OLIVER STONE’S “JUNK HISTORY”

Ron Radosh on his webpage on November 23, 2012, reported on Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s TV series and accompanying book, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, which airs each week for 10 episodes on the CBS-owned network Showtime. Excerpts below:

First, Stone was hit hard by Michael Moynihan at Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Declaring Stone and Kuznick’s film “junk history,” Moynihan called Stone’s work “swivel-eyed, ideological history,” based on “dubious quotes and sources,” a veritable “marvel of historical illiteracy.” Coming on the heels of my own debunking of Stone, “A Story Told Before: Oliver Stone’s Recycled History of the United States,” Stone and Kuznick received two substantive critiques in one week.

Stone and Kuznick… [was] even more upset. The New York Times Magazine featured a story by editor Andrew Goldman, “Oliver Stone Rewrites History-Again.”

Goldman’s story, which summarizes Stone’s theory behind the TV series and has many vignettes based on his own interview with the director, notes among other things that Stone never really took back his incendiary comment that there is “Jewish domination of the media” and that Israel’s “powerful lobby in Washington” controls U.S. foreign policy. The apology he supposedly made to the Anti-Defamation League was forced on him to avoid cancellation of “Untold History,” and Stone now told Goldman that he should not have used the word “Jewish,” but that Israel has “seeming control over American foreign policy” and that AIPAC has “undue influence.” He accuses them of “militating for the war in Iraq,” completely ignoring that in fact, Israel did not favor the war, considering Iran its major enemy, and that AIPAC in particular never lobbied on its behalf. Each time Stone explains himself, he further puts his foot in his mouth.

…Goldman goes on to point out: “Stalin…still comes off as heroic, as an honest negotiator who, following F.D.R.’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 F.D.R., John F. Kennedy and most of all, “the man who inspired the whole project: Henry Wallace.” (Comment: a suspected Soviet agent)

Wallace…was the very epitome of a Communist dupe, a man whom if he had become president, would have enabled Stalin to fulfill his plans for takeover of more than Eastern Europe, and perhaps even succeeded in the Stalinization of the entire European continent.

[Goldman continued]:

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 …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.

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