How our Understanding of History is Manipulated

Andrew J. Fell
Activist Post

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that in order for us, the general population, to understand the deeper issues of the current geopolitical situation, it is imperative for us to understand the relevant history.

This may sound somewhat obvious, but I would argue that this is a fundamental sticking-point when discussing such matters, as it is difficult to link individuals to the antisocial and unethical actions they perpetrate [1:2] without a historically accurate point of reference.

For example, when discussing matters such as the proposal that 9/11 may have been initiated by our ‘leaders’ [3], I find that people quite often respond with the simple question ‘why?’, as it seems absurd to think that our ‘leaders’ would do something quite so inhuman and immoral for some sort of political gain. I will not attempt here to go into what their motives were, but rather into why it is that we, the general public, rarely remember the lessons of the past and continue to be misled about the circumstances leading to each and every conflict.

At this juncture I would suggest that the reader check out an article by John Pilger entitled ‘Our children are learning lies’  in which he clearly sets out several examples of how we are taught about an historic event at school and how this information will in turn have a direct effect on the formation of our future perceptions of the world [4

Unfortunately, this information can all too often bear little or no relation to the actual event (Pilger uses Vietnam as a prime illustration of this), because the language and information used to teach us essentially pre-programs our comprehension of future warfare, automatically predisposing us to whichever side has been identified as the ‘goodies’ while creating a vested dislike or even hatred of the ‘baddies’. 

Perhaps ‘baddie’ should be rephrased in Orwellian terms as ‘a figure of hate’. From what I remember of my own learning on Vietnam, I recall thinking that the Americans became involved in order to help protect the ‘Democratic South’ against the ‘Communist North’ — this is probably what most people believe. According to Pilger, this analysis of the Vietnam conflict is far from the truth; in fact, almost completely contrary to the reality of the situation. The excerpt below comes from his article referring to a school textbook written on the subject: 

It says that under the 1954 Geneva Accord: ‘Vietnam was partitioned into communist north and democratic south.’ In one sentence, truth is dispatched. The final declaration of the Geneva conference divided Vietnam ‘temporarily’ until free national elections were held on 26 July 1956. There was little doubt that Ho Chi Minh would win and form Vietnam’s first democratically elected government. Certainly, President Eisenhower was in no doubt of this. ‘I have never talked with a person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs,’ he wrote, ‘who did not agree that . . . 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader.’

Not only did the United States refuse to allow the UN to administer the agreed elections two years later, but the ‘democratic’ regime in the south was an invention. One of the inventors, the CIA official Ralph McGehee, describes in his masterly book Deadly Deceits how a brutal expatriate mandarin, Ngo Dinh Diem, was imported from New Jersey to be ‘president’ and a fake government was put in place. ‘The CIA,’ he wrote, ‘was ordered to sustain that illusion through propaganda [placed in the media].’

Phony elections were arranged, hailed in the west as ‘free and fair’, with American officials fabricating ‘an 83 per cent turnout despite Vietcong terror’. The GCSE guide alludes to none of this, nor that ‘the terrorists’, whom the Americans called the Vietcong, were also southern Vietnamese defending their homeland against the American invasion and whose resistance was popular. For Vietnam, read Iraq. — Extract from ‘Our children are learning lies’ by John Pilger [5] 

What this essentially tells us is that, for all the democratic ideals that America and the West claims to espouse, as soon as someone who does not agree with their viewpoint is voted in they will do anything in their power to subvert and undermine them. This is rephrased and then becomes the ‘official’ history of events, finding its way into everything from textbooks to documentaries – George Orwell and 1984, eat your heart out!

You don’t have to look far to find similar examples of this subversive reinvention of recent history –  simply look at how Hamas has been marginalized despite winning a clear majority in the Palestinian legislative election of 2006. [6]  

Hamas was not ‘permitted’ to govern, despite winning the overall support of the Palestinian people, due to their not having the same agenda as the policy makers in Washington. That is not to say that we should agree with all Hamas policies (or anyone else’s, for that matter), but that we should at least respect the fact that the Palestinian people, through seemingly fair elections, have chosen their own government. The Americans evidently did not: they swiftly imposed sanctions and withheld aid from the Palestinian Authority in protest at the audacity of the Palestinians voting for an anti-American party [7]. The power sharing deal between Hamas and Fatah hammered out afterward under American influence is the equivalent of the Conservative Party in Britain winning over 50% of the seats in a general election and then being forced to govern in coalition with the previous losing Labour Administration — a ridiculous prospect but arguably a comparable scenario. [8]

According to the words of former Republican Presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, the Palestinians are an “invented people” and are merely part of the larger Arab community, despite the fact that each Middle Eastern country has its own form of Arabic language and customs [9]. 

It could be argued that these types of statement serve to de-legitimize any section of society. Looking at history, this stratagem has been used as an excuse for ethnic cleansing, whether it be the United States in their treatment of Native Americans in the 19th Century; or 1930s Germany rounding up of the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews and any other so-called undesirables; or the genocides in Bosnia or Rwanda in the 1990s – all the way through to Australia’s expunging of aboriginal culture during the first half of the 20th Century. 

To say that Palestinians are not a people is evidently to completely ignore the reality of their current political situation. Very few countries have the same boundaries as they did 200 years ago, so it can be reasonably argued that the Palestinians who reside in the “occupied territories” are on the land of their forefathers and have every right to be there. Claiming that they are part of the larger Arab community and not a people is to imply that no Arab country is sovereign unto itself; something that would certainly be disputed on talking to most Moroccans, Saudis or Jordanians. 

