By Larry Schweikart
When my book 48 Liberal Lies About American History came out in 2008, I began giving talks on the book everywhere. The most common question I received was “How did you stop at 48?” So, when Glenn asked me to limit the Left’s lies to a select few, it was doubly difficult. After combining some of the falsehoods I detail in my book, I was able to come up with my list of the worst Liberal Lies. So without further ado...
The worst liberal lie about American history, bar none, is that Mikhail Gorbachev, not Ronald Reagan, was responsible for ending the Cold War. I found this fabrication in almost every single one of the 20-plus history textbooks that I examined for my book. Indeed, the assertion is so commonplace that I use the term “pregnancy test of textbooks” to refer to the Reagan section in the index. Just turn to the sections on Reagan and if the book does not get that section correct, it won’t get anything right.
For example, James West Davidson, in his Nation of Nations, wrote “Gorbachev’s reform policies led not only to the collapse of the Soviet empire but also to the breakup of the Soviet Union itself.” George Brown Tindall and David Shi in America: A Narrative History insisted “Gorbachev also backed off Soviet imperial ambitions.”
Now, I’ve been at college frat parties and in Hollywood bars where there was a sounder grasp on reality than here. “…[Backed] off Soviet imperial ambitions?” Was that before or after Gorby continued the Red Army’s occupation of Afghanistan? Or did the authors just miss the pig-headed refusal to remove the SS-20 missiles until Reagan forced Gorbachev’s hand by deploying our own short-range nukes?
In reality, Reagan—against the overwhelming opposition of his advisers and against some CIA analysis—decided the Soviet economy was a “basket case” and asked “[wouldn’t] we be doing more for their people if we let their system fail…?” Indeed, not only did Reagan “let” it fail, he shoved the decrepit economy into the ditch, cutting off sales of computers and high-tech equipment, stalling the funding of the Trans-Siberian Pipeline and otherwise exposing Communism’s weaknesses. When he was finished, the Berlin Wall came down and Gorbachev deserved no credit for the march of freedom that followed.
Business Failures Caused the Great Depression and FDR’s New Deal Saved America
To their credit, in recent years, the textbooks have softened their position on this to merely imply that business failures caused the Great Depression; whereas, just 20 years ago it was stated as a fact. But the heroic Roosevelt, riding in his limo, brandishing his cigarette holder against the dark lord of unemployment, still gets nearly unanimous positive treatment.
Virtually all the textbooks I reviewed somehow blame the tax cuts of the 1920s for the “speculation” in the stock market (false), and claim that a lack of regulation caused banks to funnel money into the stock market (also false). Increasingly, economists (but not historians) have identified Federal Reserve contractionist policies and the passage of the largest tax in American history, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, as the culprits to the failing banks.
As for FDR? His National Industrial Recovery Administration policies, particularly the minimum wage components, tracked inversely with business confidence. Put another way, once FDR bought into minimum wages, he sealed the fate of the United States, which could never generate enough jobs in peacetime to get out of the Depression.
FDR Knew In Advance About the Pearl Harbor Attack
Roosevelt may have been a dismal failure in domestic policy and economics, but he certainly wasn’t an America-hater, and did everything he could to build up U.S. defenses before Pearl Harbor. Interestingly, however, it was a liberal, Charles Beard, who first raised this allegation against FDR. Analysis by veteran cryptanalysts show that no “early information” came in from Japanese sources, nor did the Japanese broadcast their ships’ locations by radio as Beard claimed.
It was the book Back Door to War by Charles Tansill that inflamed this issue. After Rear Adm. Husband Kimmel, the Naval officer in charge of Pearl Harbor, was found guilty of dereliction of duty and “forced” to retire early, defenders of his tried to pin the blame on FDR. In the process, they unfurled a “conspiracy” argument that required virtually all code breakers, radio listeners and cryptanalysts to be somehow culpable too. The code breakers, radio listeners and cryptanalysts fought back, proving they had not intercepted or received any evidence of a Japanese attack.
