“When people fear their government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there’s liberty.”
That quote, shared by former CIA officer Kevin Shipp, received a standing ovation and effectively summed up the rest of the program at Turning Points in America’s “America at a Crossroads” event, Sunday, Dec. 3 in Jacksonville.
A tribute to the four Americans slain during the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the memorial tribute opened with a wreath presentation ceremony – one for each fallen American – and salutes to military veterans, first responders and America. The program, which featured several conservative speakers, including keynote speaker Dinesh D’Souza, offered a scathing indictment on the ways in which the Benghazi attack was handled by former President Barack Obama and his administration.
“My home has better security than our embassy [in Libya],” said Stephanie Jason, who visited the embassy just three weeks after her good friend, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, was killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. “I can’t think of a more egregious and shameful thing than what happened in Libya, and to leave these men to die … And after the fact, they pretend as if it doesn’t matter. It does matter. Benghazi matters.”
D’Souza, a best-selling author, filmmaker and political commentator, agreed, opening his remarks with an expression of relief over the new leadership in Washington, D.C.
“I, for one, am very glad we’re not living in ‘Hillary’s America,’” he said, referencing the title of his 2016 documentary about former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to D’Souza, Clinton and the rest of the Obama administration – including the former president himself – bear the brunt of the blame for what occurred in Benghazi and the controversial coverup that followed.
“We have a government that is charged with the primary duty of protecting us from foreign and domestic thugs,” D’Souza said. “You have a situation in Benghazi which raises the question, ‘What were these people thinking? What actually is going on here?’”
What was “going on,” D’Souza contends, was a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to weaken America’s influence around the world.
“Never before have we had a secretary of state essentially putting American foreign policy up to the highest bidder,” he said. “With Obama and Hillary, we got this confluence of forces—the one guy trying to scale back American influence in the world, and on the other side, you might say, the latest incarnation of the Corleone family installed in high office.”
In contrast, D’Souza characterized the election of President Donald Trump last November as a “national reprieve” in which Americans can find a glimmer of hope for the future.
“This guy is pulling out of the trade pact, and he’s fixing Obamacare and he’s got the tax bill, but in the middle of all this, he finds time to swat Meryl Streep, and Saturday Night Live and the NFL,” D’Souza said. “Trump recognizes the importance of fighting not only the political war, but the culture war.”
Conservatives have been losing that cultural battle for decades, D’Souza said, arguing that with Trump and a new generation of social media influencers leading the charge, the tables might finally be turning.
“As conservatives, we have been a little bit negligent in letting the other side become so dominant in academia, and the media and the whole entertainment industry,” he said. “We are in a situation where we need to use the weapons at hand, and we have the chance to make a big impact if we fight tough, if we fight creatively and if we use our influence.
“We are at one of those moments in American history where America has to be put back together again,” D’Souza continued. “This America of ours is not lost. It’s not even close to being lost. But, some very bad people have done it a great deal of damage, and it is our job, starting now, to begin the long work of restoration.”