Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oliver Stone, Part 1

The first thing worth looking at is what Oliver Stone actually said that caused the uproar. As reported by the New York Times, Mr. Stone said the following:

“Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein . . .German
industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support. Hitler
did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people.” Mr. Stone then
proceeded to discuss what he called “the Jewish domination of the media,” adding
with an expletive that Israel had messed up “United States foreign policy for
And, if quotes are accurate, he didn't say 'messed' up US foreign policy for years. But this is the 21st century, so let's move on. There was more, as quoted in this story at news.com.au, which gives a better breakdown of Stone's comments, though again, only the juicy parts:

“We can't judge people as only 'bad' or 'good'," Stone said.

"(Hitler) is the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect.

"People in America don't know the connection between World War I and World War II.

"Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and it's been used cheaply."

Stone compounded the controversy by claiming Stalin had "a complete other story".

"Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation - he fought the German war machine more than any person," he said.

"I've been able to walk in Stalin's shoes and Hitler's shoes, to understand their point of view.

"You cannot approach history unless you have empathy for the person you may hate."
The uproar went viral overnight, prompting Stone to issue this apology as reported in the Mail Online:

‘In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the
Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the
Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret. Jews obviously do not control
media or any other industry.'
OK, now we have enough to unpack this thing and see what's what. The first post is going to look at what he said about Hitler. Was he right, wrong, what? Then we'll look at his increasingly common take on Stalin and the Soviet Union's part in the Second World War. Finally, when we get around to it, we'll kick around his apology, what he apologized for, and why he said what he said in the first place. Was it anti-Semitic? Was it anti-American (hard to imagine!)? Why do we only hear about the Holocaust? What was wrong, right, and really no big deal.

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