The Pentagon Papers’ Disappearing Act

Alternative Press Center

Does the absence of the Pentagon Papers in modern textbooks mean Ellsberg's work was in vain? (WBUR Boston/Creative Commons)

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History changes based on where you’re sitting. Some high school students have been fortunate enough to sit in the right place at the right time to have Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as their textbook; their worldview was challenged by a presentation of the United States that encompassed the fullness of its imperial project.Over at Portside, in Camouflaging the Vietnam War: How Textbooks Continue to Keep the Pentagon Papers a Secret,” Bill Bigelow, a former history teacher, exposes the minimal treatment of the Pentagon Papers in today’s corporate history textbooks. Unlike in A People’s History, “none grapples with the actual import of the Pentagon Papers,” says Bigelow.
For young people raised on a diet of a pro-United States, colorblind” history, the facts of government deception, war-making and state malfeasance that saturate US. engagement with the world can make for dissonant reading. Reconciling truth, justice and the American way” with actual U.S. foreign policy takes cognitive gymnastics. Maybe that’s why it’s not in the textbooks.  Read on at Portside.
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