Wednesday, May 30, 2012

They are still at it

Mona Charen has an article on National Review Online about her 16 year old son's AP World History textbook, which she has finally looked at in some detail. I feel her pain.
In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union — with all of the copious records that have been exhumed from the Soviet archives and other sources — one might have thought that the sheer human catastrophe caused by Communism ought no longer to be in question among serious people, far less eminent historians. (Actually, there has been no doubt since the 1930s, but the evidence has become even more voluminous since 1989.) Yet throughout this 900-plus-page tome, the brutal body count of Communism’s victims is given only glancing notice. Like Soviet apologists during the Cold War era, the authors provide generous interpretations of Communist dictators’ motives, along with dry, forgettable descriptions of their atrocities.
World Civilizations tells some of our most advanced tenth-graders that Josef Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture “had serious flaws.” That’s one way of describing a deliberate policy of starving the peasantry into submission. In Harvest of Sorrow, Robert Conquest estimated that the “terror famine” of 1932–33 caused the deaths of at least 5 million Ukrainians, and that Stalin’s agriculture collectivization, which included the war on “kulaks” (slightly more prosperous peasants), took the lives of 14.5 million people in all.
You won’t find those deaths mentioned in World Civilizations. No, the text instructs students that “after the messy transition period” had ended, “the collective farms did . . . allow normally adequate if minimal food supplies . . . and they did free excess workers to be channeled into the ranks of urban labor.”
Later, World Civilizations mentions that Stalin’s totalitarian regime resulted in one of the “great bloodbaths of the 20th century.” But the very next sentence misleads the reader completely. “During the great purge of party leaders that culminated in 1937–38, hundreds of people were intimidated into confessing imaginary crimes against the state and most of them were put to death. Many thousands more were sent to Siberian labor camps.”
They are STILL doing it: brainwashing children by lying about the full horror of Communism. She has other examples. It is not a pretty story.


  1. I nearly had a fit when I read through my son's social studies book. (They won't even refer to it as "History" anymore, because that makes it sound too factual.) Thirteen pages about the tzar's oppressiveness and the other supposed justifications for communism; four about the brutality, starvation, mass murder and pogroms that followed. Thank goodness we discuss such things at the dinner table, or my son would grow up to be a liberal weenie like the books' authors.

  2. Every so often, I return to this topic in the correspondence pages of our local paper. In some people's eyes Stalin and Co were simply idealists who got a bit over enthusiastic and the clincher is that, unlike the Nazis, they were "not racists". Total balderdash but a received opinion, arrived at without any attempt at knowledge or active thought.

    The foundations for this attitude were laid not just by communist apologists and Marxist historians but by the actions of our own British authorities. It started with the wartime alliance with the Soviets, of course. But the Foreign Office was still taking a pro-Soviet line on the Katyn massacres in the 1970s. I recently looked up the shoddy little episode where the FO successfully leaned on the Church of England authorities to deny the Polish community a Katyn memorial in London on Church property.

    Of course, there have been "fellow travellers" in the Anglican clergy since the days of Hewlett Johnson, the Red Dean of Canterbury - but the clerical readiness to appease the Soviets on instructions from the FO was pretty disgusting.

  3. But then National Review is as guilty as anyone else of promoting left-wing historical myths e.g. that Germany was solely to blame for two world wars, that Jews played no special role in Bolshevism or that MLK was a conservative theologian.

  4. About Katyn, Edward: the Foreign Office was still muttering about things being unclear and it might have been the Germans as late as 1992 when the Russians released a huge file of documents on the subject and acknowledged what had happened. Stalin himself had given the order. Yet the FCO was still prevaricating.