As I promised, during the next few days, I will be rerunningome of my favorite posts of 2010. While many news outlets had run stories of textbooks that skew history, this was not a news story, this was my own son’s text book, I was confronted by this fake version of history myself.
I spent much time during the past few weeks helping my son study for the state-wide World History test he took a few days ago. Working with him through his studies, I learned his class presented a brand new version of history, a version that never occurred. Some can argue different versions/interpretations of events that happened centuries ago, but his text book and curriculum distorted events I saw with my own eyes.
The text-book in question is called World History Patterns of Interaction, and is published by McDougal Littell. Particularly upsetting was the section of the book covering the period from the end of WWII through the 1980s. It sets up the Cold War period with the mistaken politically correct explanation that both sides were aggressors. On page 983 it says:
Both sides believed that they needed to stop the other side from extending its power.” What it should have said was that the Cold War was a battle between the Soviet side wanting to expand its communist philosophy across the world, and the west trying to prevent the takeover.
The book also whitewashes the tyranny of Castro’s communist Cuba. Page 985 says “Soviet aid to Cuba ended abruptly with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. This dealt a crippling blow to the Cuban economy.” There was no mention of the brutality of the Cuban regime; the fact that all opposition newspapers had been closed down, all radio and television stations were in state control, or that moderates, teachers and professors were purged. Nor was there any mention of the torture and inhumane treatment in Cuban prisons that is still happening today.
Perhaps the biggest rewriting of history was the discussion regarding the end of the Cold War. It talks about Nixon and detente, then boom on page 991:
… fiercely anti-Communist U.S. president, Ronald Reagan took office in 1991. He continued to move away from detente. He increased defense spending, putting both economic and military pressure on the Soviets.
And how does the book explain the result of Reagan’s policies? “Tensions increased.” That’s it!
According to the text book, an increase in tensions was the only result of that “evil” Reagan’s policies. But never fear because, there arose a leader in the USSR who knew not the cold war. Later on page 991, the book explains “.a change in soviet leadership in 1985 brought a new policy toward the United States and the beginnings of a final thaw in the cold war.” Wow, look at that… out of the blue the USSR woke up one day and decided to play nice.
That explanation doesn’t mesh with history (or my eyes). The peace-through-strength strategy executed by the Reagan Administration drove the Soviet economy into the sewer. I saw Reagan announce, what may very well be the greatest bluff in the history of man, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). This initiative posed a technological challenge to the Soviet Union and the communist regime spent tons of cash trying to catch up technologically. The part we never told the Soviet Union (until President Obama blurted it out a few months ago) is the technology posed a challenge to us also. The communists thought we were holding a royal flush, but all we really had was a pair of threes; being chess players, instead of poker players, they resigned.
The prospect of Star Wars Technology scared the pants off the USSR, and so did the fact that they thought that Reagan was crazy enough to use it. Crazy like a fox he was. Reagan’s willingness to apply significant rhetorical and other pressures against the Soviet Union, or as he called it, the “evil empire,” made the Soviets pour even more money that it didn’t have into weapons technology (why does that sound familiar?)
At a session of the Russian Politburo in October 1986 Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev tried to sell a groundbreaking disarmament plan including a 50 percent reduction in nuclear arsenals. If he didn’t propose these cuts, Gorbachev told his colleagues, the USSR’s weak economy could not keep up with Reagan’s military expansion.
We will be pulled into an arms race that is beyond our capabilities, and we will lose it because we are at the limit of our capabilities. … If the new round [of an arms race] begins, the pressures on our economy will be unbelievable.
This military and economic pressure from Reagan was on top of the political pressure applied by a Pope born in a Soviet satellite country, Poland. John Paul II provided a moral focus with his constant anti-communist sermons. The Pope’s visit to the very Catholic country of his birth Poland in 1979 stimulated a religious and nationalist resurgence centered on the Solidarity Union movement that galvanized opposition.
Reagan imposed economic sanctions on Poland to protest the suppression of Solidarity. In response, Mikhail Suslov, the Kremlin’s top ideologist, advised Soviet leaders not to intervene if Poland fell under the control of Solidarity for fear it might lead to heavy economic sanctions by the west. These potential sanctions could result in further catastrophe for the Soviet economy. That “non-intervention” of the USSR, because Reagan’s threats had bled them dry, was the beginning of the slippery slope leading to the easing of the communist oppression, and the fall the Soviet Union.
It is said that history is written by the victors, and in the past this may have been true. But in the case of Cold War history, it has been rewritten by the progressives who want to indoctrinate our children to their inaccurate version of facts many of us saw with our own eyes.