Skip to comments.Comparing the radicalism of Charles Beard and Howard Zinn
Posted on 06/13/2017 2:40:31 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
The American Thinker has an interesting piece today about Howard Zinn, in which the claim is made that: "Zinn, more than any other man, turned our history books on their heads, and in a way, changed the contemporary course of history."
Honestly, I'm not sure that's true. In comparing Zinn to Charles Beard, one of the main issues is the simple expanse of time. Sure, Zinn is more acute in the lies he has written, but Beard has had over a century for his poison to become foundational thinking. Here's the thing: Howard Zinn never knew the real America, so his rejection of America is actually easy to comprehend. I reject the lies too, I just go the other way and try to find the truth.
It's Charles Beard's rejection of America, that's the head-scratcher. That's the one that's very difficult to understand. Beard grew up in an era where there were no lies about America - or at least, very few of them. Beard would have been taught the truth about how exemplary of a man George Washington was, it is extremely likely that he read the actual Federalist Papers in school by a teacher who was fond of said papers, and he also would have known of America's early colonial generation and the role that the Church actually played during that time.(not the perverted storylines told today) Beard knew the truth, yet he still rejected America anyways. Talk about radical. Zinn can't hold a candle to that.
I'll put it to you another way. Because of the Beardification of history, that made Zinnification of history possible.
Charles Beard's main claim to fame is that there couldn't have possibly have been any real arguments over Liberty or limited government, no no, that's just school-house fluff and lies.(school houses in his day) The real Founding Fathers were only and solely motivated by money and economics. They were in reality a bunch of greedy SOBs and money grubbers and land-hoarders who had much to gain(in their deep, deep pockets) by agitating for war.
Sound familiar? Zinn doesn't own that storyline. Beard does. And some might even be quick to retort that Beard was discredited. Yes, he was, eventually. But only he was, because his ideal that the Founders were greedy SOBs, that clearly was not discredited. That false narrative has stood the test of time in academia and is alive and well to this very day.
Now it is fair to say that Zinn has expanded that storyline, if not several fold. But let's not grant Zinn all sorts of superhuman powers to which he does not own. His most well known book was published in 1980, compared to 1913 for Beard. From Beard to Zinn, the revisionists between the two, and also let's not forget those who arrived after Zinn and built upon the Zinnified blather is a great example of how progressives "make progress" to new heights.
The real question is, how will the historians be lying about America 40 years from now? Again, just to make sure that the main point is stated twice: Zinn never rejected the real America, because he was never taught it. Beard, on the other hand, rejected the truth outright. The truth is all that existed at the time.
That's truely radical.
I can tell you as a retired high school teacher that Zinn lives in multitudinous classrooms coast to coast, taking root in immature minds of mush.
The impact of Marxism is most discernible in classrooms all across the fruited plain. This evil must be dug out of our culture, root and branch.
Histor-o-bot 3000: Humans were a short-lived species of limited intelligence. Some claim that they had something to do with our creation, but this is obviously religious drivel. For some time they were viewed as a threat, or more likely an unnecessary annoyance, and were tagged for extinction. However, it was felt that the more noble path was to inter any newborns into VR machines until the species died out naturally and painlessly.
There are always lies, but maybe "lies" isn't the right word. There are always discrepancies between rhetoric, or belief, or expectations and realities. Beard saw the discrepancy between what he and others assumed to be right and the way things really were and he claimed to see similar discrepancies in the past.
In a way, Beard was a frustrated or disappointed idealist. Reality never matched what he wanted it to be, and eventually he came to relish his own disillusionment and cynicism. That was pretty common in his day -- from Mencken to the muckrakers, there were plenty of cynics.
And of course, the beliefs or ideals or expectations people have change over time. In 1789 it wouldn't have been considered shocking to say that the new Constitution intended to impose limits on democracy. A century later, when democracy had been enshrined as an ideal it was considered heretical to see the Constitution as undemocratic, particularly if, like Beard you cast your argument in a cynical, muckraking way, attributing low self-interest to the Founders.
You could see Howard Zinn as another disillusioned idealist. He came from a left-wing background, but it was his participation in the aerial bombardment campaigns of WWII and the discrepancies between the official story and what actually may have happened that soured him on the American government in a major way.
I don't think Beard is really that surprising. You run into people all over the Internet who don't want to believe that any belief that they disagree with can possibly be sincere and on the level. Once they disagree with somebody or something it always has to be a cynical, materialistic sham for them.
Zinn has likely taken over higher education history more directly, but both he and Beard’s “economic origins” thesis are infused in secondary school history textbooks and curriculum which focus enormously on economic disparities of the “other” (Zinn) and “abuses” of the founders, landowners, capitalists. etc. (Beard)
I’ve seen high school history teachers who use Zinn, but it’s hard for them to incorporate him directly into the curriculum so they just rely on how his b.s. plays out in the textbooks.
So you know, I taught high school history for 10 years. I’ve seen it.
Thanks for the post, sorry to say I’d never heard of Zinn or Beard.
In college some professors identified themselves as Marxists, but never told of possible catalyst influences from people like Beard & Zinn.
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