- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oliver Stone has admitted that the Holocaust was an atrocity. Nice of him to notice. The award-winning director has been in the news lately as publicity winds down for his love-letter profile of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez in “South of the Border.” The moviemaker also is ramping up for his new Showtime documentary series, “Secret History of America.” There’s a good chance this project should be called a mockumentary, since its creator apparently seeks to make a mockery of history, as well as America.

Mr. Stone came under sharp criticism for remarks he made in an interview published in the London Sunday Times. He said that in his new series he wanted to put Adolf Hitler “in context,” noting that, “Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.” He said the reason for the public focus on the Holocaust, as opposed to casualties Hitler inflicted on the Soviet Union, is “the Jewish domination of the media,” and added gratuitously that, “They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***** up United States foreign policy for years.” Apparently in Mr. Stone’s “us versus them” world, Jews are on the other side.

This isn’t the first time the liberal Hollywood icon has minimized the Nazi leader’s unique individual responsibility for World War II horrors. In January, Mr. Stone said, “Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history, and it’s been used cheaply. He’s the product of a series of actions.” In other words: Don’t blame der Fuhrer; he was only following orders.

Placing evildoers “in context” is one of Mr. Stone’s preoccupations. After meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he denounced the “horrible” U.S. policy toward Tehran and said, “Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy, but we don’t know the full story.” He writes off the excesses of Hugo Chavez’s authoritarian regime in Venezuela to “a section of the Chavista party that is over the top” and “problems from the old governance, inherited [stuff].” As for Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro, he notes approvingly that the Comandante is “a Charles Bronson fan.” And we suppose Third Reich propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels loved his six children until he poisoned them.

There is nothing particularly secret about Mr. Stone’s secret history. It appears to be recycled, discredited revisionist histories spiced with conspiratorial fantasies. This is not surprising, given his track record of cinematic mythology on issues like the JFK assassination, the Vietnam War and Castro’s Cuba. Mr. Stone reflects an extremist intellectual tradition that seeks to find fault with all things American and level the playing field with history’s monsters. In Mr. Stone’s world, the evildoers of history either weren’t all that evil, or American leaders and their shadowy corporate sponsors are just as bad, if not worse. The fact that Mr. Stone is free to make films expressing these eccentric views argues against his central thesis. If the director lived in the dictatorships he seeks to “contextualize,” he would either wind up a fawning courtier glorifying the images of his fanatic overlords, a la Leni Riefenstahl, or he would be dead.

In addition to Hitler, Mr. Stone plans to reimage communist mass murderers Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, whom he says have been “vilified thoroughly by history” and need “a more factual representation.” Mr. Stone apparently wants to reach beyond sterile statistics like how these three dictators were collectively responsible for around 80 million deaths. That may have something to do with why they are vilified, but we should wait for the rest of the story before rendering judgment. Perhaps Mr. Stone will show that they had good reasons for most of those killings. It was probably America’s fault.