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Why Oliver Stone Will Not Be a Happy Man this Weekend

The New York Times obliterates the filmmaker's recycled Marxist version of history.

by
Ron Radosh

Bio

November 23, 2012 - 3:51 pm

Indeed, Goldman goes on to point out that to Stone and Kuznick, “Stalin…still comes off as heroic, as an honest negotiator who, following FDR’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 FDR, John F. Kennedy, and, most of all, “the man who inspired the whole project: Henry Wallace.”

Readers of my own article will find the real truth about Wallace, who, as I argue, was the very epitome of a communist dupe, a man who, if he had become president, would have enabled Stalin to fulfill his plans for takeover of Eastern Europe and perhaps even the Stalinization of the entire European continent.

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.”

Moreover, Goldman took my suggestion that Stone’s distortions of history were something that bona fide liberal historians who respect historical truth understand, and that he get in touch with Princeton University’s distinguished historian, Sean Wilentz. Wilentz had e-mailed me that Stone’s book was “misinformation” and that anyone with a respect for history knew it was trash. When Goldman spoke to Wilentz, he stuck to his guns. Goldman writes:

Radosh, who grew up as a Red Diaper baby in Washington Heights and only later turned to the right, thinks of himself as intimately familiar with the “old stuff.” But fearing he might be dismissed as partisan, he insisted I reach out to Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian who, owing to his strident defense of Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings and to his 2006 Rolling Stone cover article on George W. Bush, “The Worst President in History?” is regarded as decidedly left-leaning. When I spoke to him, Wilentz said: “You can’t get two historians more unlike each other than me and Ronnie Radosh. But we can agree about this. It’s ridiculous.” Wilentz was in the middle of writing a review of Stone’s book. “Always beware of books that describe themselves as the untold history of anything, because it’s usually been told before,” he said. “It sets up this thing that there is some sort of mysterious force suppressing the true facts, right? Glenn Beck does this all the time. It’s the same thing here, except this is basically a very standard left-wing, C.P., fellow traveler, Wallace-ite vision of what happened in 1945-46.” It’s not, Wilentz continued, that the questions raised aren’t worth raising. “Is there a legitimate argument to be made about the origins of our nuclear diplomacy or the decision to build the H-bomb?” he said. “Of course there is. But it’s so overloaded with ideological distortion that this question doesn’t get raised in an intelligent way. And once a question gets raised in an unintelligent way, then you are off in cloud-cuckoo land.”

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