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America: Freedom to Fascism
By Brandon Judell
As whacked out as it may seem at times, "America: Freedom to Fascism" is possibly the most important American documentary to be released this year after Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth." After all, the latter predicts the death of mankind, while the former just prognosticates the demise of liberty in these United States.
Its director, Aaron Russo, from the film's very first moment, offers up a fascinating cornucopia of assertions about how Americans have been brainwashed in the past century by bankers, politicians, and the media to voluntarily give up their rights and their income.
He also makes some claims for himself in his press kit. Some might bear extra research while others are well known: Russo "designed the first ladies' bikini underwear"; he "was responsible for bringing Led Zeppelin to America for the first time"; he promoted such acts as The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane; plus he managed Bette Midler and produced "The Rose" which earned the diva an Oscar nom.
Russo also sought to become president of the United States via the Libertarian Party in 2004 but narrowly lost the nomination.
So now the gent has opted to outdo Michael Moore on the documentary front, and he seemingly has done so, at least in his audacious array of "outrageous" assertions.
First of all, Russo convincingly argues that there is no reason for any U.S. citizen t o pay income tax. Apparently, there is no law on the books that states we must give up part of our hard-earned salaries. He then details how over 20 folks who have been brought to court for nonpayment of taxes have won their cases against the IRS.
After taxes, the film takes on the Federal Reserve, electronic voting, the national identity card, and how the Clinton and Bush administrations have eroded our civil liberties.
Russo has noted: "America is heading relentlessly towards becoming a totalitarian nation. Over the years, America has changed from being a country by the people, for the people into a country where government and its corporate institutions are in charge."
The film in fact opens with a quote from George Orwell: "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." And that's just what Russo feels his direction of this film is: a brave, seditious deed. The audience I was surrounded by at an advance screening agreed. They cheered the mavericks, and they laughed at and booed the "villains." Then they applauded "America's" finale.
But that could be expected. A film such as this one usually winds up preaching to the already converted. But it would be a shame if the viewership of "America: Freedom to Fascism" wound up being a limited one. Even if Russo's feature might be one-sided and even if a few of its arguments might eventually be discovered to be exaggerated, this political journey through the last 100 years or so of our history will make you realize how fragile our democracy is, and how if we all sit around on our hands doing nothing, what we so treasure might one day be gone.
Director/producer/writer: Aaron Russo
Music: David Benoit
Interviewed: Sheldon S. Cohen, Congressman Ron Paul, M.D., Peter Gibbons, Edwin Viera, Jr., James Bovard
Copyright © Brandon Judell 2006
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