Two critiques of the execrable Oliver Stone revisionist history program now airing on Showtime. The sad thing is that Stone’s revisionism is taught every day in college history and political science courses. Henry Wallace (a one time U.S. Vice President under FDR) was one of the worst dupes in American history. However he later repudiated his pro Soviet views.
by Clifford D. May
In the 1930s, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Nazi ideology. In their eyes, Hitler was simply restoring Germany’s wounded pride and rebuilding an economy battered by World War I and the harsh treaty that ended the conflict. Surely, Hitler and the German people preferred compromise to conflict, peace to war. This view turned out to be wrong, of course, and tens of millions of people were massacred as a result.
In the wake of World War II, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Communist ideology. In their eyes, Marxist/Leninist societies were emancipating workers from capitalism. This view turned out to be wrong as well, and in lands as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cambodia, tens of millions of people were massacred as a result. Today, of course, we see the world more clearly, don’t we? Well, some do, some don’t.
Ronald Radosh was born in 1937 in New York City and raised in a Communist household. In his youth, he planned to become a leader of the American Communist movement. But he became a historian — [........] Most recently he has written a critique in The Weekly Standard of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, which premiered this week on Showtime, a cable network owned by CBS. Radosh makes clear that this series, in fact, reveals no “untold history” — it merely reheats and rehashes the party line pushed by the Soviets and their fellow travelers during the Cold War, a line that Stone swallowed long ago and has since been regurgitating.
Stone argues, as Radosh puts it, that “the Soviet Union’s leader in the 1930s and ’40s, Joseph Stalin, has ‘been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,’ so what is needed is a program allowing viewers to walk in both his and Hitler’s shoes ‘to understand their point of view.’”
Stone also alleges that “after World War II the United States moved ‘to the dark side,’ so that by the time the country was engaged in the Vietnam war, ‘We were not on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.’”
Radosh points out not only the factual errors littered throughout Stone’s series but also the conspicuous omissions. For example:
Viewers are told that World War II ended with the world sharing the hopes and dreams of progressives everywhere, led by Stalin, whose desire for continued Allied unity and peace was rebuffed by Winston Churchill and rejected by President Roosevelt’s accidental successor, Harry Truman. The viewer is never told of Soviet goals or practices, like the brutal occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army and the overthrow of its governments and installation of Soviet puppet regimes, except when the narrative justifies this as necessary for Soviet security.
Stone makes a hero of Vice President Henry Wallace, who, Radosh notes, in 1944 “traveled to 22 cities in Soviet Siberia” and “described the slave labor colony of Magadan, which the Soviet secret police had transformed into a Potemkin village staffed by actors and NKVD personnel, as a ‘combination TVA and Hudson’s Bay Company.’”
Later that same year, Roosevelt bumped Wallace from the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket, replacing him with Truman. Wallace’s consolation prize was secretary of commerce, but President Truman fired him in 1946. The cause of Wallace’s firing was call for the U.S. to recognize Soviet domination of Eastern Europe; he later “opposed the creation of NATO, advocated abandoning Berlin in response to the Soviet blockade, denounced the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction as ‘the martial plan,’ and justified the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia as a measure to thwart a plot by fascist forces.”
Wallace went on to create the Progressive Party, which, as Radosh notes, was essentially a Communist Party front. [........]
Coincidentally, this exercise in propaganda is hitting the small screens just as Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956, is appearing in bookstores. Following up on her 2003 Pulitzer Prize–winning volume on the Soviet prison system, Gulag: A History, Applebaum draws on recently opened archives and interviews with survivors of Communist oppression. She “eloquently illuminates the methods by which Stalin’s state imprisoned half the European continent,” as historian Jennifer Siegel phrases it in one of many favorable reviews.
Will more people be educated by Applebaum or misinformed by Stone? The answer is obvious. Does it matter? In an age of moral equivalence, how much damage can be done by yet another generous serving? So what if more Americans — especially those who call themselves “progressives” — come to believe that old Uncle Joe Stalin got a raw deal, and Harry Truman was a “war criminal”?
I think it does matter. Not only because post-Soviet Russia remains conspicuously unfree, but, more important, because those persuaded that the 20th-century fight against totalitarianism was not worth the candle are likely to conclude that defending America and the West is not necessary now — a time when totalitarianism is again on the march, this time seeking not to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat or rule by a master race, but domination by religious supremacists.
It is no exaggeration to describe those who embrace the ideology of jihadism as neo-Stalinists. They, too, insist on infusing their ideology — which, in this case, is their theology as well — into every aspect of life. They, too, attack not just those who oppose them but also those who merely refuse to fully submit to their authority. Their victims include Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and, not least, Muslims — most recently those whose ancient mosques and shrines have been destroyed in Libya and Mali.
Read the rest – Oliver Stone’s Party Line
by Ron Radosh
Oliver Stone and his co-author Peter Kuznick are not going to be happy this week. After making scores of media appearances in which he heralded the supposedly great reception for his new TV series and accompanying book, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, which airs each week for 10 episodes on the CBS-owned network Showtime, Stone is finally getting the negative response he feared.First, Stone was hit hard by Michael Moynihan at Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Declaring Stone and Kuznick’s film “junk history,” Moynihan called Stone’s work “swivel-eyed, ideological history,” based on “dubious quotes and sources,” a veritable “marvel of historical illiteracy.” Coming on the heels of my own debunking of Stone, “A Story Told Before: Oliver Stone’s Recycled History of the United States,” Stone and Kuznick received two substantive critiques in one week.
