Stanford University’s “Reading Like a Historian” Project, promoted in a July 30 Education Week article, offers teachers a ready-made lesson on the Cold War with four documents: excerpts from Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech, the Truman Doctrine Speech, a telegram sent by Soviet Ambassador Nikolai Novikov to the Soviet leadership in 1946, and a modified letter by Henry Wallace, shortly before he was asked to resign by President Truman.
The “Guiding Questions” focus on “close reading” and “context.” But with the scant information offered, students will likely see the final question, “Who was primarily responsible for the Cold War, the United States or the Soviet Union?” as one of moral equivalence.
Another lesson on the Cold War is sold by Rutgers professor Marc Aronson, who advertises himself as a “Common Core consultant,” speaker, and author. He calls Common Core “a magnificent opportunity.” His most recent book, Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies, is tailored for English teachers who need to teach “informational texts” to middle and high school students. Aronson makes it easy for them, offering them free teachers guides.
Master of Deceit mocks Hoover’s own bestselling Masters of Deceit that described and warned about communist subversion. Aronson’s book is extremely manipulative and salacious, and engages in wild speculation.
While a conservative point of view is thrown in here and there, the points come off as gratuitous and obviously contradictory to the main (correct) message. Aronson presents FBI Director Hoover as a repressed homosexual, who exploited Americans’ irrational fears about communism.
Among the “original documents” that Aronson provides are photographs—of Hoover with his friend Clyde Tolson. He points out, for the benefit of eleven-year-olds, that photos of Tolson reclining on a lawn chair, and fully clothed, “might be seen as lovers’ portraits. . . but we cannot say for sure.”
In fact, we can. As Bernie Reeves, founder of the Raleigh Spy Conference, has noted, the story of Hoover’s alleged homosexuality was contrived by the KGB in the 1960s. He notes evidence that “…the Hoover rumor, fabricated by the KGB, found its way into the lexicon of our culture where it has evolved from vicious disinformation to accepted fact— a veritable success for the KGB and another example of the role of the failure of established media to serve as an honest broker in the affairs of the nation and the world.”
“Hoover provided the security Americans wanted,” writes Aronson. “Our beliefs about what was acceptable—what could be shown in public and what had to be guarded in private—shaped the secrets he could gather.”
Aronson’s parting words to the student are, “I hope Master of Deceit shows that we must always question both the heroes we favor and the enemies we hate. We must remain open-minded, even when the shadow of fear freezes our hearts.” In fact, our fear was real. Hoover led the FBI’s efforts to expose the Communist Party members and fronts that were part of the international communist movement that the editors of the Black Book of Communism had estimated were responsible for about 100 million dead.
Mary Grabar, Ph.D., is founder of the Dissident Prof Education Project, Inc., which is committed to “resisting the re-education of America.” Sign up for “dispatches” at www.dissidentprof.com. Her other publications can be found at www.marygrabar.com and include Accuracy in Media, PJ Media, Weekly Standard, Minding the Campus, and many others. She teaches English at Emory University.