Conservative author and pundit Dinesh D'Souza could soon see his latest documentary become a part of Florida's education curriculum, should two state lawmakers get their way.
A pair of Florida Senate and House bills dubbed "Patriotic Film Screening" would require all eighth and 11th grade students to watch "America: Imagine the World Without Her," unless parents submit written permission for their child to be excused.
The D’Souza film, which follows surprise hit and anti-Obama film "2016: Obama's America," seeks to recast common criticisms of the United States, such as slavery. Bill sponsor state Sen. Alan Hays told the News-Press that it is needed to counter"erroneous" information being taught in history classrooms, which he said is overly negative. "Frankly, it's embarrassing that we allow these lies to be taught in our school system," Hays said. "Unfortunately, our parents and our school board members have not kept up with the misrepresentation of American history that is being perpetrated in our school system, and this movie gives a totally different view."
"America" was widely panned by critics and those on the left, while making $2.75 million its first weekend. The movie is a "slick, sprawling celebration of American exceptionalism that could, much like its predecessor, make a bundle by rigorously reinforcing the deeply-held beliefs and darkest suspicions of its target audience," Variety's Joe Leydon wrote in a June review.
D'Souza, who was sentenced in September to eight months of community confinement after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws, told the News-Press that he has condensed the film into an 80-minute "educational version." He also said schools "consistently" deliver a message that the United States is a "disgrace."
“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 told the Hollywood Reporter in July, when he first announced his intention to file the bill. “It’s dishonest and insulting. The students need to see the truth without political favoritism.”
It's not clear how far the bill will go. The proposal has received some push-back from anti-Common Core activists in the state. "How can you rage against Common Core forcing teachers to follow geographically-broad curriculum, and then support this?" Libertarian Party of Florida at-large director Matt Worley told the News-Press. The bill is the "height of hypocrisy," he added.