Stone, of course, completely ignored my own substantive article, alluding to it without naming me as an example of “a few far-right diatribes” that do not warrant response. Stone bragged that “the majority of reviews and articles have been positive,” until that is – the piece by Moynihan that he had to answer since it appeared in what he considers a mainstream media venue. Since the original author has the last word, Moynihan hit Stone hard in his own answer, that appears after Stone’s response as an update. Moynihan easily further demolishes Stone and Kuznick, concluding after presenting more evidence that their work “is activism masquerading as history.”
This Sunday, however, Stone and Kuznick will be even more upset. The New York Times Magazine features a story by editor Andrew Goldman, “Oliver Stone Rewrites History-Again.” Goldman’s story, which summarizes Stone’s theory behind the TV series and has many vignettes based on his own interview with the director, notes among other things that Stone never really took back his incendiary comment that there is “Jewish domination of the media” and that Israel’s “powerful lobby in Washington” controls U.S. foreign policy. The apology he supposedly made to the Anti-Defamation League was forced on him to avoid cancellation of “Untold History,” and Stone now told Goldman that he should not have used the word “Jewish,” but that Israel has “seeming control over American foreign policy” and that AIPAC has “undue influence.” He accuses them of “militating for the war in Iraq,” completely ignoring that in fact, Israel did not favor the war, considering Iran its major enemy, and that AIPAC in particular never lobbied on its behalf. Each time Stone explains himself, he further puts his foot in his mouth.
When Goldman eventually gets to the new Showtime series, readers learn that Stone’s accolades come mainly when he presents his film to sympathetic viewers from the far left Nation magazine, as in a forum held in New York after the annual New York Film Festival. Referring to the magazine as “the left’s beloved 147 year-old weekly,” Goldman quotes its editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, as saying that Stone’s film “is what we try to do at The Nation,” which if anything, is more of a giveaway about its reliability than she imagines. That she sees the film as challenging “the orthodoxy” and the “conformity of our history” is a statement that should, if anything, be very embarrassing to those who think she has any credibility.
Indeed, Goldman goes on to point out that to Stone and Kuznick, “Stalin…still comes off as heroic, as an honest negotiator who, following F.D.R.’s death, was faced at every turn with Truman’s diplomatic perfidy.” Truman is to Stone and Kuznick, Goldman puts it, the “black hat” while the “white hats” belong to F.D.R., John F. Kennedy and most of all, “the man who inspired the whole project: Henry Wallace.”
What will really irk Stone and Kuznick, however, is that Goldman turns to me as an example of the sharp criticism Stone gets from those who know something about history. He writes the following:
While to his fans Stone’s alternate histories are provocative, his detractors see them as grossly irresponsible cherry-picking. The conservative historian and CUNY emeritus professor Ronald Radosh said he found himself wanting to do harm to his television while watching the first four episodes, which he reviewed for the right-wing Weekly Standard. Radosh had been blogging skeptically about the Stone project since its announcement in 2010, but now that he’d actually seen it, he said, it was the historian rather than the conservative in him who was most offended. “Historians can have different interpretations, but based on evidence,” he said. “What these other guys do is manipulate evidence and ignore evidence that does not fit their predetermined thesis, and that’s why they’re wrong.” According to Radosh, Stone and Kuznick’s take on the United States’ role in the cold war mirrors the argument in “We Can Be Friends,” a book published in 1952 by Carl Marzani, who was convicted of concealing his affiliation to the Communist Party when he joined the O.S.S., the precursor to the C.I.A. “This Stone-Kuznick film could have been put out in 1955 as Soviet propaganda,” Radosh said. “They use all the old stuff.”
There is much I said to Goldman he left out, obviously because of space concerns from his editors at the magazine. I recommended to him in particular two books on the dropping of the A-Bomb that answer in detail the rehashed revisionist view Stone and Kuznick argue as if nothing has appeared to answer them since Gar Alperovitz’s first statement of the “atomic diplomacy” theory in the 1960’s. I told Goldman to consult Wilson D. Miscamble’s new book The Most Controversial Decision:Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan, and Robert James Maddox’s earlier collection, Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism.
If he did, there is no indication of it in the article. Both of these books would present chapter and verse on the kind of real evidence that Stone and Kuznick completely ignore. The evidence shows, for example – contrary to the assertion made in the film series – that dropping of the A-Bombs, as horrible as it was, saved not only thousands of American lives that would have been lost, but more Japanese lives than were lost as a result of the A-bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They also show that contrary to the film’s argument, the Japanese government was not ready to surrender and end the war, until after both bombs were used.
Finally, I must note that as pleased as I am that Goldman went to me to counter Stone, and then to Wilentz, he colored (or his editors did) his account by referring to The Weekly Standard as a “right-wing” publication. One could more accurately refer to it as a conservative magazine. The term used is one of opprobrium, meant obviously by the editors of the Times to undercut the possibility that anyone reading it could learn the truth in its pages. [.........]
Goldman ends his article by referring to Stone and Kuznick’s appearance at a forum at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, where Kuznick again bragged about the “glowing” reviews they were getting and actually said that “nobody’s challenging anything we’re saying.” Stone gestured and said, “Well, it’s early.”
Read the rest - This weekend, Oliver Stone Will Not be a Happy Man; Now The New York Times Takes Him On!