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Howard Zinn (19222010)
The New Criterion ^ | Jan 28, 2010 | Jeffrey Greggs

Posted on 01/28/2010 2:05:17 PM PST by neverdem

From the archives: A brief look at the author of A People's History of the United States and the pernicious popularity of his fractured fairy tales.



Notes & Comments

February 2008

Howard Zinn's fairy tale

On the upcoming television adaptation of "A People's History of the United States."

Some projects are born fatuous, some achieve fatuousness, some have fatuousness thrust upon them. Which melancholy comedy best fits the news that A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn’s anti-American fantasy masquerading as history, is—finally, at last, after so many failed attempts—going to be turned into a television show? Somehow the crowning glory of the farce was the news that the actor Matt Damon (who grew up next to Zinn) would perform in the four-hour miniseries titled “The People Speak.” “Matt Damon, Matt Damon”: the squeaky-voiced puppet playing Damon in the movie Team America offered the perfect epitome of his ostentatious, self-regarding political childishness. And here he is helping to dramatize a book whose message is that the New World, once a paradisal playground instinct with benevolence and creativity when Columbus met the gentle Arawaks, was ruined when rapacious, war-mongering white men overran the continent.

Ho-hum, you say. Another anti-American history of America: what else is new? Isn’t this just business as usual for academic historians? Yes, it is. But Howard Zinn’s book is not just any left-leaning diatribe. Published in 1980, it instantly became a bestseller; even today, more than twenty-five years later, it is number 88 on Amazon. It has gone through innumerable editions and updates. And it is, we’re told, the most widely assigned American history book in high schools across the country. In other words, it is a major source—in many cases, the major source—for students’ understanding of the history of their country.

The astonishing career of A People’s History is an object lesson in how little criticism matters, or perhaps we should say it is an object lesson in how certain sentimental narratives can utterly overwhelm criticism, be it ever so accurate and eloquent. Zinn’s story—noble savages oppressed by nasty capitalists—was calculated to appeal to the politically correct, anti-American spirit that has been regnant among the country’s elites since the late 1960s. But its flaws were early on pointed out with devastating precision by the Harvard historian Oscar Handlin. Handlin’s brief is—or should have been—fatal. Writing in The American Scholar in 1980, he noted:

It simply is not true that “what Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots.” It simply is not true that the farmers of the Chesapeake colonies in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries avidly desired the importation of black slaves, or that the gap between rich and poor widened in the eighteenth-century colonies. Zinn gulps down as literally true the proven hoax of Polly Baker and the improbable Plough Jogger, and he repeats uncritically the old charge that President Lincoln altered his views to suit his audience. The Geneva assembly of 1954 did not agree on elections in a unified Vietnam; that was simply the hope expressed by the British chairman when the parties concerned could not agree. The United States did not back Batista in 1959; it had ended aid to Cuba and washed its hands of him well before then. “Tet” was not evidence of the unpopularity of the Saigon government, but a resounding rejection of the northern invaders.

And on and on. Handlin leaves Zinn’s “deranged … fairy tale” in tatters. It is worth noting, too, that Zinn’s contempt, though focused on America, is fired by a more global hatred. As Handlin noted, “It would be a mistake … to regard Zinn as merely anti-American. Brendan Behan once observed that whoever hated America hated mankind, and hatred of humanity is the dominant tone of Zinn’s book. No other modern country receives a favorable mention. He speaks well of the Russian and Chinese revolutions, but not of the states they created. He lavishes indiscriminate condemnation upon all the works of man—that is, upon civilization, a word he usually encloses in quotation marks.” And yet this book is the source of choice for countless high schools seeking to teach American history. It is soon to provide the script for a television series that will reinforce and codify its anti-civilizational message. What does it mean that such a work, demonstrably a tissue of half-truths, inaccuracies, and self-hating tendentious misrepresentations, should succeed so lavishly? It is sobering to witness the corrosive progress of politically correct sentimentality, the effect of which is not so much to triumph over historical truth as to render it, while the spell lasts, irrelevant.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 February 2008, on page 2

Copyright 2010 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Howard-Zinn-s-fairy-tale-3751



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: academicbias; agitprop; antiamericanism; communismkills; filmactorsguild; historyeducation; hollywoodreds; howardzinn; mattdamon; nakedcommunist; pravdamedia; usefulidiot; zinn
Howard Zinn Becomes History

Burn in hell creep.

1 posted on 01/28/2010 2:05:17 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

I sometimes list to a public radio station in the morning for classical music. The other day I turned it on and they were doing as MEMORIAL show to this red bstrd. I was livid...


2 posted on 01/28/2010 2:06:54 PM PST by jessduntno (Two enormous holes: The Grand Canyon and the Grand Kenyan.)
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To: neverdem

Good riddance.


3 posted on 01/28/2010 2:10:57 PM PST by GunRunner
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To: neverdem

4 posted on 01/28/2010 2:20:50 PM PST by WOBBLY BOB (ACORN:American Corruption for Obama Right Now)
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To: neverdem

I hope the damage that Zinn did will be cleared up soon. Perhaps that will happen in three years, under President Palin’s leadership as we regain pride in America’s many positive accomplishments.


5 posted on 01/28/2010 2:24:49 PM PST by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: neverdem

I hope the damage that Zinn did will be cleared up soon. Perhaps that will happen in three years, under President Palin’s leadership as we regain pride in America’s many positive accomplishments.


6 posted on 01/28/2010 2:25:59 PM PST by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: jessduntno
And it is, we’re told, the most widely assigned American history book in high schools across the country. In other words, it is a major source—in many cases, the major source—for students’ understanding of the history of their country.

When this communist rat bastards book of anti-American filth turned up in our kids elementary school, we took that as a sign to pull up stakes and move out of he Seattle area to the inland Pacific Northwest. For the most part, North Idaho schools were guilty mainly of the sins of omission. It's far easier to fill in the blanks than it is to prevent the America-hating disease of socialism from taking root. I highly recommend Paul Johnson's series of history books. Excellent reads and excellent textbooks.

7 posted on 01/28/2010 2:46:54 PM PST by Noumenon ("Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed, that he has grown so great?" - Julius Caesar)
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To: neverdem

It’s about time!


8 posted on 01/28/2010 2:47:41 PM PST by Wally_Kalbacken
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To: neverdem

As I recall, Zinn had no use for Israel, either, with the usual pack of lies about the Zionists having no right to “stolen” land, etc. Wouldn’t want to be his lawyer in the court he’s at now.


9 posted on 01/28/2010 2:50:45 PM PST by laconic
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To: neverdem

You won’t see any tears shed by this historian.


10 posted on 01/28/2010 3:17:59 PM PST by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: neverdem
Howard Zinn (1922–2010)

I do not usually resort pettiness, but: rot you commie revisionist SOB!

11 posted on 01/28/2010 3:37:09 PM PST by Brass Lamp
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To: LS
You won’t see any tears shed by this historian.

None shed by this student of history, either.

12 posted on 01/28/2010 4:44:01 PM PST by MaggieCarta (We're all Detroiters, now.)
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To: neverdem
As a still-stunned and confused VN Vet, I stumbled into Zinn's book back in 1980 and found myself seduced by his history.

So grateful to have found FR back in the early '90's ... sure helped point the way to the honest Patriotism I always hungered for.

As is commented on the www.RangerUP.com website, "Ok, no country is perfect, ... but we're pretty freakin' good. God Bless America"

13 posted on 01/29/2010 1:40:44 AM PST by CIBvet (So how's all this FAST TRACKED - FREE TRADE workin' out for you so far, Comrade Job-Seekers ?)
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