Let us not forget that although the Israeli nation is intrinsically a modern construct, this doesn’t mean that the Israeli people don’t have a sense of nationhood or national culture; they evidently do. Are Walloon-Belgians to be considered as ‘French’ simply because they have the same language as France? Is Scotland, Wales or the United States to be classified as ‘English’ simply because they share similar customs? Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric is all too often put forward; and even if the effect is not immediate, it is likely to influence the thinking of a significant number of people over time as the corporate media repeatedly relays these words to the wider population.

For further examples of this duplicity, we could briefly consider the undermining of Daniel Ortega as leader of Nicaragua, and the deposition of Mohammad Mosaddegh as Prime Minister of Iran. Ortega led a movement to oust the previous brutal U.S.-backed regime under Somoza and had put in place massive public programs to increase the living standards of his countrymen [10: 11]. Despite being lauded as the most free elections ever conducted in Nicaragua’s history, the Western establishment media was falling over itself to imply they were in fact rigged. [12]. The illegal methods used by the U.S. and its agencies included the funding of an armed insurgency, later became known as the Iran-Contra affair – a huge topic in itself, well worth reading about as an illustration of the extent to which those in power will go in order to destabilize governments that do not agree with their policies. [13]

Democratically elected Mosaddegh had instituted changes to transfer control of Iranian oil from Anglo-American interests to Iran. This resulted in a U.S.-sponsored regime change which saw the brutal Shah being imposed on Iran for the next 25 years, until his overthrow by the Islamic revolution of 1979 [14]. This fact is little known or cared about by Western observers, but it is widely known and taught throughout Iran. As Robert Fisk mentioned in a recent article in The Independent, ‘It is a weird irony that Iranians know the history of Anglo-Persian relations better than the Brits’ [15] This is something worth thinking about when looking at current Western-Iranian relations.

My point here is that these three events (and there are many more), although in the public domain are not widely known about or understood by the general population. Moreover, I would argue that discussion of these events is actively suppressed by the Western-controlled media, as this in itself would show the collusion of Western agencies in these events. 

However, it is my belief that the situation is more dangerous than this, as noted at the start of this article. It is precisely this lack of information that prevents the general public from making informed decisions on a whole range of current areas of controversy — be it Iran, Syria, Libya or Sudan. We are presented with dubious information from a young age through to adulthood via the public-education system and the corporate-owned media, and it is hard to filter it out and be objective. Grant Allen may have been onto something when he wrote that “No schooling was allowed to interfere with my education.” [16]

There is much that could be said on this topic, but my main point is that it is absolutely vital for those who have an interest in these matters to critically appreciate and understand the history of how public opinion has been manipulated, how perceptions have been altered, and how half-truths have been purposely put forward by the media. It can be argued that in this way the media support the “Military Industrial Complex’s” agenda [17]. 

George Santayana wrote ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ [18]. If it is true that we are being deliberately misinformed and poorly educated about still-relevant historical events, shouldn’t we begin to at least question why this is the case? Might there be something more sinister at work in the world today? 

All the information is still freely available and out there on the Web or in books for anyone who cares to know. It’s up to each one of us to find out everything we can so that we can understand the realities behind global and national policy making, thus enabling us to make informed and rational commentary and contributions to society. 

This is where a revolution in thinking should start. This is where the morally “repugnant” elite control structure should end. [19]

End-notes and further reading:

1 – http://www.ponerology.com/ 
2 – http://www.waking-you-up.com/articles-on-psychopaths-articles-on-cluster-B-Personalities-Articles-from-authors-on-psychopathy.html 
3 http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20041221155307646 
4 – http://www.johnpilger.com/archive-december/page0e77.html?partid=374 
5 – http://www.johnpilger.com/archive-december/page0e77.html?partid=374 
6 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_legislative_election,_2006 
7 – http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-02-09/news/0702090099_1_hamas-led-administration-mecca-agreement-rival-palestinian-groups-fatah 
8 – http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-02-09/news/0702090099_1_hamas-led-administration-mecca-agreement-rival-palestinian-groups-fatah 
9 – http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/newt-gingrich-ignorant-racist-say-palestinians 
10 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandinista_National_Liberation_Front 
11 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua 
12 – http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2479 
13-  http://www.corbettreport.com/episode-102-know-your-history-iran-contra/
14 – https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Mohammad_Mosaddegh 
15 – http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-sanctions-are-only-a-small-part-of-the-history-that-makes-iranians-hate-the-uk-6269812.html 
16 – Rosalba: the Story of Her Development by Olive Pratt Rayner /Grant Allen, published by Putnam’s, 1899, pg 101 – http://www.archive.org/stream/rosalbastoryher00allegoog#page/n114/mode/2up/search/interfere 

Note: this quote (or variation of) is also sometimes attributed to Mark Twain [http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/09/25/schooling-vs-education/

17 – http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/indust.html 
18 – The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense by George Santayana. Scribner’s, 1905: 284 
19 – Excerpt from President John F. Kennedy Secret Society Speech – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhZk8ronces

Andrew Fell lives in the Czech Republic and is a lecturer of English at a Social Work College in Prague. He has a keen interest in geo-politics, ethics, history, cooking and playing music. He can usually be found armed with a smile, sipping a cup of tea at a čajovna in Prague.

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