tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 7, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PST
tavis: good evening. selection ninth 2012 may be a long night as this breeze came down to the wire on several key states. tonight, we wanted to bring you part two of our conversation with oliver stone and peter kusnick. the new documentary series debuts next monday night. it is called "the aunt told history of the united states. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: part two of our conversation with oliver stone and peter kusnick. their 10-part series on showtime kicks off next monday night. now is another preview of "the. history of the united states. " -- "the untold story of the united states. " >> i steadied american history.
it made sense. we were the center of the world. there was manifest destiny and we were the good guys. i have traveled the world now. i continue my education as an infantryman in vietnam. made a lot of movies, some of them about history. and i have learned a lot more about what i once knew. and when i heard from my children what they're learning in school, i was perturbed that they were not getting the more honest view of the world and i did. we lived most of our lives in a fog. but i will let my children to have access to something that looks beyond what i recall as the tyranny of now. >> material now. tavis: the you think a 10-part series on showtime, a companion book, they can start a conversation about the history
of their nation? >> sure, and i am proud that showtime put this on. this does not use again on american television. but they are very proud of it and it gets repeated and repeated. we have foreign showings of it. hopefully, one day, it will be a text in a school. it deserves to be. it is better than my daughters text, which is apparently the ninth edition. >> and the book is getting widely distributed. it is being sold in costco, wal- mart, sam's. tavis: texas is one example of a state where they are trying to find -- i am trying to get the right word -- they are tidiegetg tighter and tighter in clamping down about what goes into textbooks. before we know it, sliver will have been a carnival. they're changing what happened
-- slavery will have been a carnival. they're changing so much what happened. what makes you think we can never get to this kind of truth in a textbook? >> we have made some progress. in the 1980's and 1990's, they did introduce elements of multiculturalism, the kind of triumph ant history is not there anymore. oliver's dollars textbook is so bad on the atomic bomb that it is unconscionable -- olivers sexpot is so bad on the atomic bomb that is unconscionable. tavis: the top line of the book and the view of this year is it will get, there are major
moments in history. i want to jump back last night. we started the show last night with a quip about henry wallace. -- with a clip about henry wallace. >> most of the viewers and most americans have no idea who henry wallace was. he has been wiped clean of the history books. henry wallace was the secretary of the agriculture in a 18 -- in the 1930's and roosevelt tapped him in 1940 and he wanted a progressive. in 1944, wallace had stood for a lot of progressive ideas. the united states has too dumb and intellectually, economically, militarily -- the united states has to dominate
intellectually, economically and militarily. he called for ending imperialism commending colonialism, wiping of poverty, raising standards of living. in tradition of the french revolution, latin american revolution and the spanish revolution. he was the leading progressive and the second most popular man in america. on the eve of the democratic convention, the gallup did a poll. 65% of americans said they wanted henry wallace as vice- president. drew men who wanted wh were the party leaders. in the 1944 convention, after wallace makes is important speech, there is a great demonstration in favor of him.
before he could get his name in the nomination, he would be back on that ticket -- pepper got 5 feet from the microphone before the party bosses shut down the convention that night. 5 feet, had pepper got in there and wallace become vice president, instead of truman, there would have been no atomic bombing and possibly no cold war. had there been no cold war, the whole history would have been so fundamentally different. but history can be different. it was the people who were pushing wallace against the bosses. tavis: issue #2, you all changed --the story line or tryo get more truth out of the storyline, who was promulgating the cold war. all the movies tillich one way, mr. stone. you tell it another way -- all
the movies tell it one way, mr. stone. you tell it another way. >> yes, the british play a huge role. churchville it is a confirmed anti-soviet. he very much influence as chairman. we detail it month by month, day by day. it is a sham because it is a huge difference in the world. wallace is a progressive american. it is like jimmy stewart in "mr. smith goes to washington. it is also a fun movie to watch, it closed. >> truman becomes president. he was weighing in over his head. -- he was way in over his head
in kansas city. boss prendergast was asked why they chose trimming to run for the senate. he said wanted to show the world that i could take -- that a well-oiled machine could take an office boy and have him elected to the senate. he was so far over his head when he became vice president and the president, he had a recurring nightmare that the secret service would tell him that result was dead. he knew that he was not up for it. -- that roosevelt was dead. he knew that he was not up for it. he is clearly not capable. he tells everybody he meets with for the first two weeks that it is a terrible mistake, that he is not big enough, not smart enough, that somebody else should really become president. they told them he had to bulk up and at least believe that he could be present for everybody would lose faith.
unfortunately, he makes the wrong decision and almost every case. he falls in line with the british thinking, with his anti- suited hard-liners who say that the soviet union are breaking -- anti-soviet hard-liners who say that the soviet union are breaking all of their agreements. truman took this hard-line that the soviets were cheating and breaking their agreements and it took a steadily down the path toward confrontation, with roosevelt knew was not necessary. tavis: and japan, the bomb, you take this issue on and try to set the record straight. >> most americans don't realize that six of the 75-star officers would -- of the seven five-star officers said it was unnecessary.
