In our last commentary we cited serious flaws in The Cold War, Ted Turner?s most recent venture in producing and airing on CNN history lessons. This ambitious series of 27 hours about the Cold War has been severely criticized by conservative scholars such as Dr. Arnold Beichman of the Hoover Institution. According to Beichman, an octogenarian veteran of the fight against communism, Turner?s series reeks of moral equivalence. That is the mind set that was common to leftists during the Cold War. It was typified by Ted Turner?s equating the takeover of Russia and Cuba by Communists who saddled those countries with totalitarian dictatorships with the American Revolution.
One of the great lessons that any history of the Cold War should teach is that those who insisted that V. I. Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh were the equivalents of George Washington were dead wrong. They were at the opposite pole from America?s founding fathers. They were cruel despots, who were determined to cling to power as long as they lived. They pretended to be on the side of the people, but they were actually their oppressors. They survived by lies, deceit, terror and tyranny, while Washington and the other founding fathers gave America a constitution that promoted freedom, the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
The question is, can Ted Turner and the British producers and writers he has hired to produce The Cold War series be trusted to teach this important lesson. From what we have seen so far, the answer is a resounding no. Turner himself was a leading exponent of moral equivalence for many years. Some of those who are working on his Cold War history have a reputation of being strongly anti-American.
This was all too evident in the program on Cuba that was aired on November 29. The facts it presented were all wrong about how Castro achieved control of Cuba, what his ideology was, what his goals were, why relations with the U.S. deteriorated to the point where President Kennedy launched an invasion to overthrow him. Nothing was said about the mistaken judgments made by Castro?s American supporters who believed he was going to bring a better life to the people of Cuba. Instead, he brought them misery, death and exile.
We are told that a program on Latin America that is to be aired next February is even worse, perpetuating the false myths common during the Cold War instead of exposing how false they were. The program on the Berlin Wall is better, showing how the East Germans fled from the Communist-imposed misery and oppression. But it did not expose the Western apologists who defended the Communist regime.
CNN follows each program in this series with a discussion by journalists and scholars. But they are not allowed to criticize the program. Why? Turner plans to sell his series to schools for use in teaching students. Letting critics expose its flaws on CNN would hinder this plan to let him teach our kids the history of the 20th Century. Keep your eye on this project and keep Turner out of the classroom.