing what I consider anti-American views."
By the time the documentary ended 105 minutes later, he had a completely different thought.
"I looked at my wife and I said, 'Every student in America needs to see this movie.' " Hays praised its message of American exceptionalism.
Among the film's arguments is the suggestion that even though slavery was wrong, African-Americans are better off for having been brought to the U.S. against their will and subsequently brutalized.
The lawmakers said the aim of showing the film to students is to provide a "balance" to the likes of Chomsky and Zinn, the latter of which's A People's History of the United States of America tells America's history from the perspective of the conquered, not the conquerers, who have historically controlled the narrative. (Smallpox blankets? Nonsense, my friend; those were sleep enhancement shrouds!)
Yet showing the film might be tantamount to screening The Room in an acting class.
In a scathing June 30th review for the Daily Beast, Andrew Romano wrote, "Documentaries document things. D’Souza makes things up — mostly arguments that don’t make any sense."
There has yet to be much clamor from the left on the possibility that most Florida kids will be compelled to watch the film, but if the bill shows signs of further advancement, that may change.