Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Oliver Stone, who has made his name with films about Vietnam, Wall Street and the John Kennedy assassination,as well as a long list of other acclaimed and noted films. In The Sunday Times of London, Stone achieved notoriety with some comments about Jews and Israel. Comparing Jewish and Russian casualty figures, Stone noted “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 (million),”
What is Oliver Stone's explanation for what he feels is a disproportionate focus on Jewish suffering? The Atlantic relates Stone's spin on Jewish influence as follows.
“The Jewish domination of the media,” he says. “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f-cked up United States foreign policy for years.”
Oliver Stone boils it all down to numbers. On the one side is 6 million Jews. On the other is 25 million Russians. Confined to Stone's frame of reference, it all sounds so unfair. What Stone left out of the picture is the fact that most Russian deaths were combat casualties and collateral war damage, along with some atrocities. The 6 million Jews killed were civilian men,women and children who were slated for extermination. A Russian citizen under Soviet rule stood an 11% chance of being killed during World War Two. If you throw in injuries, starvation and atrocities, the grimness of the Russian picture is hard for us to imagine.
Despite the grim reality of life in the USSR during World War Two, there were Jews who risked their lives to trade the near 100% certainty for Jews of death under Nazi rule for life under Soviet rule.The Germans wanted to subjugate Russia. By contrast, they wanted to wipe out Jews. Fully 1/3 of all Jews alive in 1939 were murdered by the Nazis in 1945. How one chooses to emphasise the death of the 6 million in general European history is a matter of for discussion. But the Final Solution is an integral part of Jewish history.
Concerning the "Jewish domination of the media" it is worth noting that America is a nation of immigrants. Some ethnic groups established a strong presence in America through immigration. Irish Americans, Greek Americans and Armenian Americans have a strong presence in America. Each group advocates for the nation to which they feel an ancestral connection. In America, it is easier to find advocacy for Greece, Ireland and Armenia than it is to find the Turkish or British point of view. Croatia had an advantage during the war in Yugoslavia of having a strong Croatian immigrant presence in America. In addition to industrial and business interests, immigrants are a major factor in the alignment of America's national sympathies.
Oliver Stone tried to make a point by throwing around statistics without shedding any light on the context of those statistics. Stone rightly points out that Hitler, Stalin and Mao should be viewed in context. Despite this, Stone takes facts and statistics out of context and turns their presentation into a propaganda statement. Rather than being a documentary film maker, Stone was for the duration of his Times of London interview more a propagandist than a historian.
Whatever Oliver Stone has said to apologise for his remarks, he has already shown that his political perceptions impart a certain blindness to his view of history. This is a temptation common to many people. The difference with Oliver Stone is that he is not only reading history but presenting it as well. Crunching numbers and interpreting what one sees is an integral part of writing and presenting history. Hopefully. Oliver Stone will be mindful of this as he presents history to move goers. Like any good history teacher, Oliver Stone urges us to consider history in "context". I hope he listens to himself. Sphere: Related Content