Countering historical amnesia

A promising attempt to recall conveniently forgotten episodes in US history recently debuted at NPR with a story on the CIA-engineered overthrow of Iran’s constitutionally legitimate prime minister, Mohammad Modsaddegh, in 1953. It’s worth a listen and even makes room for some narrative complexity despite the breezy, children’s program format that has infected so much of NPR’s programming following the abrupt removal of Bob Edwards from Morning Edition in 2004. (It appears today’s haute bourgeoisie require quick vocal turns, inexplicable repetition, and scripted banter to match the attention span of a mayfly with ADHD.)

I’m interested to see if the series takes on the CIA’s subsequent Eisenhower era project, the 1954 military coup in Guatemala that ousted the democratically-elected President, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, and set the stage for the thirty-six year long Guatemalan Civil War that devastated the indigenous Maya. I also hope the show’s young-ish hosts resist the comforting ritual of assigning black and white hats to the historical principals. My own attempts to understand historical events in their social, political, and personal context suggest that the more you know, the more bewilderingly complex things get.

Image: Ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh arrives at his trial, November 8, 1953. Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain