As a Ukrainophile working on a book about WWII in Western Ukraine, I am frustrated by how little most Americans know about Ukraine.  But on Friday January 22 at 5 pm EST, Fox News will air a documentary called The Revolutionary Holocaust, which will include information about Soviet crimes against Ukrainians.  Why am I not thrilled?  The documentary is produced by Glenn Back.

Now, I am not saying that I object to Beck’s conservative politics.  (Nor am I saying I approve of them.)  But Beck is a polemicist, not a journalist or historian.  Ultra-partisan media personalities like Beck, Ann Coulter, Keith Olbermann, and Michael Moore are good at firing up supporters.  But they seldom get a general audience to think critically about complex issues.

According to a preview of The Revolutionary Holocaust, the program will cover the Holodomor, the 1932-33 famine in which Stalin and the Soviets intentionally starved millions of Ukrainians.  Some debate whether the famine was genocide, but Dr. Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the word “genocide,” believed it was.

I salute Beck for calling attention to this history, and I second his assertion that wearing hammer-and-sickle T-shirts is despicable.  But I’m troubled by the context in which he’s presenting this history.  In this clip, Beck explains The Revolutionary Holocaust will examine the abhorrent views of writer George Bernard Shaw.  Shaw, beloved by many, was an apologist for Stalin, and he denied the Holodomor took place.  Too many people don’t know Shaw was a propaganda tool for a murderous regime.  Beck isn’t content to uncover that, though.  He draws a parallel between Shaw’s thinking and Hillary Clinton’s politics.  In this preview, Beck links “out of control government” policies and the “progressivism” he sees taking hold in the U.S. to the regimes of Stalin and Mao.  In addition to being dubious political rhetoric, the point is insulting to the millions of victims of communism.  It’s an abuse of history like the one committed by those who compared George W. Bush to Hitler, a comparison Beck likely condemned.  The Revolutionary Holocaust might be a powerful documentary, and I am curious to see it.  But Beck’s rhetoric about contemporary American politics will keep many from listening to his examination of history.

I don’t blame Beck alone for this.  The failure of more objective, mainstream media figures to pay attention to Eastern European history and the sins of communism has left the subject to those who exploit it to attack their political enemies.  Beck is correct when he says Stalin, Mao, and other communist leaders are not subject to the same enmity as Hitler.  He perceives this as a liberal bias.  I am not certain of the cause, but I think it has something to do with the idea among intellectuals, especially on the left, that anti-communism has the taint of McCarthyism.  Whatever the reason, it has to change.  History cannot be left to those who would use it only to advance their political agenda.

For a good example of a documentary that takes a hard look at the crimes of Soviet communism, I recommend The Soviet Story.  It’s the sort of film that the victims of communism and intelligent viewers deserve.

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