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The Death of Oliver Stone’s Good Soviet Union
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On January 29, 2013 @ 12:50 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 22 Comments
Editor’s note: The following is the eighth installment of a series of articles Frontpage is running in response to Oliver Stone’s neo-Communist documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States.” Frontpage will be reviewing each episode of the Stone series, exposing the leftist hateful lies about America and setting the record straight. Below is a review of Part 8 of the series.
In episode 8 of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United State, Stone says:
“Right wing forces have always operated freely and openly in the dark chasms of American life where racism, militarism, imperialism and blind devotion to private enterprise festered.”
Accompanying this is footage from Birth of a Nation. A film that Thomas Dixon Jr., author of “The Clansman”, the book that it was based on, screened for President Woodrow Wilson with the intention that it “would transform every man in the audience into a good Democrat!” Following that is footage of American soldiers marching off to WWI under a Democratic president. The choice of footage once again reminds us that Oliver Stone’s knowledge of history is as scrambled as his brain.
Over this confused juxtaposition of history, the narration goes on to inform us that the same forces that spawned the Nazi Party and the McCarthyites, a group that included Robert F. Kennedy, also created the Tea Party. It’s a reminder that the difference between Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States” and a YouTube conspiracy video about the Freemasons is that the latter doesn’t have a slot on Showtime. Yet.
Topping all that, the soporific narration, borrowed from a PBS special, which just classed together Adolf Hitler, RFK, Woodrow Wilson and Michele Bachmann, goes on to accuse these “dark forces” of being ignorant of history. And we’re less than 3 minutes into the madness that is Episode 8 of the worst thing that Showtime has ever aired. And that includes Piranha and Scream 4.
Episode 8, “Reagan, Gorbachev & the Third World: Revival of Fortune,” begins by reimagining Nixon as a progressive who established the EPA, supported the ERA and strengthened the Voting Rights Act. The logic of this might make more sense if the Nixon Administration hadn’t just been described as being on a mission to move America far to the right.
But consistency doesn’t matter to Oliver Stone. Within 40 seconds, Nixon goes from an ally of the KKK to a civil rights leader, just to set up the omnipresent claim that the next Republican president was the one to really move the Republican Party to the right. This is the reality-free narrative that the left constantly embraces, but it has never been quite as reality-free as it is in the hands of America’s leading reality-free filmmaker.
6 minutes in and the vast right-wing conspiracy is on the table. “Nixon’s rage had become their own,” the narrator whispers. This rage was apparently expressed by creating think-tanks like Heritage and AEI promoting deregulation and privatization; probably the least angry example of rage in the entire history of anger.
“The moneyed class,” the narrator hisses, like a low-rent Marxist, “were back.” They had apparently gone off to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and hobnob with the Kennedys, but now they were back and angrily creating think-tanks.
Carter ushers in a brief period of idealistic utopia, complete with appeasement of the USSR, but then the camera zooms to Zbigniew Brzezinski. Ominous music plays. The Trilateral Commission logo appears on the screen while the narrator informs us about its conspiracies on behalf of the “World Capitalist Order.” And we’re back in YouTube territory.
Like most conspiracy theorists, Stone is sloppy. He spends a minute on the Trilateral Commission and then pretends that the American Embassy was seized because the Shah had been admitted to the US for medical treatment. It’s silly, but that’s what history as a Neo-Communist conspiracy cartoon looks like.
Every Anti-American country and group, whether it’s the USSR invading Afghanistan or the Iranians taking American hostages, is depicted as careful and forbearing. On the other side of the ocean however, Uncle Sam stomps around in cowboy boots guzzling the blood of the oppressed like cheap whiskey.
The Soviet Union wanted peace and therefore had no choice but to invade Afghanistan. While the United States undermined the Soviet Union and backed Islamic militants, which led, we are told, to September 11.
“The Untold History of the United States” is full of such overreaching generalizations, but short on historical detail. No distinction is made between the Arab fighters and the Afghan fighters that the United States was supporting. No mention is made of the fact that the Soviet Union ruthlessly and brutally murdered its own puppet in a senseless assault. Basic pieces of information like that have no place in Oliver Stone’s expensive Showtime YouTube video.
Episode 8 depicts Reagan as an ignorant buffoon. Carter’s evil anti-Communist puppet master was Brzezinski. Reagan’s evil puppet master turns out to be William Casey, a man so awful that the narrator informs us, while serial killer music plays, that he had multiple statues of the Virgin Mary in his Long Island mansion.
Casey believed that the USSR was involved in international terrorism; the narrator however gravely informs us that the Soviets actually disapproved of international terrorism. Such a claim barely had any justification being made in the 80s. After the fall of the USSR, when there are volumes of documents listing the amounts of money and types of training that the KGB provided to terrorist groups, it’s just a naked lie.
The Sandinistas are heroes and the Contras are villains, along with every leftist gang in Latin America. To prove his point, Stone rolls footage from his own movie, Salvador, as we’re treated to James Woods emoting in a fictional movie that Stone seems unable to distinguish from the real thing.
And that’s just the beginning of the confusion. Hezbollah bombs the Marine barracks, and with no explanation for why the Marines were in Lebanon, the episode insists that Reagan then dispatched troops to Grenada to restore America’s wounded pride. That’s stupid even by leftist standards.
In Grenada, the narration informs us, using footage from Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge, 19 soldiers were killed fighting “poorly armed Cuban construction workers.” Elsewhere Reagan oppresses poor air traffic controllers while throwing lavish parties, illustrated by footage from Heaven’s Gate, a movie about the 1890s. Most YouTube conspiracy videos are more plausible and have better narrative logic.
Still Stone must sooner or later explain the collapse of the Soviet Union. And he does this by painting Mikhail Gorbachev as the true hero, another Henry Wallace, who genuinely wanted peace and disarmament. Missile defense, we are told was a pipe dream, on a television show filmed in the age of Iron Dome. The USSR knew that SDI could never work, we are told, yet for some reason refused to make peace unless Reagan gave it up.
Gorbachev becomes the courageous visionary leader, while Reagan is just another puppet of the imperialistic American empire.
None of this is history. It’s barely even a conspiracy theory. It’s long, yet short on details, broken up into scrambled bits and illustrated with movie scenes to add even more unreality. None of it hangs together. All of it depends on accepting Stone’s premise that America is run by an evil conspiracy, but the rest of the world isn’t. If you accept that, then the story makes sense. If you question it, then it all falls apart.
The Untold History of the United States doesn’t depend on merely assuming moral equivalency between the US and the USSR, but the moral superiority of the USSR. That assumption is never backed up with facts. It’s innate in the story that we are told. It is a bias so baked in that Stone is incapable of recognizing his own logical flaws or the clumsiness of his storytelling. You either agree with him that the USSR was morally superior to the United States. Or you are a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.
Related articles on Stone’s series:
1. Bruce Thornton’s introduction to this Frontpage series.
2. David Horowitz’s analysis of the meaning behind the warm reception of Stone’s Kremlin propaganda.
3. Matthew Vadum’s review of Stone’s first episode.
4. Daniel Flynn’s review of “Roosevelt, Truman and Wallace,” the second episode.
5. Daniel Greenfield’s review of “The Bomb,” the third episode.
6. Bruce Thornton’s review of “The Cold War: 1945-1950,” the 4th episode.
7. Matthew Vadum’s review of “The 50s: Eisenhower, The Bomb & The Third World,” the 5th episode.
8. Larry Schweikart’s review of “The Cuban Missile Crisis,” the 6th episode.
9. Larry Schweikart’s review of “Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune,” the 7th episode.
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