How the Left Distorts History to Inspire New Generations of Activists

The American Left has been expert in indoctrinating a new generation with false history. We have seen this with Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s Showtime TV series on the Cold War, and especially with the writings and pseudo-history of the late Howard Zinn. While conservatives -- with some laudable exceptions -- concentrate largely on policy issues, the left knows that it is not sufficient to work only for its own political agenda. The left realizes it needs to capture the realm of culture, which includes the portrayal of the American past.

The left believes that if the American past is to be accurately understood, its citizens must be educated to understand that their country was always the real oppressor of both its own citizens and the world community. Then, the evil of virtually all administrations will be seen not as an aberration, but as the result one should expect.

In order to understand this, it is necessary for the left to create myths. It does not matter if they have already been challenged and accurately discredited. They merely repeat them as fact.

In the past two weeks, a few examples have surfaced that illustrate how this is done.

1. How American Communists see the Haymarket bombings

The first example concerns what took place as part of the convention of the American Communist Party recently held in Chicago. As reported in the Chicago Tribune by reporter Ron Grossman, a man named Tim Yeager took the comrades on a history tour of Chicago. Yeager is described as juggling three jobs -- “United Auto Workers union organizer, Communist official, and Episcopal priest” (consider for yourselves what that reveals). The article tells us what Yeager presented to  his CP group on a tour of labor-related sites in Chicago:

Friday morning, Yeager led a bus tour of some party history. The first stop was at the Haymarket statue on Desplaines Street just north of Randolph Street, where in 1886 a bomb thrown during a labor rally killed seven police officers and at least one civilian.

Known radicals, some not even present at the rally, were rounded up, speedily convicted and hanged. Several were buried at Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, making it a pilgrimage site for labor activists and the second stop on Friday's tour. The Haymarket affair made Chicago the natural site for the Communist Party's founding convention in 1919.

Yeager noted that the Chicago establishment leaders who called for swift punishment of the Haymarket martyrs were "the 1 percenters of that day" -- the favored few who enjoyed immense riches while the majority toiled for crumbs.

In the CP’s version of events, the radicals at Haymarket were framed for what was clearly a police provocation, an excuse to arrest and condemn the radicals for their protest of bad working conditions. As John J. Miller explained last year in National Review, labor historian Timothy Messer-Kruse has written a book that demolishes the myth and tells the truth: the trial was not a travesty of justice, as the left has always argued, but a real anarchist conspiracy meant to create an insurrection starting with attacks on the police.

The prosecution proved its case, and was able through solid evidence to show that the anarchists were responsible for the throwing of the bomb that led to the death of the police officers. It was not “one of the great miscarriages of justice,” as one mainstream textbook tells its readers.

Messer-Kruse is an honest historian who personally is a social-democrat. “I drunk the Kook-Aid,” he told Miller, but he now puts accurate history in front of ideology. It is more than likely, he says,  that the seven dead policemen were not killed by the bomb, but shot in cold blood by the anarchists present at the rally. It was, as I put it in my own PJM column, the destruction of “another historical myth.”

The people Comrade Tim Yeager took on his tour, or the many thousands who read Howard Zinn’s falsehoods, believe the frame-up myth. And if they come across anyone who disputes it, they respond by attacking the person as a turncoat and a traitor, and by repeating the myth to their own students, over and over. The myth cannot be allowed to be exposed, or the result will be a possible rethinking of everything they have learned from the falsifiers of history