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  • Fred Litwin

James DiEugenio's Lame Excuse for Oliver Stone

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

A few days ago I blogged about Oliver Stone's lack of support for protestors in Cuba who are fed up with the dictatorship.


Already this year Oliver Stone has made a documentary which fêtes Nazarbayev, the dictator of Kazakhstan.


It seems that Oliver Stone, for some strange reason, likes dictators.


What was the response of James DiEugenio to my posts? Here are some of his comments from Facebook:


"It speaks to your credibility and your neocon politics. The USA stood for dictatorship in the 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh, in the 1954 overthrow of Arbenz, the refusal to hold elections in Vietnam in 1954 and installation of a dictator in DIem, the 1960 assassination of Lumumba, the 1965 overthrow of Sukarno, the 1973 overthrow of Allende. I have never seen you complain one iota about any of these. Oliver did in his book Untold History. I won't even talk about how many people were killed as a result of those choices the US made, but they are in the millions. You are pretty selective in your choices of dictators are you not? Do all these others get Fred's OK?"

I responded:

"So your answer to stone’s love of dictators is to criticize me? Whatever you think of me, it doesn’t change the fact that Oliver stone fetes dictators like Putin, Castro, Chavez, and Nazarbayev. The mind boggles."

And his reply:

"No what I said is that he criticized all of those guys I named. Somehow in all of your books including your signature book Conservative Confidential, you have not. So in other words you are very selective in your choices. They all have to do with Stone? Why, because you think Oswald did it and he does not. Talk about mind boggling. And cherry picking."

and

"The other thing Fred leaves out is that one reason Oliver did the film and the second one is due to the fact that Kennedy was an anti colonialist. The Indonesia overthrow would have not occurred under JFK. And in the long version of the documentary we spell that out with two authorities. Lumumba was killed deliberately at the time he was since Dulles knew Kennedy would have favored him. Again, you will not see this in Fred's books. In fact, he makes the truly nutty statement that LBJ was continuing Kennedy's policy in Vietnam.😜 When in fact, LBJ admitted on tape in February of 1964 he did not agree with Kennedy's withdrawal plan! Therefore, even when you have it in the guy's own words, that makes no difference to Fred. This is why all his books should be dismissed. Like McAdams, they are all written with a neocon agenda which colors everything in them."

There's a few more DiEugenio comments that you can read on Facebook. But you get the point. The only defense he can offer regarding Oliver Stone's love for dictators is to criticize me.


The logical fallacy here is Tu Quoque. Here is a paragraph from The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe:

"The Latin phrase tu quoque translates to "you too." This is an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else does the same thing: "My evidence may be bad, but so is yours." This fallacy is frequently committed by proponents of various alternative medicine modalities, who argue that even though their therapies may lack evidence of effectiveness, more mainstream modalities also lack such evidence. That argument, of course, doesn't justify a treatment that lacks evidence. It is, furthermore, a false premise, as the level of evidence for mainstream therapies is often much higher than that for those considered 'alternative.'"

DiEugenio's arguments could also be classified as ad hominem.,


What he leaves out from his comments is my long record of fighting dictatorships and campaigning for human rights. The cornerstone of the Free Thinking Film Society, which I started in 2007 to show films in Ottawa, was democracy, freedom, and human rights. Here are some of the films that I showed in Ottawa:


Che: Anatomy of a Myth

A look at the real murderous Che Guevara.


A Night on Afghanistan

Keeping Our Promises; Fundraiser for the Afghan School Project in Kandahar (to send girls to school).


Crossing

The "Schindler's List" for North Korea -- The Wall Street Journal


Iranium

Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon


Europe’s Last Dictator: The ultra-nasty regime in Belarus

Film and Speeches about the horrible regime in Belarus.


When China Met Africa (Film)/China in Canada (Panel Discussion)

A look at Chinese state-owned investment in Africa and panel discussion on Canada with Terry Glavin, David Harris, David Kilgour, Scott Simon and Jason Loftus.


God Loves Uganda

A film showing Christian missionaries in Uganda pushing for harsh penalties for homosexuality.


Organ Harvesting in China

A panel discussion on how China harvests political prisoners for organs with author Ethan Guttman, David Matas and others.


Hacked! When Cyber Spies from China Attack

A film on cyber spying from China followed by a panel discussion.


Transcending Fear: The Story of Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisgheng is a human rights attorney in China known for defending activists and religious minorities and documenting human rights abuses. He has been disbarred and detained by the Chinese government several times, and severely tortured. He last disappeared in February 2009 and was unofficially detained until December 2011, when it was announced that he has now been imprisoned for three years. His commitment to defending his clients is influenced by his Christian beliefs and their tenets on morality and compassion.