douglas macarthur, who was hardly known as a pacifist, also said that commit the united states had told the -- also said that, if the united states had told the japanese that they could keep the emperor, it would have had a separate outcome. eisenhower said that he learned that we were going to drop the bomb in the japanese and eisenhower said he got depressed. he said we don't need to do it. first of all, the japanese are defeated and ready to surrender. and i would hate to see our country to be the first to use that kind of weapon. you had animals against that kind of weapon. the japanese do you had the admirals' against that kind of weapon. the japanese emperor was asking for peace. the bomb was dropped on japan in a literal sense. but on a symbolic sense, a it
was struck on the soviet union. we were sending a message to the soviet union that, if you mess with us, you will really be getting it. tavis: depending on where you are watching this program tonight, we may mean not know who the next president is. if we do have a new president, congratulations, i think? [laughter] one thing we do know is that, in the four debates leading up to the election, there was not a single question about poverty in the last election between obama and mccain. >> middle-class, middle class, middle-class. tavis: you cannot read this book without understanding how history has played out with this
divide, this growing divide between the have doubts and the have nots. >> much of the -- with the have- gots and the have-nots. >> the worrying greece, the civil war in greece, turkey, all of this comes up and its chairman in the face and he takes the british point of view it and we become a colonial supporter, in vietnam, in china -- it is a very strange policy that we take. we don't act for the arab world. we move in a direction that is essentially the core of the world. that gets worse in the 1950's when gillis and eisenhower come into power. and it is repeated in these countries.
>> even in the united states, you have this gap. the top 1% of americans, the top richest 1% have more wealth than the bottom 90%. the six heirs to the walmart fortune, $90 billion, that is equivalent to the lowest 30% of americans and this is getting worse. that is part of the reason that we were critical of obama because his initial bailout policy for wall street could have been more such -- and have been much more progressive. the the wall street
>> the concept of imprisonment e else in the world. a lot of it is under class. in 1968, it was a key platform and he drove home the fear. that has been resurrected, jobs, fear, your security, the war on terror. these ghosts are put into our imagination. once they're there, they stay. >> if you can make people afraid enough, then they will surrender their civil liberties. that is legislation they are told has to be passed. >> the patriot act. it goes back to 1947. national security act, the
concept of we have to be scared of communist around the corner. they are in your schools, in your books, it in your homes. watch your neighbor. that goes back to the 1940's and truman had a lot to do with that. >> they started to attack truman from the right from not -- for not being tough enough on the communist. what does german do? he falls into the trap. the communist threat become something real in the mind of the american people because you can play on that fear. initially, there were 300 sites that were put on the terrorist watch list. then 400,000. you keep looking and you will find, just like the witch
hunters in the middle ages. >> what we essentially need is to cut to the end of this four story -- a strong man, like a martin luther king. you quoted it very courageous speech. he sacrificed his life because of that speech, but a man to stand up and has moral rectitude to say to the public that we must walkout of this valley of fear that we're living in and you cannot leave all this nonsense and we need somebody. when they see a book or a vcr movie or something in this would inspire someone in the next generation. >> it raised the question for me whether the public has become so cynical about our politics, so afraid about the world that we live in that it would be impossible to question.
kingd it be possible for 18a to ascend? is the ground still fertile enough? >> by 1968, he was a great hero to many people because he was speaking insanity that they needed to hear and people know the truth. the truth has in mind of the town and people hear it. it takes guts to say it because you are risking it. there will be somebody. >> the first blurb we got on the book was from a kilgore but jeff. we hold a month as a kind of model -- was from mckale or which of -- mikhail gorbachev.
we hold him up as a kind of model. he has to stand up to the hawks and the wall street interest. on some level, i think obama understands that and would aspire to do that and that kind of leader, as kennedy was, tllace and roosevelt thatat imes. we need to build a movement that will force people to do the right thing. king was out there talking about the opposition to nuclear issues before anybody. back in the 1940's and 1950's. but we need a movement. >> i think the machines in the organizations and the systems drive them down.
but the people rise up again. >> and as people understood, as the organizers said in the 1960's, the movement made martin luther king and martin luther king made the movement. tavis: if obama wins were either way, we still have the supreme court to contend with. the reason why this election is so important is because the next president will get two or maybe even three shots and employment in this next term. what does the. the history of the united states tell us about -- what does the on told history of the night set out tuesday of the united states tell us? >> we like to pride ourselves as the world's leading democracy. that is a joke. people around the world know that it is a joke.
the united states constitution used to be the model that every aspiring country used to use. and nobody uses it as a model for new constitutions in other parts of the world. the citizens united case has done more to turn this country into a plutocracy as opposed to a democracy. the fact that people can buy elections and politics, money getting people elected just makes a cruel joke, a cynical joke out of our democracy. that is another reason why it is essential that we have a much more progress of supreme court. tavis: when you know you will have to tell some hard truths to the american public, i am curious whether -- is there any one thing that stands out in your mind where you came across and said that this will be hard to sell to the american people?
they will not buy this. they will not believe this. >> you have to start somewhere. i am sure that martin luther king said the same thing to himself at some point. this is crazy. why would i open my mouth about vietnam when there's so much to work with here. everyone is so hypnotized. he was protesting the and on and i was in vietnam. when you realize you're not helping anyone, you have to make a contribution. you cannot just watch football games and the consumers and go shopping and have 800 bases around the world to intervene and troops everywhere and worship the army and the military as if it can do no harm. >> oliver has a great line in his movie "jfk" were garrison
says that people are suckers for the truth. people are. people want to know the truth. my students want to know the truth. >> whether it is rosa parks or martha'martin luther king, it cs around again. that is what we emphasize. it is not anti-american. it is pro-american. tavis: we will close on that note. when the kevin costner character speaks to the jury at the end, it is hard to talk about closing speech to the jury. the new book from oliver stone and peter kusnick is called "the on told a history of the united states."
congratulations in advance on the success of the series. good to have you on the program. but to you. that is our show for tonight. congratulations to the new president if we know who that is. until tomorrow night -- we will have a wrap up on tomorrow night 's program about the election. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with this year's election results with larry king. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s.