Let me spare Armond White the trouble and call America: Freedom to Fascism a whacked-out piece of anti-American propaganda. The documentary begins as a rant about the not-so-unpopular belief that the IRS lacks the legitimate authority to collect income taxes, an argument director Aaron Russo’s interviewees dutifully flatter—everyone else is a nutjob or unavailable for comment, ostensibly because they are unable to hand over the legal documents that state we have to pay the IRS. Russo makes a good case against the organization (the crux: that the 16th Amendment was improperly ratified), its illegitimate power and abuse of existing laws, but does so sneakily, belligerently, and from a grotesquely unattractive soap box. There’s no consistency of style here, suggesting the film was constructed largely in the editing room, finished minutes before it was screened for press: Russo possesses the grace of an angry taxi driver, but when he’s too tired to narrate this scare tactic himself (was Shannon Doherty unavailable?), he allows ugly skits and scrolling white-on-black text scored to manipulative music that might sound more appropriate in a Halloween movie to pander for him. The film is prone to truth-twisting and simplification but might have been all right had it ended after one of Russo’s interviewees declares that the proof against the illegality of income tax collection is irrefutable. “Period. End of argument,” the man says. But this is where the film morphs into a fear-mongering spectacle: about the value of the dollar, the Federal Reserve, and the RFID chips the government is bound to implant in your body if you don’t say no to the National ID cards coming our way in 2008. Russo treats his audience like Pavlovian dogs, fascistically scaring us into submission with quotes from Orwell, snarky use of the American anthem, and images of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and George Washington, but never clarifies if he’ll pay our legal fees should we heed his Word.
- Cinema Libre Studio
- 105 min
- Aaron Russo
- Sheldon S. Cohen, Ron Paul, Phil Hart, Katherine Albrecht, Catherine Austin Fitts, G. Edward Griffin, Michael Ruppert, Irwin Schiff, Joe Banister
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: