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What Spielberg’s The Post — and Our Textbooks — Leave Out

What Spielberg’s The Post — and Our Textbooks — Leave Out

Bill Bigelow
Sadly, too many textbooks found in the nation's school hide pretty much everything that is important in the world — from the roots of American racism, to the war against Mexico; and from the causes and consequences of climate change, to, yes, the nature of the Vietnam War.

Although I earned a California teaching credential during the Viet Nam era, my teaching career was short lived as I was unable to apply what I had learned in my modern rhetorical theory class (Goebbels and successors) and other factual history. Fascist school boards and their administrative appointees (supes and principals) made sure that teachers taught revisionist history.

During Saint Ron’s regime, completing a masters in design and construction enabled me to teach evening community college classes (after working at my day job) and after my company went out of business (during the Bush 41 recession) I landed a tenure track professorship at a top ten research university, where groupthink was worse than that promulgated by school boards. Within two years I ran as fast as I could from academia and into sustainable energy.

Since the dawn of the 21st century corporations, their media, and the politicians they own keep accelerating demonization of teachers, creating far greater challenges for teachers than I faced. While my hat is off to teachers who persevere, it is indeed unfortunate that revisionist history continues to worsen as the 21st century progresses.


What is also left out are the connections between Katherine Graham and Bill Bradley with the CIA. See Operation Mockingbird and the book “Mary’s Mosaic” for more details.





Ain’t that the truth. I put up with it for 25 years and after four out, feel much better. Groupthink Anonymous, anyone?


I have no education background, but I do have a BA in Political Science and lots of American history credits. I keep thinking there has to be some way to set up an alternative civics education program for high school age young people to tell them the truth, based on the writings of Zinn and other similar truth-tellers. I don’t know where it would be based (maybe Unitarian Churches or similar sympathetic institutions?), or how it could be funded and staffed (volunteers with a solid background in history and politics?), but I know that if nothing is done, soon there will be no one under 40 who understands the truth of our fall into authoritarianism and oligarchy.


Perhaps a Unitarian charter school to teach truth ?


"Thus, all the U.S. history textbooks on my shelf mention the Pentagon Papers. But none grapple with the actual import of the Pentagon Papers. (from the article)

But this new book does. I was just reading parts of it at the local bookstore - memories came flooding back - there may even have a moistness about the eyes.

O’Donnell - would that be an Irish name - this Bostonian graduate of Harvard law ~~~ ?

The review by ‘Tracy Rowan’ I found invaluable (see reviews in ‘goodreads’) - capturing exactly the tenor of the times - and the books NOW significance (Trump’s gangsters).

Spielberg did this movie “The Post” for exactly this same reason, because he believes in his country’s resilience and innate decency - despite its government & governance.

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“The long historical memory is the most radical idea.”
–Utah Phillipps

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“Mary’s Mosiac”, highly recommended; read it!

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“Of course, in this respect, the film is not a whole lot better than high school textbooks, ignoring the Vietnamese, glossing over the war itself, and reducing the antiwar movement to a couple of cameo appearances of sign-waving protesters. But that’s not the story Spielberg sets out to tell. Instead, The Post centers on the drama of whether or not the Washington Post will publish the Pentagon Papers, focusing on Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and executive editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).”

“[T]he drama of whether or not the Washington Post will publish the Pentagon Papers,” seems to me now, as it did when I first followed in as it unfolded, one of extraordinary importance.

That, in presenting “the drama” Spielberg “focus[ed] on Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and executive editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks)” seemed to me, throughout the film and still, a brilliantly conceived strategy, brilliantly executed by Hanks and Streep.

It is meant to take nothing away, and does take nothing away, from the importance of other efforts and other events to say that that “drama” was one of extraordinary importance, portrayed with extraordinary evocative skill in “The Post.”

I do not doubt others with the skills of Spielberg, Hanks, and Streep, could make fine films focused on, rather than “glossing over”, “the war itself”, or “the antiwar movement,” or the decades that led to the U.S. military action in South East Asia, or those that followed from the action, or . . .

Spielberg made his film, Shakespeare wrote his play, Bach his music – there’s a world out there still be made.

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In my view, well and importantly put, manysummits.

Thank you.

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Blockquote I get it. Steven Spielberg made a film about press freedom, not the Vietnam War. And, especially with Trump in the White House, the defense of a courageous, critical press is more necessary …

How much of the movie is a favor to the current owner of the Post, the Richest, and consequently, one of the most powerful men on earth? Just an add company to the easily gullible, movie about post good, therefore post good.

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I too have spent years in the academic culture. Astounding how pervasive it is that people who claim to be searching for new insights and for scientific truths, exhibit next to zero civic or intellectual integrity when it comes to publicly questioning the established narrative.

This is a good article. But for those educated outside the US - there isn’t much new here.

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I recently read “Mary’s Mosaic” and agree with dogpaddle and notwistalemon that this is an important work. I bought the book (a rare purchase for me as I am Po) but there is one copy in the Philly library system if anyone is from these parts.



Often left out of the story is the role of Tony Russo, the man pushing Ellsberg and making it all happen. He was a friend of mine.


Actually, that is what the Zinn Education Project is designed to do. Bill Bigelow, who wrote the article about “The Post,” co-directs the project. We provide lessons to classroom teachers for free access at our website. You will likely be encouraged to know that 76K teachers have signed up so far – some just use one lesson, others teach people’s history all year long. Please visit the site to learn more and consider supporting our work so that we can reach more classrooms this year. (I can’t insert a link, but you can google Zinn Education Project or click a link from Bigelow’s bio.)


Let’s not forget I. F. Stone, who was exposing US government lies about Vietnam in his newsletter in 1964 if not earlier. The first opposition to the war came from way outside the US establishment. Glorifying the Post, which is very much an organ of US imperialism, is just another instance of brainwashing by the US elite.


You will find Tony Russo in the lessons at the Zinn Education Project website.


Good for you. I did not get past student teaching in grad school. These are always stories of betrayals: If you haven’t read All Quiet On The Western Front and Goodbye To All That it is worthwhile to do so. Same old story today even as we face complete annihilation.


I literally just came back from the theatre and watching “The Post”.

I was shaking with emotion by movie’s end - similar to when I visited Arlington many many years ago.

I realized how vital passion is.