Sunday, August 17, 2014

"48 Liberal Lies on American History"? Exposing Larry Schweikart's Book For the Dreck It Is

"Where's Larry? We wanna learn 'bout Liberal Lies!"

It's almost a given that when you hear or see some right winger, who professes to be an "independent thinking researcher" on matters of history and politics, he or she is really a gullible pawn who doesn't know squat from squash. The first test, especially when they sound off about "liberals revising history",  is asking them to list four or five examples off the top of their heads. Nine will get you ten they can't do it, but will instead say "Read Larry Schweikart's book about 48 Liberal Lies!'

In such a case, rather than waste time on dreck (most of us who are college educated are choosy on how we invest our intellectual capital - or should be!) we check out the background of this purported history guru who would lead us libs from profound "ignorance" to the one and only truth.

It turns out if one even does a modest amount of research much can be learned about Schweikart. For example, he used to be a drummer for the 60s rock band 'Steppenwolf'. (According to an Arizona Tea Party site). Who'da thought?  I last saw those guys live in New Orleans in 1969 but they were only ok - not as good as the Stones, for example.

Other information we learn:

- He's a frequent guest on Fox and Friends, and also a "darling of the Right' including being pals with David Horowitz and Larry Prager

- He's had extended appearances on Limbaugh, bloviating at length

- His book '48 Liberal Lies About American History' has appeared in numerous Right wing venues including the hysterical 'Free Republic' to the somewhat more rational National Review.

So much for "independent thinking". Sounds more like dittohead "thinking".

Looking at Schweikart's list,  the discerning and historically- educated person, who's also worked in academia, can immediately spot two commonalities in the "lies". All are based on the strawman fallacy - which is attributing to an opponent or opposed group positions which they don't really hold or generally hold, and red herrings - contrived positions confected by Schweikart himself in order to distract from more substantive points or issues.

I'm not going to waste blog space with all of his listed BS idiocy but will just cite a few. Those who want to see the full list  of howlers (underwritten by his two endemic fallacies)  can easily Google them:

Lie #5: John F. Kennedy Was Killed by LBJ and a Secret Team to Prevent Him from Getting Us Out of Vietnam

Lie #6: Richard Nixon Expanded the Vietnam War

Lie #7: The "Peace Movement" Activists Were Not Dupes of the KGB 

Lie #8: Ronald Reagan Knew "Star Wars" Wouldn't Work but Wanted to Provoke a War with the USSR

The first alleged liberal lie listed is easily shot down - thanks to more than 20 years of released FOIA files on the assassination, and the obvious and evident exposure of the Warren Report as a political fraud. In combination with other facts released,  LBJ  has definitely been shown to have had a role, if not as the ultimate mastermind, then as a cooperative agent. Most of this I already showed in previous posts,  e.g.

Noting especially that LBJ faced prosecution in the Bobby Baker scandal just days after the Dallas motorcade - with money trails to be released by the press and also a full judicial inquiry. Thus, actively cooperating in the assassination  (e.g. helping plan the motorcade route through Dealey Plaza) provided an expeditious solution to all his troubles - plus catapulted him into top dog position.   As for the "secret team" stuff, if Schweikart means the CIA or elements within it, e.g. 'Staff D' , a SIGINT operation also mandated for assassinations -   then he'd be correct and I already expatiated on how that was done, e.g.

Of course, those too damned lazy to do independent research would never learn that.

The claim that Nixon expanding the Vietnam war is a lie, is also a lie. Everyone not stoned or semi-conscious at the time,  and who has read the Pentagon Papers, knows damned well of Nixon's bombing campaign in Cambodia. By the very definition,  when you add another nation to your bombing sorties and attacks you have expanded a war. So I've no idea WTF Schweikart's all about.  It seems he believes his readers are brain dead zombies or totally illogical. I'm not sure which.

The Peace movement blather ("lie #7")  is a similar pile of horse manure, mainly for the consumption of right wing stooges who were either comatose during the 1960s or weren't born yet. Anyone alive then knows it was the FBI's COINTELPRO which actually infiltrated the protest groups including the Weather Underground, Yippies, the SDS as well as less well known groups. The basic strategy was to dress these undercover imps like hippies then "join" the groups and spread havoc from within by telling lies or planting false info. (Google COINTELPRO and learn more about it!)  Had the KGB really had a hand in any of the protests the FBI would already have had its people in on busting - exposing their influence. Hoover was a hyper-paranoid so would have  known if the KGB had any role!

