The Peoples' Progressive Prelate

A Herculean Heroic Historian

Lauded Leftist Loathed by Lame Liberals

There is no such thing as impartial history. The chief problem in historical honesty isn't outright lying. It is omission or de-emphasis of important data.         ----Howard Zinn

Where to begin with such a powerful voice against oppression and militarism? Howard Zinn has been one thing, besides a respected but feared mouthpiece for the far left: He was a consistent anti-war activist --at least since after his service ended in World War II. What influenced his controversial stances forces us to go back to the beginnings --we will move leftwards on the time line. Howard Zinn early life experiences would come by his immigrant parents: father Edwin Zinn, who had escaped the problems of being Jewish in Austria-Hungary, waited tables, then worked in factories to afford his apartment to be a nest for Jennie Rabinowitz. This housewife was another who found her way to New York, but after a much longer journey from the Jewish section of the Russian Western Siberian town of Irkutsk.

August 24, 1922 was the happy day, though by the time the boy was seven, Edward's attempt at running a candy store was extremely challenging with a Great Depression. The parents, who barely got any education themselves, and typical of families wanting to better the next generation, tried to bring books into the house, a dime at a time, however the special gift was the complete set of Charles Dickens. It was a sacrifice in those days to send twenty-five cents and a coupon each to receive all 20 volumes of Dickens via the New York Post. This latter literature, of which he claimed he had read every work, would have an immensely profound effect on Howard. He had to go to many different schools, as Zinn recalled:

We moved a lot, one step ahead of the landlord. I lived in all of Brooklyn’s best slums.
Thomas Jefferson High School (later alumni were 1971 graduate, Lloyd Blankfein, who became CEO of Goldman Sachs, and class of 1973 actor Jimmy Smits) was where he finally received his diploma in 1939 before heading out to work as a pipe-fitter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His reading list now included John Steinbeck and Karl Marx. It was in the working man's environment that he became interested in the labor movement, moving leftward enough to attend one of the American Communist Party's meetings in 1939, this would have ramifications that would last a lifetime. He was just seventeen when he was with them in their peaceful political rally in Times Square when:
Suddenly, I heard the sirens sound, and I looked around and saw the policemen on horses galloping into the crowd and beating people. I couldn't believe that. And then I was hit. I turned around and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up sometime later in a doorway, with Times Square quiet again, eerie, dreamlike, as if nothing had transpired. I was ferociously indignant... It was a very shocking lesson for me.
He met his future wife in kind of a roundabout way, Roslyn Shechter, who also was involved in the movement in New York during these turbulent times. The story was later told that Howard was delivering a note from his friend to Roslyn at her home, when he was love-struck upon seeing the beautiful blonde. She was the first of her six siblings to be US born (1922) to an another Jewish immigrant family who struggled to make ends meet. The other three were born in the Ukraine (once part of Poland) before the parents, moved to New York, she was a girl in-between boys. She was brought up more Kosher than he was, but he had a similar upbringing:
My parents were not very religious. They observed the big holidays—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover—and they kept a kosher household. They spoke Yiddish to one another and English to us, but there was enough Yiddish spoken so that even now I can pretty much understand it. I went to Hebrew school to study for my bar mitzvah and endured it, enthusiastically. When my bar mitzvah was over, that was the end of my religious activity.
Not only was reading and education encouraged in Roslyn's home, but her mother paid the twenty five cents for piano lessons as well. Parallel to Howard's, but, she would later be an actress, and a painter. But now she would have to wait to be a wife to Howard, as his interest was in fighting those Nazis ravaging Europe.
It was not Hitler's attacks on the Jews that brought the United States into World War II, any more than the enslavement of 4 million blacks brought Civil War in 1861. Italy's attack on Ethiopia, Hitler's invasion of Austria, his takeover of Czechoslovakia, his attack on Poland - none of those events caused the United States to enter the war, although Roosevelt did begin to give important aid to England. What brought the United States fully into the war was the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Surely it was not the humane concern for Japan's bombing of civilians that led to Roosevelt's outraged call for war - Japan's attack on China in 1937, her bombing of civilians at Nanking, had not provoked the United States to war. It was the Japanese attack on a link in the American Pacific Empire that did it.  --A People's History of the United States (1980)
There was a split concerning support of the war effort among the various left leaning groups, Socialists and Communists, (eighteen members of the Socialist Workers party were arrested for not enlisting), but he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 for the 490th Bombardment Group. During his training to be bombardier he married his sweetheart, Roz in 1944. From then on until the end of the war, where he moved up to Second Lieutenant, he would carry out these missions over Europe, France with -- at first with zeal, then disdain. He came home with several Battle Stars and his Air Medal, but in later years recalled his experiences:
On a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 35,000 feet over Europe, the only person on the plane who really knows what is being bombed on the ground is the guy with the bombardier's telescope looking through the cross-hairs, at the rooftops of the towns and villages below, at the precise moment the bomb release lever is pulled.
Twelve hundred heavy bombers, and I was in one of them, flew over this little town of Royan and dropped napalm - first use of napalm in the European theater. And we don’t know how many people were killed or how many people were terribly burned as a result of what we did.
He was told before that last mission, (which might have been unnecessary because the war was almost over in April 1945), that his plane would be loaded with ordinance of thirty, one hundred pound canisters of jellied gasoline, replacing the regular bombs to be dropped on that German city of Royan. Those stationed at Wehrmacht troop location were killed by this substance which enhanced the fire. Of course today it is well known as napalm. It is a powdered mix consisting of aluminum soap of naphtenic acids (corrosives found in crude oil) and palmitic acids from coconut oil, harmless by themselves, to make a brown sticky slower burning petroleum that happens to be perfect for destroying personnel on the ground. Louis F. Fieser, who synthesized cortisone, led the Harvard team inventing it. It was safer for the planes because it detonated low on the ground. The modern version of napalm called B is a totally different material. As time went on he learned more and more about the consequences of this first use of napalm, which also killed a thousand French civilians.  It was an operation brainstormed to  merely bolster some officers' careers, and it increasingly sickened and angered Zinn.
You really haven't been a virgin for so long.
It's ludicrous to keep up the pretext.
You've slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows.
Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power

