Filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza returns to Jacksonville for Benghazi tribute

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It’s been six years since the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, and still many are searching for answers. But while some have resigned themselves to the possibility that they may never know the full truth of what happened that night, attendees of the America First Benghazi tribute event held by Turning Points in America in Jacksonville on Saturday, Nov. 3 were determined to honor those fallen Americans and ensure that their sacrifices would not be forgotten.

The event, held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, featured best-selling author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza as keynote speaker, as well as remarks from Rep. Ted Yoho, former CIA officer Kevin Shipp, Middle East and North Africa expert Stephanie Jason and Charles Woods, father of CIA officer and former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who lost his life in the attacks.

“Six years later, we still do not know the truth about Benghazi,” Woods said. “There were naval vessels just a few miles offshore from Libya armed with Tomahawk missiles and other precision weapons. Why was the order not given to rescue Ty, the ambassador (Chris Stevens) and the other Americans in Benghazi?”

But while several of the speakers at Saturday’s event expressed their lasting anger over the way in which the attacks were handled by former President Obama and his administration, Woods said that he had chosen the path of forgiveness, stating that he harbored “no animosity” towards those responsible for his son’s death, and that he believed something good would ultimately come from the tragedy, if it hadn’t already.

“Maybe, just maybe, someone was inspired to lay down their life for our country,” he said. “Maybe someone became an American hero in the eyes of their children and their spouse. … Maybe someone learned to forgive. Maybe, in a little way, what happened in Benghazi changed the direction of the last presidential election … (and) propelled our country in a better direction, as well.”

D’Souza, who spoke at last year’s tribute, discussed a range of topics from the Benghazi attacks to the current state of politics in the United States and his most recent documentary “Death of a Nation,” in which he compares President Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln and discusses the roots of racism in America. 

D’Souza also took the time to praise Trump for leveling the political playing field for Republicans, noting that Democrats had long held an unfair advantage until Trump came along.

“Republican candidates didn’t just have to take on the Democrats,” he said. “They had to defeat the Democratic candidate, and academia, and the media and all of Hollywood. … Now, we have Trump.”

D’Souza added that what sets the president apart from previous Republican candidates is his “need to punch back,” as well as the fact that Trump understands the value of winning what D’Souza calls “the culture war.”

“In the middle of everything,” he noted, “he still finds time to swat Meryl Streep.”

From the somber reflections on the Benghazi attacks to the laughs over the president’s many quirks, the event evoked countless emotions by the time D’Souza closed his remarks. As he did, though, he left them with a sense of optimism for America’s future.

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