The Invisible Men

Gay Palestinians live under the threat of death in the Palestinian Territories and must escape to Israel where they become the invisible men.


Education Under Fire

The 30-minute documentary profiles the growth, struggle, and inspiring spirit of the Baha´i Institute for Higher Education. Baha´is in Iran have been subjected to systematic persecution, including arrests, torture, and execution simply for refusing to recant their beliefs.


Putin’s Kiss

Nashi is an increasingly popular political youth organization in Russia with direct ties to the Kremlin. Officially, its goal is to support the current political system by creating future elite among the brightest and most loyal Russian teenagers. But the organization also works to prevent the political opposition from spreading their views.


Free China

The fates of a woman living in Beijing and a man living in New York become inextricably linked because of a common conviction. From the award-winning director of “Tibet: Beyond Fear”, Free China: The Courage to Believe examines the widespread human rights violations in China through the remarkable and uplifting stories of Jennifer Zeng, a mother and former Communist Party member and Dr. Charles Lee, a Chinese American businessman, who along with hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens are imprisoned and tortured for their spiritual beliefs.


The Living

A film about the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s.

Speaker: David Kilgour.


Justice for Sergei

How an innocent Russian lawyer dies in prison

2010, The Netherlands


Oscar’s Cuba

The story of Dr. Oscar Biscet who has just been released from a 25-year prison sentence in Cuba for his promotion of human rights.


The Power of the Powerless

A look at the velvet revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia.


The Lives of Others

The horrifying, sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in the former East Germany.


For Neda

On June 20, 2009, Neda Agha-Soltan was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran during the turmoil that followed the Iranian presidential contest. Within hours, images of her dying moments, captured on cell phones, appeared on computer screens across the world, focusing the world's attention on mass protests against the rigged elections in Iran. Features previously unseen footage of Neda with friend and family, as well as exclusive video of her recorded the day she died.


Outside The Great Wall

At a time when China has joined the economic powerhouses of the world, it has also erected a new Great Wall against free speech and democracy, blocking the flow of information among Chinese and from overseas. This brave documentary features interviews with 12 prominent Chinese intellectuals and artists living in exile, from Nobel Prize-winning writer Gao Xingjian in Paris and novelist Zheng Yi in Washington, to Tiananmen student leaders Wang Dan and Zhang Boli, and the “Godfather of Chinese Democracy” Xu Wenli. The story of these courageous men and women is the story of the struggle for freedom and human rights in China. Their fight continues today.


I no longer show films in Ottawa. However, I am still involved with human rights. Here is a picture of me with Martin Lee, the father of democracy in Hong Kong. I moderated a panel on Hong Kong for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa.


I was in Hong Kong for the handover in 1997. That night Martin Lee led a demonstration at 2 AM outside the legislative assembly, which was being disbanded by China. They gave out these face masks and I kept mine, and brought it to show him. I will be donating it to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.


And while James DiEugenio likes to criticize my book Conservative Confidential, here is part of my conclusion that he will never quote: (pages 184 - 187)


The United States, under Barack Obama, has been in full retreat

from the world. It doesn’t look like any Republican successor would

behave very differently. Countries like France may be called on to step

up to the plate. The French led the successful effort to depose Libyan

dictator Gaddafi in 2011, and the French defeated Al-Qaida forces in

Mali in 2013. As Conrad Black put it in his 2014 book, Rise to Greatness:

The History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present, Canada is not

going to be able to replace the United States in the world — “no country

could do that” — but there is an opportunity and a duty for Canada “to

fill some of the space that has been vacated.”


Canada is in a fairly good position to pick up some of the slack

America’s retreat has created. Our finances are in good shape. We aren’t

burdened by the sclerotic lethargy of most western European countries.

We also have credibility that few can match, largely because we have no

overseas colonial baggage and no history of unjust wars. And despite

what the NDP sometimes says, the world thinks well of Canada.


The Harper Conservatives once sensed that Canada could play a

bigger role in promoting democracy. Their 2008 platform stated that

they would “make the promotion of Canada’s democratic values on

the world stage a major focus of our foreign policy.” The Conservatives

pledged to establish “a new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency

that will help emerging democracies build democratic institutions and

support peaceful democratic change in repressive countries.”


That never happened.


In 2011, the Liberal Party promised: “We will establish a Canada

Democracy Agency, with capacity to broker, coordinate and support

deployments of Canadian governance expertise, from both within

federal agencies, and beyond — including other governments, retired

professionals, the private sector and NGOs.”