                                           --Langston Hughes
                               (quoted in Spelman Commencement Address, 2005)
Upon returning home, he stuffed his medals and papers in an envelope then into a folder labeled, "Never Again."

They tell me I am a member of the greatest generation. That’s because I saw combat duty as a bombardier in World War 2. But I refuse to celebrate “the greatest generation” because in so doing we are celebrating courage and sacrifice in the cause of war. And we are miseducating {sic} the young to believe that military heroism is the noblest form of heroism, when it should be remembered only as the tragic accompaniment of horrendous policies driven by power and profit. The current infatuation with World War 2 prepares us ~ innocently on the part of some, deliberately on the part of others ~ for more war, more military adventures, more attempts to emulate the military heroes of the past.
The term 'just war' contains an internal contradiction. War is inherently unjust, and the great challenge of our time is how to deal with evil, tyranny, and oppression without killing huge numbers of people.

Though he later dissed them, the army did have one great perk, the GI Bill. Before taking advantage of this educational opportunity, he had grueling small jobs, digging ditches and in working a brewery.  With wife Roz, he  endured rat infested apartments, then got somewhat of a break in finding public housing.  It must have been a wonderful day when he finished college and earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1949. He continued his expertise in history by getting a Master's, in 1952, then a Doctorate from Columbia in 1958. He turned in his PhD dissertation on Fiorello LaGuardia, after studying under several progressive teachers. One was Henry Steele Commager (1902 - 1998), who believed, "...the historian should sit in judgment," and "...the historian should write contemporary history." The other professor was Richard Hofstadter (1916 - 1970), who summarized that the evolution of America grew out of the Salem Witch Trials on down to the McCarthyism paranoia in the Post War years.

