“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Arab Proverb
As regular readers know, the purpose of the “Columns” section of this website is to expose the leftwing bias prevalent among history department faculties on most American universities, and in the textbooks most of them require their students to read. In reading and re-reading the most widely-used freshman history textbooks, I see certain patterns emerge. One pattern that stands out like a sore thumb in these textbooks is the very harsh treatment given to anyone who ever fought vigorously against Communism.
This pattern of demonization extends not just to domestic political figures like Joseph McCarthy, but to anti-communist military and political leaders in foreign countries, to law enforcement officials who prosecuted Soviet spies, and even to our nation’s own troops when they fought against Communist forces on the battlefield.
Playing Favorites in Asia
“The winds of reform also blew through Asia. Some Asian leaders, like Mao Zedong in China and Ho Chi Minh in Indochina, saw Communism as the means to liberate their peoples from imperialist rule.” As this quote from the textbook Nation of Nations illustrates, the professors who write most of our history textbooks can’t be accused of overly harsh treatment of Communist leaders. Men like Mao didn’t fight to grab totalitarian power for selfish reasons, according to these textbooks; they came blowing in on the “winds of reform.”
I have seven of the most widely used freshman history textbooks1 on my desk at the moment, and not one says a negative word about Mao Zedong or Ho Chi Minh.
The harsh words are reserved for Chiang Kai-Shek, who fought Mao for control of China, and for the South Vietnamese leaders who tried to fight off Ho Chi Minh’s invasion of their country.
Mao Zedong is the greatest mass murderer in history, but very few young Americans will ever hear this in a history classroom. Students in most history courses are taught that Mao’s anti-Communist rival was the evil one. Chiang, the text books tell us, was a “reactionary,” and the leader of a “corrupt one-party dictatorship.”
American Troops as Villains
Chiang Kai-Shek and his men are not the only soldiers demonized for taking to the battlefield to fight Communist forces. Our own Vietnam era soldiers get similar treatment in mainstream history books. American GI’s are disparaged as thugs, and the officers who led them as lunatics and liars.
History texts even misrepresent America’s decision to support South Vietnam against a Communist takeover as some sort of treaty violation, when in fact all America was trying to do in Vietnam is protect South Vietnam’s right of self-determination.
Anti-Communist “Crimes” in the Western Hemisphere
Political and military leaders who fought against Soviet-armed Communist troops in the western hemisphere get the same rough treatment from American history professors. The civil war that allowed Fidel Castro to take over Cuba, for example, is portrayed in most textbooks as a fight for freedom and justice, not as a fight between one totalitarian thug and another.
Fulgencio Batista, the ruler Castro overthrew, is described in one textbook as “one of the most noxious of the Latin American dictators,”2. Another text depicts as proven fact a highly apocryphal quote attributed to President Roosevelt, describing Batista as a “son of a bitch.”34
The American soldiers who liberated the Caribbean nation of Grenada from a pro-Communist regime in 1983 get about the same treatment as Vietnam era GI’s. Only one of the seven history books I surveyed even mentions that hundreds of Cuban military “advisers” were constructing a Soviet airbase in Grenada when the US invasion brought their activities to a halt.
Most textbooks frame the Grenada invasion as American imperialism, or as motivated simply by President Ronald Reagan’s crony relationship with American business interests. Howard Zinn’s absurdly biased textbook, for example, tells us that “The connection between US military intervention and the promotion of capitalist enterprise has always been especially crass in the Caribbean.”
Anti-Communist “Villains” in the US
Ivory tower liberals reserve some of their harshest criticisms for anti-Communist American leaders like President Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, and, of course, Senator McCarthy.
In 1983 President Reagan angered the Soviets, and their supporters in the US, by establishing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a program to engineer a purely defensive anti-missile system that would protect America from nuclear attack. The Soviets, for obvious reasons, didn’t want to lose their ability to threaten the American people with nuclear annihilation. The anti-anti-Communists in this country reflexively opposed the program because the Kremlin opposed it.
Left-leaning historians of the modern day continue to disparage the SDI program in more or less the same terms they used back in ’83. Professor Eric Foner’s widely used textbook, for example, says “The idea was not remotely feasible technologically, and, if deployed, it would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.”
Dr. Foner is less than honest when he says an American program to defend us from ballistic missiles is not feasible. As President Reagan well knew, America is the place where technology races forward.
Today America is protected by that missile shield that Reagan envisioned in the 1980’s. It is continually being upgraded, and has even been offered to other countries. Doctrinaire leftists like Dr. Foner are counting on the ignorance of their students when they “teach” that a missile defense system is “not remotely feasible.”
Worse than Murder?
Mainstream historians show more sympathy for Soviet agents who lost their jobs in the US government after being exposed, than for the millions of innocent people who lost their lives at the hands their own governments in Communist countries like the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia. And if other anti-Communist figures are demonized in history books, Senator Joseph McCarthy is Satan-ized. In their hostility to all things anti-Communist, college professors and other leftists have made McCarthy their Public Enemy Number One.
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Textbook authors go to extremes in making McCarthy’s counter-espionage efforts look like some sort of crime against Humanity. One book claims that “the vast majority of those jailed or deprived of their livelihoods during the McCarthy era were guilty of nothing more than holding unpopular beliefs and engaging in lawful political activities.”5 Another says “McCarthy was totally unscrupulous. The ‘big lie’ was his most effective weapon.”6Another characterizes him as “crude, sly, and ambitious.”7 Another describes McCarthy’s efforts as a “rampage” and claims that he “never substantiated his charges.”9
None of this is true, except perhaps for the “crude” and “ambitious” parts.
McCarthy actually did expose a shockingly high number of Soviet agents in the US Government. He is the focus of anti-anti-Communist wrath precisely because he did expose Soviet agents in the government (and, to some extent, because his personal flaws made him easier to demonize than other anti-Communist leaders). Leftists hate him not because of any false accusations he may have inadvertently made, but for the accurate accusations he so often made.
There is room for debate as to whether anti-anti-Communism is the same thing as pro-Communism. While some history textbook authors, like Professor Howard Zinn , have proven Communist sympathies, others might simply be reflexively opposing anything that conservatives support. But even if anti-anti-Communists don’t intend to be subversive, they certainly do misrepresent history to the students they are paid to teach.
1Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff; Nation of Nations; Rorabaugh, Critchlow, & Baker; America’s Promise; Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty; Boydston, Cullather, Lewis, McGerr, & Oakes; Making a Nation; Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States; Carnes and Garraty, American Destiny; Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir; American Journey.
2American Destiny, p. 805
3>Give Me Liberty, p. 739
4em>Making a Nation p. 678
5Give Me Liberty, p. 803
6American Destiny p. 796
7American Journey, p. 866
8Nation of Nations, p. 822
9ibid., p. 815