Oliver Stone’s “The Untold History of the United States” is one of those untold histories that are told over and over again by the left. But no matter how often the left retells the same stories, it makes sure to add an “untold” in there, not because their revisionism of history was previously untold, but because the idea that a secret history is being uncovered carries with it a whiff of daring and rebellion that appeals to the students of a college campus looking for fresh answers and reversals of everything that they thought was true while growing up.
There are truly untold histories. The history of Communist terror in the Soviet Union and around the world is one of them. As is the history of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, not by some combination of the Mafia, CIA, Cuban exiles and space aliens, but by a fanatical leftist who had defected to the Soviet Union. And finally there is the untold history of American Communists who fought to overthrow the United States and replace it with a totalitarian state through a campaign of terror, treason and lies. A campaign that they waged with as much fanaticism as Lee Harvey Oswald waged his.
Robert Scheer, a co-founder of the domestic terrorist group, Red Family, is a one-man mausoleum of the shrill viciousness of the left and its radical program for America. Like Bill Ayers, Scheer has gone from anti-American terrorist to anti-American academic, teaching a course on media and society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.
Scheer had acted as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s Nixon and has moderated discussions between Stone and Peter Kuznick, Stone’s collaborator on “The Untold History of the United States.” Scheer, like Stone and Kuznick, believes that Harry Truman was a war criminal, that the United States was the villain of the Cold War and that it is an empire in need of overthrowing. But propaganda isn’t much use unless it influences the next generation and so Scheer is bringing, “The Untold History of the United States” to the 152 USC undergraduates of his class.
The goal of the “The Untold History of the United States,” both book and propaganda series, is to become the new “A People’s History of the United States.” A multimedia project indoctrinating a new generation with the left’s funhouse mirror conspiracy theories of American history. There is a reason why old terrorists become academics. On the college campus there is no historical revisionism of the left so discredited that it cannot find credulous audiences among the young. And there is no one better than Oliver Stone for the job.
Stone’s specialty is turning left-wing propaganda into pop entertainment. From “Platoon” to “Born on the Fourth of July” to “JFK” to “Nixon” to “W,” Oliver Stone has played Andy Warhol to the red soup companies of men like Robert Scheer. And pop entertainment, whether it’s the Obama campaign or Oliver Stone’s Showtime series, is a vital weapon in winning the hearts and minds of a generation that is overeducated but lacks the ability to burst its own intellectual bubble.
Scheer’s own efforts at manufacturing pop propaganda faltered with “The Great American Stickup,” put out by Nation Books, which vanished quickly into the remainders bin without exercising any serious influence on the national dialogue. While leftists like Scheer dredge up the old Marxist cant about the people, they lack any ability to reach them. They need Stone, but at the same time Stone’s proximity discredits them.
Scheer, Stone and Kuznick share an obsession with a slice of history that began with the American alliance with the Soviet Union during World War II, hit a peak during Vietnam and slowly drained away during the Reagan era. Their ability to relate to events after the Cold War in any terms other than the old ideas of an American Empire run by industrialists maintaining a war industry for their own profit is completely lacking. The War on Terror appears to them only as an askew version of Vietnam. And Vietnam to them was only a consequence of the failure to properly appease Stalin and the Soviet Union.
Stalin and the atrocities of the Soviet Union are the sticking points of the American Reds still refighting the Cold War. They have been unable to come to terms with Stalin’s atrocities and the implications of those atrocities for the moral legitimacy of the Soviet Union and for its supporters. Rather than revise their understanding of history, they are still busy trying to revise history instead.
The Soviet Union was not a moral or ethical entity in the treatment of its workers, its people or its neighbors. Instead it was a monstrous political entity run by mass murderers. The only way for the Scheers and Stones to outrun this truth is by smearing the United States with even more blood and dirt. The more we learn about Soviet atrocities, the more “untold histories” of the United States emerge rehashing dated Communist propaganda into a narrative that exists only to distract Americans from the sins of some of the worst mass murderers of the 20th Century and their supporters on the left.
There are few academics sympathetic to Nazi Germany to be found on American campuses today, but there are quite a few who are sympathetic to the Soviet Union. While much of the left would prefer not to talk about Communism, there is an influential group that still thinks they can talk the victims out of the graves and transform the past by lying hard enough about it.
“The Untold History of the United States” is their concept. It will never truly become a pop success, unlike JFK, because the conspiracy theories that it is concerned with are only relevant to that old red left. Trying to justify the Soviet Union after its collapse is a dead end, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of still doing some damage.
Historical revisionism that whitewashes the crimes of the left will not change how most Americans, even how most college students, see the Soviet Union, but it suppresses the true untold history of the atrocities committed in the name of the revolution and the complicity of the left in those atrocities.
History is how we learn from the past and those who most need to learn from the past are those who are likeliest to repeat it. The modern college campus, like its predecessors, boils with frustrated idealism, agitation and utopianism. It is a place where dreams or nightmares can be born. And Scheer, like Stone, is determined that the next generation never learn what it needs to know to avoid repeating their own mistakes.
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