What did Oliver Stone say that was so inaccurate and/or offensive? He used a certain kind of Tea Party-associated anti-Semitic shorthand — “Jewish domination of the media” — that is considered a huge no-no in this country, for obvious reasons. That plus the wearing of a thin, sinister-looking moustache is what essentially prompted the dust-up, which began with a two-day-old interview in the London Sunday Times.
Stone is an old anti-corporate, antiwar-machine lefty from way back. I’ve come to know him fairly well through personal contact over the years and through mutual friends, and because it takes one to know one, I suppose. He’s very bright, engaged, inquisitive, insightful, and bold-strokey in his thinking. The heat Stone is now receiving seems to be about certain parties believing that he’s suddenly revealed his true anti-Semitic colors. I don’t believe that for a second.
I do believe, however, that Stone has a Showtime series coming up called “Oliver Stone’s Secret History of America,” and that he’s decided not to trot out the usual homilies and rote history-class statistics when being interviewed. He’s going to go outside the safe zone. That’s what Stone does time and again (except when he made World Trade Center).
The other statements Stone made about Hitler and his supporters don’t seem all that weird. “Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein,” he said. “German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.” I’ve never read any books about the extent of Hitler’s support in these countries in the 1930s, but isn’t what Stone said more or less thought to be true?
Stone also said that Hitler “did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people.” This statement is certainly not inaccurate.
According to a Wikipedia WWII death chart, the total number of Russan deaths, both military and civilian, during World War II came to 23,954,000 — a little more than 14% of the total Russan population. That’s a staggering figure. (The total number of U.S. military/civilian deaths during that conflict was 418,500, which represented 1/3 of 1% of the population at the time.) The total number of Jewish Holocaust deaths during World War II was 5,752,400.
And yet the Holocaust, according to U.S. media and history books, is the reigning horror of World War II, and not the fact that almost one in seven Russians were killed by Nazi Germany. This impression is due, of course, to the racial hatred behind the Holocaust and to the coldly methodical manner in which German officers and soldiers carried out the attempted extermination of European Jewry. But why is it that awareness of the scale of Russian WWII deaths barely registers alongside the Holocaust in this country?
Stone was essentially observing that the U.S. media (as well as the public school history books) have placed an understandable but disproportionate emphasis on the Holocaust in considering the totality of horrors caused by Nazi Germany, and that certain powerful figures in this country’s big media constellation have probably had a hand in this. That doesn’t seem like a hugely crazy thing to say. Not that awareness of the Holocaust isn’t an immensely important lesson for each and every citizen to learn and reflect upon. But where are the Russian death museums in this country? Where are all the Russan death documentaries that have either won or been nominated for Oscars?
“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,” Stone said in response. “Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry.”
Is Stone also saying that Neal Gabler was fundamentally mistaken when he wrote a book called An Empire of Their Own? Is he saying that a belief that Jews were heavily involved and invested in the 20th Century “needle trade” is an anti-Semitic myth? Is he saying that the diamond district in midtown Manhattan is run by Swedes and Danes? If so, this proves if nothing else that Stone is first and foremost an independent thinker.