 Hofstadter's views in his later years moved in the direction of more mainstream liberal. (LaGuardia, that famous mayor of New York, would be the topic of his first book (of 20 lifetime) and honorable mention winner of the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Prize just a few years later in 1959. And his wife kidded him, "What are you, the Pope or Mao Tse-Tung?" He was ready to work in academia, and the Atlanta, Georgia all-black women's Spelman College (now with Atlanta University Center), where he assumed the chairmanship of the History and Social Sciences Department. Zinn had a profound effect on students, he was not shy as he stated at his first lecture, “Well, I stand to the left of Mao Zedong.”

It is true —
I've always loved
the daring
Like the Black young
Who tried
to crash
All barriers
at once,
  wanted to swim
At a white
beach (in Alabama)

              --Alice Walker (Summer 1965)
However, this environment also had an ever increasing radicalizing osmotic reaction on him. One famous student was Alice Walker, (The Color Purple ) who remembered that first class:
It was such a moment, because the people couldn't imagine anyone in Atlanta saying something like that, when at that time the Chinese and the Chinese Revolution just meant that, you know, people were on the planet who were just going straight ahead, a folk revolution. So he was saying he was to the left of that.
With others, like pupil Marian Wright (Children's Defense Fund) bending his ear, it was only natural that while in the South and getting to know intimately increasingly educated, but impatient Negroes, he became one of the two adult advisers in Selma, Alabama for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. And, even though he was not of African descent, he joined The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People.
...racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson in office, was looking the other way while Black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So Black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do — enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That's when democracy came alive.                                   -- excerpted from Howard Zinn's "Against Discouragement"
                                      Spelman College Commencement Address, May 2005
Zinn blatantly promoted the checking-out of books from the segregated public library, and he joined the students in their marches and sit-ins. This made the administration at Spelman way too nervous, and they fired him for insubordination in 1963. Even though he pleaded mea culpa, Alice Walker was hurt and recalled:
I wrote a letter to the administration that was published in the school paper pointing out the error of their decision. I wrote it through tears of anger and frustration. It was these tears, which appeared unannounced whenever I thought of this injustice to Howard and his family - whom I had met and also loved - that were observed by Staughton Lynd, who realized instantly that a) there was every chance I was headed toward a breakdown; and b) the administration would quickly find a reason to expel me from school.
Fortunately for Zinn, there was a position for him at Boston University, and thus in 1964 he became a professor of history and joined the Government Department. That year he relayed his southern experiences in, SNCC: The New Abolitionists, then The Southern Mystique, and a couple of years later, New Deal Thought. Professor Zinn showed how further left he was from the Democrats at this time:
At the great Washington March of 1963, the chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis, speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," was prepared to ask the right question: "Which side is the federal government on?" That sentence was eliminated from his speech by organizers of the March to avoid offending the Kennedy Administration. But Lewis and his fellow SNCC workers had experienced, again and again, the strange passivity of the national government in the face of Southern violence, strange, considering how often this same government had been willing to intervene outside the country, often with overwhelming force.

John Lewis and SNCC had reason to be angry. John had been beaten bloody by a white mob in Montgomery as a Freedom Rider in the spring of 1961. The federal government had trusted the notoriously racist Alabama police to protect the Riders, but done nothing itself except to have FBI agents take notes. Instead of insisting that blacks and whites had a right to ride the buses together, the Kennedy Administration called for a "cooling-off period," a moratorium on Freedom Rides. ...

Now, the Vietnam conflict would become a sore issue, and though Lyndon Johnson had become successful enacting some of John F. Kennedy's Civil Rights proposals, he escalated the situation in Vietnam where at first we had Special Forces advisors, to full blown military operations after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. His outspokenness started to ruffle Boston U's president, John Silber on many occasions who thought Zinn was one of those "...who poison the well of academe." He was not ashamed, in fact it would be their moral duty to making history an active force for change against evil. On the hot button issue of that current conflagration, he published in 1967, Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, and the next year, Disobedience and Democracy. He became a main player in the American Mobilization Committee's work to stop the US intervention in South East Asia.

