Fasten your seatbelts, Time Tourists, because this week, our visit to the world as seen through a 10th-grade evangelical textbook, World History and Cultures In Christian Perspective, will continue our whirlwind tour through the MADcap world of the Cold War (Spoiler: Reagan wins it through deficit spending and yelling at a wall).
For once, World History in this chapter actually attempts to discuss the history of the world, focusing not only on the U.S. and Europe but also mentioning some of those places where the other 3/4 of the planet’s population lives, because even those otherwise-irrelevant people were threatened by Godless Communism.
But first, let’s talk about Europe! We get a discussion of the Iron Curtain descending over Eastern Europe, and the brutal suppression of rebellions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, of course. Yugoslavia’s non-Soviet brand of communism is briefly mentioned, and the book tells us that the Polish government “gave voters more choice in elections” and that Poland “remained realtively independent from Soviet domination,” which means that Gerald Ford was actually right, so shut up.
Western Europe, with help from the Marshall plan and the natural strengths of the free market, valiantly rebuilt itself after WW II, and resisted Soviet expansion, but was under constant threat from all the usual suspects:
But socialists became influential in many Western European countries, and Communists infiltrated the governments of some. Spiritual coldness, the root of man’s problems, also continued to plague Europe, resulting in weakened moral standards.
The textbook doesn’t actually mention topless beaches, but you know that’s exactly what they mean.
Just in case you might have worried that the book might continue the disconcerting swing toward factual accuracy that we saw in its discussion of World War II, the current chapter jumps straight into carefully shaded half-truths, as in the section on postwar Britain:
After World War II, Great Britain fell under the influence of the socialist Labour Party which introduced state-controlled schools, compulsory national health insurance (socialized medicine), nationalized industries, wage and price controls, and a host of other social programs. As a result, Britain’s economy declined rapidly and her ability to stand against Communism was severely weakened.
Never mind that Britain’s National Health Service was actually conceived during the war and enthusiastically endorsed by conservative hero Winston Churchill — nope, it was socialist, and so no true Churchill could have liked it. The book even says that when Conservatives returned to power, they were so preoccupied with dealing with the communist threat that they “were either unable or unwilling to dismantle the welfare system created by the Labour Party.” Strangely, there’s no mention at all of what Winston Churchill actually said about the proposed NHS in 1944, using language echoing his famous “fight them on the beaches” trope:
The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.
So, yeah, his later “failure” to dismantle the NHS was probably just an oversight, as was Maggie for-God’s-sake Thatcher’s vow to preserve the NHS, which also goes unmentioned. We also learn that
Morality also declined drastically in postwar Britain, and British churches were generally empty on Sunday. The nation that once sent Christian missionaries all over the world became a mission field.
Pretty tragic stuff, we know. Oh, and Britain lost its empire, which was also bad for missionaries, and allowed Communism to spread to many former colonies.
We are told that France was awesome under DeGaulle, but that socialists ruined everything, and that Spain was a reliable bulwark against communism under Francisco Franco, who was the target of a Soviet “propaganda campaign that called for international opposition to Franco and for the overthrow of his anti-Communist government.” No suggestion that there was anything less than lovely about the Generalissimo (who is, we must note, still dead). The chapter’s biggest laff riot comes in the brief section on the utter failure of socialism in Scandinavia:
After World War II, the Scandinavian nations — Norway, Sweden, and Denmark — adopted socialistic governments. The economies of the Scandinavian countries grew during the postwar era, but the decline in public morality and religious faith and the growing cost of welfare finally took its toll. High taxes and dependence on the state for daily needs caused a decline in the work ethic and further eroded moral restraint. Low worker productivity, rebellious young people, and a growing national debt caused many Scandinavians to doubt the effectiveness of socialism.
Yep, a mixed economy with economic growth, people getting healthcare and long vacations, and young people being rebellious, a problem unique to Scandinavia. Clearly a hell on earth.
We get a sizable section on the rise of communism in China, with the usual recriminations about the Truman Administration’s “betrayal” of the Nationalists (because what we really needed was a land war in Asia), and of course a long list of the atrocities of the revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. Frankly, the Mao years were so awful that the textbook doesn’t have to invent anything for us to mock, so we will move elsewhere.
Hey, how about Korea? According to that one show with the funny Army doctors, the Korean War was full of amusing things! You will be very surprised to know that this section focuses mostly on “Truman’s shocking decision” (that’s an actual section heading) to relieve Douglas MacArthur from command of the U.S. and UN forces in Korea:
MacArthur urged the opening of a second front in China itself by using Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan, declaring that the battle against world Communism would be won or lost in Asia. But President Truman and American leaders in Washington opposed MacArthur’s plans for final victory. They wanted a war of “containment” in Korea that would not develop into a full-scale conflict with Communism. When MacArthur protested that Washington’s policies were handcuffing U.S. military efforts for victory in Korea, President Truman shocked the nation by abruptly removing General MacArthur from command on April 11, 1951, replacing him with General Matthew B. Ridgeway.
All MacArthur did was to publicly complain about orders from the President, and call for an invasion of China that could have led to a nuclear war — why did Truman not recognize that MacArthur was right to oppose civilian control of the military? We are then treated to another full page of support for MacArthur, including long excerpts from the congressional hearings in which “some of the top U.S. commanders in Korea revealed why America’s first “no-win” war had been such a terrible failure.” The 1997 edition of the textbook devotes nearly as much space to criticizing Truman’s conduct of the Korean War as it does to the events of the war itself; the 2010 revision saves some space by including only the angriest of these postwar denunciations. In both, the message is clear: America’s brave heroes could have whipped Communism once and for all if only they hadn’t been stabbed in the back by a weak-willed President who didn’t want to let them win.
Gosh, we wonder if that theme will come up again in this book?
Next Week: Wrapping Up the Cold War, the liberal media lose Cuba and Vietnam, Reagan and Thatcher Save the World, and probably some moral decline in there, too.
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