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Camouflaging the Vietnam War: How Textbooks Continue to Keep the Pentagon Papers Secret

Truman lied. Eisenhower lied. Kennedy lied. Johnson "lied and lied and lied." Nixon lied. Who's lying now?


In the Academy Award-winning documentary Hearts and Minds, Daniel Ellsberg, who secretly copied and then released the Pentagon Papers, offers a catalog of presidential lying about the U.S. role in Vietnam. Truman lied. Eisenhower lied. Kennedy lied. Johnson "lied and lied and lied." Nixon lied.

Ellsberg concludes: "The American public was lied to month by month by each of these five administrations. As I say, it’s a tribute to the American public that their leaders perceived that they had to be lied to; it's no tribute to us that it was so easy to fool the public."

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What Climate Activists Can Learn From the Abolitionist Movement

We don't need to copy abolitionists' tactics, but we should learn from their willingness to defy those who put profit above people.


On this Earth Day, those of us fighting for climate justice and an end to the world's fossil fuel domination should take heart from the struggle against slavery.

Imagine for a moment that it is 1858 and you are an abolitionist. Talk about discouragement: The previous year, in its Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no black person—whether enslaved or free—was entitled to become a U.S. citizen. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote that the framers of the Constitution believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect. . ." The decision declared that the federal government could not ban slavery in U.S. territories. A few years before, Congress had passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which vastly expanded the U.S. government's authority to seize and return to slavery individuals who had fled to freedom—or even those blacks born free in the North. Many Northern blacks crossed into Canada rather than live in constant fear.

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Ten Years After: How Not to Teach About the Iraq War

A decade after the U.S. invasion, social studies textbooks are so full of propaganda, they might as well have been written by the Pentagon.


In 2006, with U.S. troops occupying Iraq, the great historian and humanitarian Howard Zinn expressed his desire for the end of the war: "My hope is that the memory of death and disgrace will be so intense that the people of the United States will be able to listen to a message that the rest of the world, sobered by wars without end, can also understand: that war itself is the enemy of the human race."

At least in a formal sense, our country's memories of war are to be found in school history textbooks. Exactly a decade after the U.S. invasion, those texts are indeed sending "messages" to young people about the meaning of the U.S. war in Iraq. But they are not the messages of peace that Howard Zinn proposed. Not even close.

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