In Orwell’s 1984, O’Brien , the thought-policeman, tells Winston Smith: “Whoever controls the present controls the past, whoever controls the past controls the future.” This is the totalitarian, fascistic vision of how to “do” history. It is how Hitler and Stalin did it. It is not about the factual record and what emerges from it. It is about manipulation and falsification to create political realities which have contemporary impact, and which shape people’s ideas going forward.
It is the kind of history practiced by so-called liberals, when they can get away with it. It is business as usual for them. Professor Michael Bellesiles, with his lies about gun ownership, was one typical example. He was caught and outed. But I am sure attempts will be made to rehabilitate him. The New York Times has gotten smacked around lately for practicing the kind of disinformation and spin that it has always practiced.
A good recent example of all this is the recent movie about Reagan, which Matt Drudge outed in advance, provoking a storm of protest, causing CBS to cave in on its original broadcast plans.
The idea that this response was “censorship,” or that the movie, starring leftist activist Barbra Streisand’s husband, was “art” is more totalitarian lies.
The movie was a political weapon in a political struggle. The movie would have been the only image that millions of unsophisticated Americans would have had of Reagan. What many people see on TV they take as accurate history. This is stupid, I know, but is a regrettable fact.
The point of this maneuver was not art, or expression, or any of the other weasel words used by liberals to cover up their shenanigans. It was to create a false image of Reagan in the minds of millions of people, for a political purpose. The political result would be to discredit Reagan, his image, his legacy, and those who are his political heirs. This effort was, for now, partly thwarted.
Fortunately, there are true and accurate depictions of Reagan and his accomplishments and his character available. Jonathan sent me this excellent article by Max Kampelman. It shows the astute and focused enemy of communism that Reagan was. Lou Cannon’s recent biography of Reagan as governor of California is reputed to be good. I hope to read soon the volume of letters recently published. I can vouch for the collection of his radio addresses, which is excellent. I read Peter Schweitzer’s book Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism, which is a very good introduction to Reagan’s role in winning the Cold War. Michael Barone’s chapters on Reagan in Our Country are excellent.
Still, this is all highbrow stuff. Books. Who reads books? (Even people who should spend their time reading blogs instead.)
Keeping a lying, commie hatchet-job off of broadcast TV is a minor victory. But the liberals still control Hollywood, the universities, and most of the Old Media news outlets. All of them will tell baldfaced lies about Reagan all day long if they can get away with it, and we won’t be able to stop them every time. We need to create alternative popular media, to carry the war for the truth about the past to the enemy, defeat them, and present the facts as they actually were to a gullible public which knows too little history.
We don’t need to “control” the past. The facts, pretty much, speak for themselves. If they can be gotten out.