Is it possible that American high school students taking the Advanced Placement European History for early college credit might not learn about Winston Churchill and the evils of communism? A new curriculum framework, provided by the College Board headquartered in New York City, appears to whitewash the horror of communism and makes no mention of Winston Churchill.
If teachers follow the new guidelines for shaping their lesson plans, high school students will not likely read Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946 delivered in Fulton, Missouri. Concerned for Europe, Churchill warned that “[f]rom Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent….” Moscow’s “police government” ruling of Eastern Europe was troubling. This scenario, Churchill argued, “is certainly not the Liberated Europe we fought to build up.”
As reported in a recent The College Fix article, the new curriculum worries David Randall of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), “an independent membership association of academics working to foster intellectual freedom.” Randall claims the new framework “warps and guts the history of Europe to make it serve today’s progressive agenda.” An NAS report argues that the AP European History examination “minimizes and extenuates the evils of Communism, the brutal destructiveness of Soviet rule, and the aggressiveness of Soviet foreign policy.”
This is a serious charge. But should we be surprised with the push to rewrite history in a manner more appealing for liberal theorists and educators?
Let us consider the experience of one acclaimed Russian historian. Opposition to Richard Pipes was significant. But fortunately this professor was both brilliant and fearless. Before he began his impressive career as a Harvard University history professor (1958-1996), he almost lost his life as a young Jew to the Holocaust machinery of the National Socialists. In his published memoirs, he wrote: “The main effect of the Holocaust on my psyche was to make delight in every day of life that has been granted to me, for I was saved from certain death.” His academic focus was on communism: “I felt and feel to this day that I have been spared not to waste my life on self-indulgence or self-aggrandizement but to spread a moral message by showing, using examples from history, how evil ideas lead to evil consequences. Since scholars have written enough on the Holocaust, I thought it my mission to demonstrate this truth using examples of communism.”
And what an amazing academic career he had. The Baird Professor Emeritus of History at Harvard published many important books that liberals were not always pleased about. In Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, his chapter on the persecution of Christianity was ground breaking, pointing out how the revolutionary socialists wanted to remove religion altogether. As is the case today, traditional religious faith is an unwanted competitor to progressive ideas. If liberals are unable to exploit religion for their progressive agenda, they must diminish it.
Liberals accused Pipes as being too harsh on communists in his book The Russian Revolution. In an interview by historian Paul Kengor, Pipes stated: “When I speak at universities on the subject of Bolshevik crimes and the Soviet war on religion, and I list death tallies and share horrific quotes from Lenin and Stalin, most of the audience is riveted, as if I’m providing completely new information (which I am), whereas professors in the crowd sometimes glare at me with contemptuous looks….”
How does one explain the reaction of liberals? Pipes suggested they could say, “Well, yes, the practice of Soviet communism was perhaps quite bad, but the ideas are wonderful; and if we did not disturb the Soviets and did not fight them or resist them but, instead, helped them, they might have realized these ideas.”
When Pipes revealed the true Lenin in his book The Unknown Lenin, there was much silence: “[T]he whole establishment [including academic Sovietologists in the West] wanted to depict Lenin as an idealist who was betrayed by Stalin. So, when you have these letters that show how cruel Lenin really was… they simply didn’t want to talk about it.”
But the silence continues. Apparently, the liberal educators of 2016 do not want to talk too much about the horrors of communism.
Originally published in The Conservative Prof. https://theconservativeprof.wordpress.com/