I Thought Howard Zinn was Bad Enough. Now We Have to Learn Our History from Oliver Stone

Polls show that most high school students are completely unaware of American history. They confuse the Civil War with World War II; FDR with the Founding Fathers, etc. They don’t have to worry about our nation being condemned to relive the past, since they don’t understand we have one.

It’s bad enough that they get their politically correct history from Howard Zinn, about whom I recently blogged. But now, we have learned that Americans will be getting their history from a new series directed by none other than Oliver Stone, the conspiracy monger film director.  Stone is already most well-known for his film JFK, in which those who saw it learned that discredited New Orleans DA Jim Garrison had uncovered the conspiracy to kill Kennedy orchestrated by the CIA and the mob, and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was part of the plot.

If JFK was, as one critic put it, “an insult to the intelligence,” Stone’s new  Secret History of America, to be aired in a 10-part series on cable-TV’s Showtime channel, promises to be a virtual assault. Stone says he will concentrate on supposedly “under-reported” events, such as President Harry S. Truman’s decision to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima. Underreported? I guess that means Stone never saw the late Peter Jennings’ major ABC TV report that was based on Gar Alperovitz’s deeply flawed old book, in which Alperovitz argued that the reason the bomb was dropped was not to defeat Japan, but to threaten the Soviets. Nor has he evidently read many of the  scores of books that have appeared about this decision over the years, or the debates on the controversy, including one in which I took part.

Stone, however, says he is doing this because it is “the deepest contribution I could ever make in film to my children and the next generation.” I can’t stop Stone from trying to teach made-up history to his own offspring, but I can try to warn viewers in advance from giving him any credibility.

Stone, of course, is the filmmaker who in the past few years has given his documentary eye to making  hosannas to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and now, evidently, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Those who wonder if his high regard for totalitarian dictators will have any effect on his new series should have no fears. As was recently announced, Stone hopes to “to put mass murderers such as Stalin and Hitler ‘in context.’” Or as Stone himself puts it: “Stalin, Hitler, Mao, McCarthy -- these people have been vilified pretty thoroughly by history.”  Always the skeptical contrarian, Stone evidently believes that if the majority of historians see them in any but a favorable light, it is time to reevaluate them.