The Star Wars tripe (#8)  has been circulating in the circles of the semi-educated Reich wing for decades. But a simple resort to picking up the special 'Directed Energy Weapons Report' in Physics Today from April, 1989 will disclose how Star Wars was totally exposed as a white elephant and fraud - a colossal waste of money.  The Report, all 30 odd pages of it, shows how the media and the Reaganites were led by the nose on this absurd program that had about the same chance of working as shooting an ICBM down with a rifle.  In that sense, the simple media PR emanating from the damned program would have clearly spoofed the Russkies into really thinking there was something there.

Oh, let's not forget another  liberal "lie":

Lie #20: Lee Harvey Oswald Shot JFK Because He Was a Deranged Marine, Not Because He Was a Communist 103

And, of course, neither is true. Oswald wasn't "deranged" at all but was portrayed that way by the puppet press which was cowed before LBJ's egregious political solution. . (See my  2 earlier links above to see how I skewer this crap.)

Other comments, from those who've reviewed Schweikart's book on amazon include the following:

1) I fear that if you're an educated conservative, and you've had the misfortune of reading this book, you've already pulled a good deal amount of hair out of your head like I have, internally pleading with Schweikart not to be such a bad writer and worse a bad spokesman for a cause.

Look: forget that these aren't really common things anyone is taught in school. Forget that many of these arguments are in fact originated by anti-government types. Forget that Schweikart is an abominable writer and harms the conservative movement by making it look like buffoonery. IN know what? .....Just forget this book ever came out.

2) Wow. This guy is an idiot. Reconstruction ended as a compromise of the 1876 disputed presidential election. By the 1920s it was fifty years behind us. The New Left never amounted to a true block of scholars as they discredited themselves and promoted unsustainable positions decades ago. In fact this is my main complaint about Schweikart, he discredits lies that he himself invented and attributed to liberals to make himself appear the hero. It is like the exterminator who releases mice into your house then charges you to get rid of them.

3) Of Schweikart's 48 "lies" I (who attended both American public schools and American public colleges) had never heard of most of them. In Lie #1 he claims that liberals believe American presidents were isolationists. No president has ever been a true isolationist. Lie #2 claims business interests promoted wars with Mexico and Spain. Actually, one cannot compare these two wars so simply as they were fought in different periods of our history under different sets of values. In 1898 the concept of imperialism was not unpopular with many, only a minority which included Andrew Carnegie.

4) Lie #34 truly demonstrates Schweikart's ignorance about Indians. He claims the lie is the first Thanksgiving took place because the Indians saved the Puritans from their own ineptitude. Larry, there is no lie here, this is exactly what happened. First of all the Pilgrims were not Puritans, they were separatists. Puritans wanted to "purify" the Anglican church. The Pilgrims saw Anglicanism as a lost cause not worthy of saving. So they set sail for Holland and lived there for a few years. But then they sought a greater degree of separation so they set sail for America, in September. When they arrived in November they realized they had no way of providing food for themselves through the New England winter. If the Pilgrims were so capable, why would they set sail in the fall, with no chance of planting a crop before winter? They truly were inept as the massive numbers of deaths from starvation that first year reflect.

5) Schweikart and scholarship are two words that really do not belong in the same sentence...cull 48 "liberal lies" from statements made at one time or another by "liberals" and then "demolish" same in 5 or 6 pages....seriously....that FDR knew about the Pearl Harbor attack (and, by extension, could have prevented it) is a lie that a liberal would propagate?.

6) Looking at his other books, they're purely political in nature and not objective in the slightest. It's no wonder that they're on the reading list for conservative and religious book clubs. They're so filled with hero-worship of the Founding Fathers and the other "Great Men" of US history that they are utterly useless as legitimate history books. No, I am not offended as a liberal but as a historian.

Take this book for what it is: a puff piece intending to make historically illiterate American, conservative Christians feel superior for being historically illiterate American, conservative Christians.

7) This book is a perfect example of the false "two-model" approach common to (but not exclusive to) fundamentalist thinking - we see it in the discussion of politics, religion, and regularly in most any broadcast media debate. This book is rife with allegedly "liberal" opinions (and often just conspiracy theories), many of which are certainly not taught in schools and universities. The book seeks to cover an array of topics, but in the end, sadly it says very little. It reads more as a reactionary quasi-tirade against illusory "liberal" foes somewhere in academia, the author being "true" history's courageous advocate. The writing itself bears the faint din of paranoia.

As for the genuine seeker of historical truth -  intelligent and educated people who wish to learn about the REAL lies taught about our history-  I recommend James Loewen's excellent and quality book, 'Lies My Teacher Told Me'

Enough said!

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