  In 1968, when there was a need to secure a prisoner exchange in Hanoi, Zinn accompanied Father Daniel Berrigan, National Catholic Peace Fellowship sponsor, and co-founder of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam.  The three American Airmen POWs finally released during the Tet Offensive, in January of that year, were the first returned by North Vietnamese from all those involved in the U.S. air war started on them. Howard remained friends with Daniel, and his brother Phil for the rest of his life. Father Berrigan would later become more famous for being one of the Catonsville Nine on trial. The next person that was part of Zinn's circle was, Daniel Ellsberg, whom he met at Boston's Faneuil Hall in 1971 to protest the arrest of the conspirators to "kidnap Henry Kissinger, then headed down to Beantown's FBI office to make "citizens' arrests." Daniel Ellsberg used to be a Kennedy/Johnson 'hawk', but like so many others getting a nagging conscience became disillusioned and radicalized. Ellsberg in his fond memories of Howard wrote:

Later that spring, we went with our affinity group (including Noam Chomsky, Cindy Fredericks, Marilyn Young, Mark Ptashne, Zelda Gamson, Fred Branfman and Mitch Goodman), to the May Day actions blocking traffic in Washington (“If they won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government”). Howard tells that story in the film, and I tell it at greater length in my memoir, “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.”  But for reasons of space, I had to cut out the next section in which Howard—who had been arrested in D.C. after most of the rest of us had gone elsewhere—came back to Boston for a rally and a blockade of the Federal Building. I’ve never published that story, so here it is, an outtake from my manuscript:

He said, “If Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton had been walking the streets of Georgetown yesterday, they would have been arrested. Arrested for being young.” At the end of his comments, he said: “I want to speak now to some of the members of this audience, the plainclothes policemen among us, the military intelligence agents who are assigned to do surveillance. You are taking the part of secret police, spying on your fellow Americans. You should not be doing what you are doing. You should rethink it, and stop. You do not have to carry out orders that go against the grain of what it means to be an American.”

Those last weren’t his exact words, but that was the spirit of them. 

If the FBI was interested in Zinn in the late forties, they certainly have not given up their files during this juncture in the increasingly popular modern day Jeremiah. Zinn was jaded with this surveillance and quipped, "I have grown to depend on them for accurate reports on my speeches." Zinn and Ellsberg formed a new strong friendship from shared shedding of blood in that encounter which escalated into a violent confrontation with the police. A month later,  Ellsberg needed the Zinns to hide his papers that contained top secret, damaging and embarrassing information derived, while Daniel worked as an American military analyst for the Rand Corporation, and he remembered:
On Saturday night, June 12, 1971, we had a date with Howard and Roz to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in Harvard Square. But that morning I learned from someone at The New York Times that—without having alerted me—The Times was about to start publishing the top secret documents I had given them that evening. That meant I might get a visit from the FBI at any moment; and for once, I had copies of the papers in my apartment, because I planned to send them to Sen. Mike Gravel for his filibuster against the draft.

I had to get the documents out of our apartment. I called the Zinns, who had been planning to come by our apartment later to join us for the movie, and asked if we could come by their place in Newton Mass. instead. I took the papers in a box in the trunk of our car. They weren’t the ideal people to avoid attracting the attention of the FBI. Howard had been in charge of managing antiwar activist Daniel Berrigan’s movements underground while he was eluding the FBI for months (so from that practical point of view he was an ideal person to hide something from them), and it could be assumed that his phone was tapped, even if he wasn’t under regular surveillance. However, I didn’t know whom else to turn to that Saturday afternoon. Anyway, I had given Howard a large section of the study already, to read as a historian; he’d kept it in his office at Boston University. As I expected, they said yes immediately. Howard helped me bring up the box from the car.

