Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Oliver Stone revises history, again

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Opinion,Movies,Gregory Kane,Columnists

Fortunately for film director Oliver Stone, there is no "truth in the title" requirement for television shows.

Stone's latest directorial effort is a series of one-hour documentaries called "The Untold History of the United States." The programs run on the Showtime network.

I only needed to view the first two shows to determine what the title should actually be: "A Left-winger's Biased, Tendentious and Highly Partisan History of the United States."

In the very first show, Stone and its writers presumed to lecture Americans about the Soviet Union's contribution to defeating Germany in World War II. The Nazis did indeed lose more men and materiel on the Eastern Front. I've known that for decades. Unlike Stone, I don't assume other Americans don't know it. And I sure as heck don't give sole credit, as Stone did, to the Soviet Union for Germany's defeat in World War II.

While the United States, Great Britain, Canada and other Allied nations didn't face as many German divisions on the Western Front, the fact is that they, unlike the Soviet Union, were deeply engaged in a war with Japan in the Pacific -- not exactly a minor skirmish.

Stone even gave credit for victory over Japan to the Soviets, claiming the Japanese surrendered not because of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but because the Soviets invaded Manchuria.

Stone and Peter Kuznick, an American University history professor who wrote the "Untold History" script, clearly have spent way too much of their adult lives worshipping at the altar of Josef Stalin. After showing such fawning admiration for Uncle Joe, Stone and Kuznick performed a hatchet job on every American president from Harry S. Truman up through Ronald Reagan, who got his this past Monday night.

I figured neither Stone nor Kuznick would tell why Reagan ordered American troops to invade Grenada in 1983. They didn't disappoint me.

"Bogged down in protracted proxy wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and haunted by the memory of defeat in Vietnam, which he called a 'noble cause,' Reagan hungered for an easy military victory to restore Americans' self-confidence," the narrator piously intoned.

Viewers are told nothing of what conditions were like in Grenada, or what prompted Reagan to send American troops in, but here's a more detailed account.

Full disclosure: I have an advantage neither Stone nor Kuznick had. In 2003, I visited Grenada to do some reporting for a story about the American invasion.

In 1979, a group of Marxists calling themselves the New Jewel Movement, led by two men named Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard, overthrew Grenadian Prime Minister Eric Gairy in a coup. While in Grenada, I interviewed Leslie Pierre, publisher and editor of a newspaper called The Grenadian Voice. He openly defied the Marxists by starting the paper, and the government put him, among others, behind bars.

By 1983, there was a rift between Bishop and the Coard faction. Members of the Coard faction placed Bishop under house arrest, but his supporters rescued him. They and Bishop took refuge in a place called Fort Rupert.

Army troops loyal to the Coard faction fought a pitched battle with Bishop loyalists. The Coard faction troops prevailed and lined Bishop up with nearly a dozen other people against a wall and machine-gunned them to death.

Then the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn, shoot-to-kill curfew. It was only after the head of the medical school in Grenada -- where quite a few American students studied -- said the Marxist thugs might harm the students that Reagan sent in the troops.

That's the "untold history" of the American invasion of Grenada. Remember you read it here first. You sure as heck won't hear it from Stone or Kuznick.

Washington Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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