And why on earth shouldn’t Canada lead big time on this issue?

How about also pushing for a Council of Democracies — an organization

that could have far more relevance, far more clout and far more gravitas

than the ridiculous, dictator-driven United Nations?


Canada could lead on democracy and freedom around the globe.

We could be the ones to champion dissidents around the world and to

help oppressed minorities everywhere in their fight for freedom. As

dictators fall, and they inevitably do fall, Canada could be the first in to

help build fledgling democracies.


It wouldn’t be easy. We’d have to stare down China and promote

Taiwan, actively support the Iranian opposition, organize international

coalitions, tell the Saudi royal family to keep its brand of Wahhabism to

itself, and occasionally we’d have to remind the Americans about their

own commitment to human rights.


Want the CBC to do something useful for a change? How about

CBC Farsi to unite Iranians around the world? Sure beats Little Mosque

on the Prairie, no?


Further, the government must offer more opportunities for

Canadians to match significant international initiatives. In 1979, the

government introduced a matching program for the acceptance of

Vietnamese boat people into Canada, and more than 60,000 Vietnamese

refugees were allowed into the country, far more than originally planned.

Matching programs are routinely used for relief projects but their use

can be extended to educational, social and other uses, too. We also need

to get more Canadian schools and communities involved.


Alaina Podmorow is a Canadian hero. She started raising money

for teachers in Afghanistan when she was nine years old. As of 2015,

her charity, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, had raised

more than half a million dollars. Twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger, from

Thornhill, Ontario, started an NGO, “Free The Children,” to work against

child labour. Think of what could have been done if every grade school

in Canada had been paired with a grade school in Afghanistan. When

kids get involved, creativity flourishes and the emotional involvement

is at a very deep level. Cities and towns can also be twinned to help our

foreign policy goals. Civic engagement easily trumps the bureaucrats

sitting in Ottawa.


Changing the national narrative to one based on freedom and

democracy will also bring together leaders and activists from a broad

cross section of Canadian minority communities. Their concerns,

interests and experiences — in short, their solidarity — in ongoing

struggles against totalitarian, authoritarian and anti-democratic

regimes and forces in their homelands, could enrich our foreign policy.

Relearning the importance of solidarity not only helps with Canadian

cohesion, but can help fight apathy, ameliorate the isolation that new

Canadians often experience, and provide ways for far-flung diaspora

communities to learn from one another, to share experiences and

ideas, and build alliances and partnerships in peace, order and good

government, and the global cause of democracy, equal rights and the

rule of law.


When it comes to winning the Olympic Gold Medal in hockey,

there’s nothing this country won’t do. When Canada excelled at the 2010

Vancouver Olympics, we all took pride that we were the first host nation

to lead in Gold Medals since Norway in 1952 — our 14 Golds set a

new record. But we were all a bit sheepish about our “Own the Podium”

slogan. It was a bit brash for us. Many in the international community

were also taken aback — was Canada going too far for Olympic success?

Wasn’t this completely out of character?


It’s time for us to be brash. And if we are going to brash about

something, then why not for freedom and democracy?


Somehow I don't get the feeling that Alexei Navalny, rotting in prison in Russia, is anxious to see Oliver Stone's new documentary on the JFK assassination. I am sure that Syrian refugee children would love DVDs of Stone's interviews with Vladimir Putin. And, of course, the hungry people of Venezuela must be proud that Oliver Stone documented the successes of their hero Hugo Chavez.




Previous Relevant Blog Posts


James DiEugenio's Lame Excuses for Fletcher Prouty


Oliver Stone Sides with Cuba's 'Repressive Dictatorship'


Two Views on Oliver Stone's Love Affair with Nazarbayev


Oliver Stone Fêtes Another Dictator



Oliver Stone's Greatest Hits


Is the director's latest film soft on Castro?


Oliver Stone defends himself After Calling Russian Anti-LGBTQ Law ‘Sensible’


Hollywood Movie Director Oliver Stone praises Putin for Syria intervention on trip to Saudi Arabia


Oliver Stone: Jewish Control of the Media is Preventing Free Holocaust Debate


Oliver Stone's Latest Dictator Suckup


Oliver Stone’s Latest Piece of Pro-Putin Propaganda May Be His Most Shameless Move Yet


‘The Putin Interviews’: Oliver Stone’s Wildly Irresponsible Love Letter to Vladimir Putin


Has Oliver Stone Ever met a Dictator He Doesn't Admire?


Oliver Stone's 'Empathy' for Hitler


Iran's Fajr Film Festival grabs headlines with Oliver Stone

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