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November 17, 2012

Column: Oliver Stone whitewashes Stalin's brutality

In the 1930s, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Nazi ideology. In their eyes, Hitler was simply restoring Germany’s wounded pride and rebuilding an economy battered by World War I and the harsh treaty that ended the conflict. Surely, Hitler and the German people preferred compromise to conflict, peace to war. This view turned out to be wrong, of course, and tens of millions of people were massacred as a result.

In the wake of World War II, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Communist ideology. In their eyes, Marxist/Leninist societies were emancipating workers from capitalism. This view turned out to be wrong as well, and in lands as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Cambodia tens of millions of people were massacred as a result. Today, of course, we see the world more clearly, don’t we? Well, some do, some don’t.

Ronald Radosh was born in 1937 in New York City and raised in a Communist household. In his youth, he planned to become a leader of the American Communist movement. But he became a historian — one of those relatively rare historians who actually studies the past and learns from it, rather than attempting to shape it retrospectively to fit his ideological preconceptions.

Anything Radosh writes is worth reading. Most recently he has written a critique in The Weekly Standard of “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States,” which premiered this week on Showtime, a cable network owned by CBS. Radosh makes clear that this series, in fact, reveals no “untold history” — it merely reheats and rehashes the party line pushed by the Soviets and their fellow travelers during the Cold War, a line that Stone swallowed long ago and has since been regurgitating.

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