Phi Beta Cons

Airbrushing History: The ‘Vanishing Commissar’

Yes, it’s appropriate to reconsider the heroes of the past, as is happening on campuses today. But let’s not go too far.

Airbrushing history has a famous precedent. On Wikipedia you can see pairs of photographs of Lenin or Stalin in which once-important people were edited out after they fell from favor. Most, if not all, the “edited” individuals were executed as well. Those included Leon Trotsky, Alexander Malchenko, Lev Kalmenev, Nicolai Yevshov, and undoubtedly others.

Stalin with (top) and without Nikolai Yezhov (via Wikipedia)

One series of four photographs began with four men and ended with just one, Josef Stalin.

Wikimedia Commons has even more such photographs and is seeking other “before” and “after” examples.

In contrast to the Soviets, let’s remember our history honestly.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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