Early America Had Few Guns and Gun Owners
Admittedly, this one won’t last long. Leftists latched onto this when Emory University professor Michael Bellesiles published Arming America in 2000. He claimed that militia records and inventories showed that colonial and Revolutionary-era Americans did not own many guns.
Only a Leftist could believe such nonsense. But Arming America won a national prize (something you can be sure neither 48 Liberal Lies or A Patriot’s History of the United States will ever win!), and no one bothered to check Bellesiles’ notes. That is, no one checked for a while. Then Clayton Cramer began to raise some questions, and finally a few of Bellesiles’ own supporters actually went to the archives to find that, in one case, the archive had burned down before Bellesiles even got there and, in other cases, the documents didn’t say what he claimed, or even said exactly the opposite of what he claimed! Such is “scholarship” on the Left.
No Communist Was Ever Guilty…Of Anything
Whether it was Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti or Alger Hiss, the textbooks make it appear as though every communist got railroaded and just happened to end up before the jury equivalent of a “hangin’ judge” every time.
For example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted in 1951 of espionage for delivering atomic bomb plans to Soviet agents. They were executed two years later. Yet Mark C. Carnes et. al. wrote “Although [the Rosenbergs] were not major spies and the information they revealed was not important, [they] were executed.”
Not “major spies?” “Not important?” Let’s see, these two gave the plans for the most deadly weapon in history to our most avowed enemy.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Massachusetts anarchists who, in 1920, robbed a factory paymaster in Braintree and killed him. They were convicted in 1921 and sentenced to death in 1927. Sacco and Vanzetti’s own lawyer late in life told Upton Sinclair, a defender of the pair, that in fact Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty.
And Hiss? Alger Hiss became the poster boy for the Left when it came to screaming about persecutions of Communists. He was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948, but the statute of limitations ran out before he could be convicted. Meanwhile, once-former-fellow Communist Whittaker Chambers, in testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs, said that he and Hiss were part of the same Communist organization. Hiss brought a defamation suit against Chambers, who produced physical evidence of Hiss’ activities. Unable to charge Hiss with espionage, a grand jury charged him with perjury and he was convicted in 1950. Soviet KGB files revealed he was the spy known as “ALES.”
What all three of these cases have in common is that liberal historians treat the proclamation of innocence by the criminals as proof of innocence. This provides a nice stage-setter for...
Joseph McCarthy Concocted the “Red Scare” to Persecute Communists (When Communists Were Nothing to Fear)
As my book went to press, M. Stanton Evans provided the last word on McCarthy in his book, Blacklisted by History. In a nutshell, there was no discrepancy in the number of Communists McCarthy claimed were in the government— the different numbers came from the fact that, as the FBI would clear individuals, their names came off McCarthy’s list. More important, virtually all of those he actually identified as Communists were, well, communists. Yet the aforementioned Tindall and Shi claim “McCarthy never uncovered a single Communist agent in government.” But in fact, as I wrote in the book, “a 1954 article… revealed that every security or loyalty risk McCarthy brought forward in his… 1950 speech had either resigned or been dismissed from government.” McCarthy also exposed T.A. Bisson, Cedric Belfrage, Leonard Mins, and others. Annie Lee Moss, one of the poor “victims” of McCarthy’s charges, in fact was outed by the Communist Party’s own records as a member!
These, and more than 40 other lies in “mainstream” history textbooks, should remind us that the Left has an agenda. What I could not do in a “quick-hitter” book like 48 Liberal Lies About American History is to expose the larger agenda of advocating big government. Every book subtly and not-so-subtly advocates the state as the solution to every problem. That, of course, is the biggest lie of all, and perhaps the subject for a future book.
Larry Schweikart is a former rock drummer who opened for “Steppenwolf” before obtaining a Ph.D. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the No. 1 best-seller, A Patriot’s History of the United States and 48 Liberal Lies About American History. His forthcoming book, Seven Events that Made America America is being made into a documentary film about the part rock and roll played in bringing down the Iron Curtain.