By Bernie Reeves
Harvard professor Niall Ferguson first gained mainstream notice for his 2003 book Empire: How Britain Made The Modern World that dared to present a fair-minded appraisal of imperialism, virtually an act of treason to the curia of radical scholars who view the age of empire as a one-sided matter. To them, the colonial powers were evil, malicious exploiters of indigenous peoples held captive by European plutocrats motivated by greed, plunder and glory. The other side of the equation has been ignored for over a generation.
This view suited the radical creed disseminated by the Soviets during the Cold War, who pounded out propaganda emphasizing that the workers paradise mandated constant struggle against "imperialists." Perhaps this was a cogent point during World War 1, when the Bolsheviks took control of Russia and pulled out of the conflict between colonial powers engaged in a ludicrous blood-letting generated by territorial jealousies. But the epithet continued to be used as a bludgeon by KGB "active measures" propaganda against the "main adversary", the United States. Beginning in the 1930s and through World War 2 when the USSR was our ally, the depiction of the US as an imperialist power picked up in earnest from the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, into the Vietnam War from the early 1960s to 1975. Not until the disintegration of the USSR did the accusation abate.
Americans had no reason to think of themselves as imperialists. After all, the United States was created in revolution against an imperial power, and ever since has reached out to nations and peoples who desired freedom from oppressors. Yet the post-World War 2 generation came to believe they were imperialists listening to student radicals singing from the Soviet propaganda hymn book in the 1960s. Vietnam was a war of imperialism shouted the placards unfurled in anti-war rallies, adjacent to "Hell no, we won't go" and "Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" -- an ironic attack by the Left on the most potent liberal to hold the presidency to that time.
By the early 1980s, the campus radicals had risen to positions of power as tenured professors and department heads. Like a sleeper cell, they waited for their moment and seized it. The liberal arts were the main target: history, languages, English, anthropology, classical studies, political science, psychology were stripped of the accumulation of knowledge from the beginnings of western civilization in ancient Greece. This treason against western culture required smashing historically accepted definitions to create a new pedagogical omelet focused on race, gender and sensitivity to other cultures. And right on cue appeared the accompanying chant: "Hi-ho, hi-ho Western Civ has to go".
Since the new radical doctrine was incubated in socialist realism, the first objective was to manufacture equality via a perverse affirmative action initiative by elevating underdeveloped nations to equal status with the world's greatest cultures. It was sold as "multiculturalism," and, consistent with leftist screeds, hid behind the skirts of a noble outcome -- "inclusiveness" -- i.e. it is good to study and respect all cultures rather than emphasis on the big achievers.
In this disguise, the real dirty work was undertaken: dismantling and de-emphasizing the achievements of the western world by dramatizing its sins in order to "apologize' to the victims of imperialist exploitation and racism. To enforce the new credo on campus, the "politically correct" police attacked and discredited those that dared defy the party line, labeling offenders as racist, chauvinistic, homophobic ,or, of course, imperialistic. In the cloister of academic freedom, free speech was extinguished.
In situations requiring attention the radicals cannot side-step, such as World War 11, events are twisted against the West, for example staining the US/Allied victory in the Pacific Theatre with shame for dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. This subterfuge is a favorite propaganda campaign of the National Endowment for the Humanities, just one example of the spread of the radical re-interpretation of history that has seeped out into government agencies, public schools and the media.
Just as model farms and bear hugs concealed KGB thugs rounding up and executing millions of innocent Russians, the façade of multiculturalism served as cover for the murder of western culture. The dirty deed is done, despite Niall Ferguson's efforts, the latest being a British-produced television series Civilization: The West And The Rest. Scots-Brit Ferguson compares his series to the famous Civilization program on BBC aired on PBS stations in the 1970s. Hosted by aristocrat Kenneth Clark, the program defined western culture, and obviously made a big impression on Ferguson . As well it should have, although after what has happened to Western civilization since makes Clark's program a quaint anachronism.
The key question is: will Ferguson in his TV series lay the blame for the dismantling of Western civilization where it belongs? Squarely on the Soviets and KGB "active measures" -- and their co-conspirators, the Left in the US and other Western nations, who carried the attack into academia and continue their dirty work well past the collapse of the USSR? Check up on what Bill Ayers is up to and you will get the picture. The West has been infiltrated and defeated right under our noses.
But it is too late to put the post-modern multicultural genie back in the bottle. After 40 years of warfare against their own society by radical scholars, college graduates since the mid-80s are hopelessly clueless when it comes to comprehending current events. Famous figures who shaped the modern world have been excised from the "new history" curriculum now masquerading as scholarship, banished for living in an era considered racist and imperialistic.
No longer "proud to be an American", younger generations have been deprived of their cultural self-esteem and see themselves as the cause of society's and the world's problems. Fighting to keep the world free, achieving magnificent technological advances, creating literature, music and a workable government are dismissed as the blood-stained handiwork of white male chauvinist, racist imperialists. Even global warming is the fault of our forbears. No wonder adolescent suicide is on the rise.
Not only has history been "airbrushed" with Stalinist precision by the radical scholars, it hardly exists anymore in the minds of the under-50 age group. Current events to them rise up out of the ether since they have no information or skills to frame or interpret, even as the information society serves up instantly accessible information. But most tragically, we have lost our self-esteem as a culture after 40 years of incessant attacks on our Western inheritance. Civilized mankind as we knew it is now the object of sneers and ridicule caused by the enemy among us, "useful idiots" on campus who purloined our pride in achievement in the name of class warfare and a corrupt doctrine that eventually imploded.
I fear it is too late for all good men like Niall Ferguson to come to the aid of their culture.