We drove back to Harvard Square for the movie. The Zinns had never seen ‘Butch Cassidy’ before. It held up for all of us. Afterward we bought ice-cream cones at Brigham’s and went back to our apartment. Finally Howard and Roz went home before it was time for the early edition of the Sunday New York Times to arrive at the subway kiosk below the square. Around midnight Patricia and I went over to the square and bought a couple of copies. We came up the stairs into Harvard Square reading the front page, with the three-column story about the secret archive, feeling very good.

In 1979 Zinn had moved from ruffling feathers, to outright plucking as he was the co-chairman of the professors' strike committee and put on trial for violating the university's contract as one of the "Boston Five" who walked out; but the charges were dropped not long afterwards.  During the seventies wrote and published three books: The Politics of History (1970), Postwar America (1973), and Justice in Everyday Life (1974), but in 1980 he would unleash his most notable and controversial work,  A People's History of the United States. He really did not care if it was bashed as being revisionist, he felt he had to balance the hundreds of years of the portrayal of US history overlooking the evil-doing perpetuated.  He rebutted critics with,  "There's no such thing as a whole story; every story is incomplete. My idea was the orthodox viewpoint has already been done a thousand times."  This American narrative started out with only about four thousand copies, and eventually went on to sell over a million by 2003. Naturally, Noam Chomsky would laud it, "I can't think of anyone who had such a powerful and benign influence... His historical work changed the way millions of people saw the past."  

The harsher reviews came not just from those on the right, but from centrist liberals, who like New York Times' Eric Foner (who also studied under Richard Hofstadter,) lamented that the work was, "...a deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience..."  and additionally shortsighted that  "...blacks, Indians, women and labourers appear either as rebels or as victims. Less dramatic but more typical lives - people struggling to survive with dignity in difficult circumstances - receive little attention." Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., (1917 - 2007), though a liberal,  he was considered too much of a 'brown nose' biographer (JFK) and historian by the more left leaning contemporaries.  He thought of Zinn thus, "I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don't take him very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian."  Sean Wilentz, Professor of History at Princeton, official historian of Bob Dylan's website, and author of, Bob Dylan in America, commented on Zinn's history,

What Zinn did was bring history writing out of the academy, and he undid much of the frankly biased and prejudiced views that came before it. But he’s a popularizer, and his view of history is topsy-turvy, turning old villains into heroes, and after a while the glow gets unreal.
Zinn almost makes a confession from his 1994 autobiography, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train when he later reminisced"
From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.
The Chapter headings (from his 2003 update) reveal his focus:
1. Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress
2. Drawing the Color Line
3. Persons of Mean and Vile Condition
4. Tyranny Is Tyranny
5. A Kind of Revolution
6. The Intimately Oppressed
7. As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs
8. We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God
9. Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom
10. The Other Civil War
11. Robber Barons and Rebels
12. The Empire and the People
13. The Socialist Challenge
14. War Is the Health of the State
15. Self-help in Hard Times
16. A People's War?
17. Or Does It Explode?
18. The Impossible Victory: Vietnam
19. Surprises
20. The Seventies: Under Control?
21. Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus
22. The Unreported Resistance
23. The Coming Revolt of the Guards
24. The Clinton Presidency
25. The 2000 Election and the "War on Terrorism"

In 1986, after President Ronald Reagan bombed Libya, Zinn complained, "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable." Zinn continued with Boston University until 1988 when he retired. He had to go out in style so he cut short his class, and took with him a hundred students to a demonstration. He did remain their Professor Emeritus. Howard's two children are successful themselves, daughter Myla-Kabat is a parenting expert, and son Jeff, is active in the theater; as a matter of fact, Roz was an actress, and Howard Zinn wrote three plays. His first was Daughter of Venus, 1985, produced at New York's Theatre for New City. He followed that with Emma, about exiled 19th Century anarchist, Emma Goldman. For several years after its first staging, Marx in Soho, a story about if Karl went to New York instead of London, enjoyed years of engagements. The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy was out in 1997 relayed his thoughts from his early days to the present on race relations, class, war, law, history, and means and ends

