The Old America
Lisa Noël Babbage
Author, Teacher, Philanthropist
Aug. 5, 2018
“In 1860, a year before the Civil War, no Republican persons owned slaves. All 400,000 slaves in America were owned by Democrats.”
When an American president screens a historical romance of the Ku Klux Klan, the premier white supremacy and racial terror organization in America, as a social event in the White House, America is in trouble. While we would never expect anyone to romanticize the Klan period, we would also never expect an American president to publicly entertain such a film.
It’s common sense to assume that personal tendencies toward racist ideologies might be the inward inclination of any person holding office. No saint has ever been elected to political office. However, we do expect our political officers to put aside their own personal inclinations that fall under the term discrimination while in office and as it pertains to matters of state. Of course, there were times in this nation when this was more so done in theory instead of practice, especially when we consider Jim Crow laws, and the need for 13th, 15th, or 19th amendments to the Constitution.
But why would the President of one of the most powerful nations on the planet sit through three hours of KKK dogma if he did not believe it. The movie, Birth of a Nation, was captured on twelve reels. This means that the President sat not only through the silent film, but also through reel change after reel change, of this interpretation of American history. Why would this be ‘ok’ at a time when slavery is abolished by constitutional act and by American morality as well as a four year Civil War. The ‘ok’ was justified by a friendship.
Democratic President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) screened “Birth of a Nation” at the bidding of his college friend, Thomas Dixon, Jr., whose book, The Clansman, was the inspiration for the film. Dixon and Wilson’s friendship penetrated politics at the Federal level and as D’Souza reminds, took a step toward changing America into a new nation that none of us are proud of.
But Wilson is dead and so is Dixon, so why did (and is) “Birth of a Nation” rake in so much box office money? The first answer is that original screening prices were sold at premium, upwards of $50 for a single ticket by today’s standards. But that’s not the only reason. Dinesh D’Souza’s speech at the Young America Foundation sheds light on the many other reasons why the old America is something we all must fight for, regardless of the faultiness of our tainted hearts and self-centered personal opinion.