Lawmaker to Push Bill Requiring Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Be Shown in Schools
A Florida state senator plans to introduce a bill that would make Dinesh D'Souza's docudrama, America, required viewing for most teenagers in the state, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Friday.
Republican Alan Hays said he’ll introduce in November his one-page bill that simply states that students in the 1,700 Florida public high schools and middle schools are to be shown the film unless their parents object.
The plan is sure to draw fire from liberals not only because D’Souza is a prominent conservative but because he is also behind the movie, 2016: Obama’s America, which is a profoundly negative take on Democratic U.S. president Barack Obama.
America, the movie, espouses a conservative point of view toward telling history. D'Souza takes on leftist arguments that portray the U.S. in a negative light, and he specifically attacks Howard Zinn, author of the book A People’s History of the United States, often considered the most widely used history book in U.S. academia. The movie shows actors Matt Damon and Woody Harrelson praising the book.
Hays said the purpose of his proposal is to introduce more balance into Florida schools.
“I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.
Those who oppose the plan are also likely to point out that D’Souza could be headed to prison after he pleaded guilty to illegally promising to reimburse some people who donated to a friend’s Senate campaign. D’Souza faces up to two years for that transgression and he will be sentenced in September.
Nevertheless, the bill could pass, given that Republicans hold a substantial majority in Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives, and Gov. Rick Scott is also a Republican.
“I’ve looked at history books and talked to history teachers and the message the students are getting is very different from what is in the movie,” Hays said. “It’s dishonest and insulting. The students need to see the truth without political favoritism.”
To that end, Hays said he wouldn’t object if teachers paired America with a liberal film to show the political differences. Indeed, many schools already show Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and some of Michael Moore’s left-leaning films, though it’s certainly more unusual to actually require the viewing of a particular movie, as Hays intends with his bill.
“The most dreaded disease in America today is political correctness. We need to inform our students of our whole history, and teach them how to think, not what to think,” Hays said. “Let them talk with their teachers, their peers and their parents, then draw their own conclusions. But they need both sides, and this movie shows a side they just aren’t seeing.”
Hays said his intent is to reach out to charitable groups that would supply schools with the necessary copies of the movie so as not to burden Florida taxpayers.