Mary Grabar

“We are terrorizing ourselves.” So says Fawaz Gerges, professor at the London School of Economics. To him, someone who esteems himself capable of seeing beyond what ordinary mortals see by virtue of the powerful method of “deconstruction,” Americans’ fear of al Qaeda is based on the same kind of fear that motivated us in the 1950s. The “American imagination” has been “reshaped” since 9/11, claims the professor. On CNN, talking to Fareed Zakaria, on the day after the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the professor concluded, “The terrorism of al Qaeda which no longer exists as . . . it used to be since the 1990s now has replaced the red scare.”

Thus do academics build on the historical lies about the “Red Scare.”

See, there is no threat from al Qaeda or any Islamic terrorists, just as there was no threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

These are the lies that are told to students, who then grow up to, not surprisingly, question the threat of Islamic terrorism, some going so far as to become “9/11 truthers,” attributing the attack to the U.S. government.

I saw such lessons being dispensed in 2009 among hundreds of AP history teachers who, after a long day of grading exams, listened to a lecture by Professor Betty Dessants of Shippensburg University. Dessants was one of several historians brought in as part of the evening’s activities. She spoke on the Cold War. Her contribution to the historical research on this period was the theory that the ranch houses that became popular were built as a kind of defense mechanism against this largely imaginary threat.

The history teachers in the audience, for the most part, just nodded along.

When I asked Professor Dessants how many people had died at the hands of communists she said she didn’t know.

This is the Howard Zinn school of history, a history of often unsubstantiated ephemera in the service of a grand theory—in Zinn’s case that the U.S. is rotten to the core because it is built on the murderous greed of capitalism. Thus the late history professor’s analysis of the Cold War from his bestseller, A People’s History of the United States:

“When, right after [World War II], the American public, war-weary, seemed to favor demobilization and disarmament, the Truman administration . . . worked to create an atmosphere of crisis and cold war. . . . The Truman administration . . . presented the Soviet Union as not just a rival but an immediate threat.

“In a series of moves abroad and at home, it established a climate of fear—a hysteria about Communism—which would steeply escalate the military budget and stimulate the economy with war-related orders.”

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at Her writing can be found at