At one time, Americans believed that the wholesale rewriting of history happened only in the Soviet Union.
“The problem with writing about history in the Soviet Union,” went the joke, “is that you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”
A classic example of this occurred in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
Lavrenti Beria had been head of the NKVD, the dreaded secret police, from 1938 to 1953. In 1953, following the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Beria was arrested and executed on orders of his fellow Communist Party leaders, who feared they were targets of a coming purge.
But the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just gone to press with a long article singing Beria’s praises.
What to do?
The editors of the Encyclopedia wrote an equally long article about “the Bering Straits,” which was to be pasted over the article about Beria, and sent this off to its subscribers. An unknown number of them decided it was safer to paste accordingly.
Today, the Republican party is furiously rewriting history in a desperate attempt to win the 2016 Presidential election.
Specifically, its members are now trying to convince Americans that:
- President George W. Bush “kept us safe” (excluding, of course, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, which snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans); and/or
- President Bush isn’t to blame for 9/11–it’s his predecessor, Bill Clinton (who left office more than a year and a half before 9/11).
Joseph Stalin was depicted in Soviet “history” texts as the architect of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War II.
No “historian” dared mention that Stalin’s wholesale purges of the Red Army in the 1930s had made the country vulnerable to the German attack in 1941. As had Stalin’s “nonaggression” pact with Germany in 1939, where he and Hitler aggressively divided Poland between them.
Recently, Jeb Bush has entered the “Rewriting History for Americans” sweepstakes.
On October 16, 2015, during an interview on Bloomberg TV, Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for President in 2016, dared speak (for Republicans) the unspeakable:
“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time. He was President, OK? Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
Jeb Bush was quick to respond on Twitter: “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”
Not one to let Bush–or anyone else–have the last word, Trump blasted more Tweets:
“At the debate you said your brother kept us safe–I wanted to be nice & did not mention the WTC came down during his watch, 9/11.”
And: “No @JebBush, you’re pathetic for saying nothing happened during your brother’s term when the World Trade Center was attacked and came down.”
Now another Republican Presidential candidate has taken to rewriting 9/11: Florida United States Senator Marco Rubio.
This came during the Republican Presidential debate in Greenville, South Carolina, on February 13.
According to Rubio: “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”
And on the following day, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he again made the charge: “If you’re going to ascribe blame, don’t blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.”
All of which ignores such embarrassing truths as:
- During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, was not permitted to brief President Bush, despite mounting evidence of plans for a new Al-Qaeda outrage.
- From January 20 to September 11, 2001, Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, 42% of the time.
- National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject of terrorism. Then she insisted that the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting.
- Paul Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.”
- Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz–whose real target was Saddam Hussein–said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.”
- Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged her to “picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.”
- Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically–and needlessly.
- Neither Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence. Nor has any of them been brought to account.
People who say the Republicans are “batshit crazy” for denying responsibility for 9/11 clearly haven’t read–or understood–George Orwell’s novel, 1984.
The unnamed Party’s slogan is: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
The same holds true for Republicans: They hope to rewrite the past, as Joseph Stalin did, to wash away their crimes and errors–and pin these on their self-declared enemies.
And thus gain–and retain–absolute power over 300 million Americans.