The Zinn's in 2003, had some new neighbors in Newton, actor Matt Damon and family, and they became friends. That same spring of 2003, a book reading was held in NYC at the 92nd Street YMCA to celebrate the millionth copy of A People's History, was held at in New York City. Besides son Jeff, the some of the celebrities that attended were, Alice Walker, James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Kurt Vonnegut, Harris Yulin, Andre Gregory, Myla Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Alfre Woodard, and to top it, they had Howard Zinn narrate. Originally broadcasted on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, it can be watched on their website. A television adaptation of the book A People’s History of the United States, was co-produced by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris Moore for HBO as The People Speak and broadcast in December of 2009. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) who did the music joined Zinn as new-found friends.  Film screenwriter,  producer and director Oliver Stone and superstar "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen would also be in his circle of fans. May 14, 2008 was a sad day for Howard, as his beloved Roslyn succumbed to cancer: She had refused any treatments. Howard recounted some of this:

After she was diagnosed last July she decided immediately, firmly, that she would not have surgery or chemotherapy, that she would live out whatever time she had as peacefully and as enjoyably as possible. We spent August and part of September in Wellfleet, where she swam every day, where she read, listened to music, and we watched Red Sox games together. She said later that it was the happiest summer of her life. I stopped traveling and for the next six months we enjoyed a wonderful tranquility together. At the very end, lying in bed, she was concerned about me: would I have enough to eat? Would I be able to take care of myself?
In some of Zinn's last essays published, he warned about our present situations,

Did we “win” by going to war in Korea? The result was a stalemate, leaving things as they were before: a dictatorship in South Korea, a dictatorship in North Korea—but more than two million people, mostly civilians, were dead, and we dropped napalm on children, and 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives. Did we “win” in Vietnam? The answer is obvious. We were forced to withdraw, but only after two million Vietnamese died, again mostly civilians, again leaving children burned or armless or legless, and 58,000 American soldiers dead.

Did we “win” in the first Gulf War? Not really. Yes, we pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait with only a few hundred U.S. casualties, but we killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in the process. And the consequences were deadly for us: Saddam still in power, leading us to enforce economic sanctions that led to the deaths (according to U.N. officials) of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and setting the stage for another war.

In Afghanistan, we declared “victory” over the Taliban but the Taliban is back, with the attacks increasing, and our casualties in Afghanistan currently exceeding those in Iraq. What makes Obama think that sending more troops to Afghanistan will produce “victory”? And if it did, in an immediate military sense, how long would that last, and at what cost to human life on both sides?

The resurgence of fighting in Afghanistan is a good moment to reflect on the beginning of our involvement there. Let me offer some sobering thoughts to those who say, as many do: Attacking Iraq was wrong, but attacking Afghanistan was right. Go back to 9/11. Hijackers direct jet planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing close to 3,000 people. A terrorist act, inexcusable by any moral code. The nation is aroused. President Bush orders the invasion and bombing of Afghanistan, and the American public is swept into approval by a wave of fear and anger. Bush announces a “war on terror.” We are all (except for terrorists) against terror. So a war on terror sounds right. But there was a problem, which most Americans did not consider in the heat of the moment: We had no idea how to make war against terror; nor did Bush, despite his bravado.

Yes, Al Qaeda—a relatively small but ruthless group of fanatics—was apparently responsible. And there was evidence that its leaders, Osama Bin Laden and others, were based in Afghanistan. But we did not know exactly where. So we invaded and bombed the whole country. That made many people feel righteous: “We had to do something,” you heard people say. Yes, we had to do something. But not thoughtlessly, not recklessly. Would we approve a police chief, who, knowing there was a vicious criminal somewhere in a neighborhood, ordered that the neighborhood be bombed? There was soon a civilian death toll in Afghanistan of over 3,000—exceeding the number of deaths on 9/11. Numerous Afghans were driven from their homes, turned into wandering refugees.

It seems that Barack Obama and John McCain are arguing over which war to fight. McCain says: Keep the troops in Iraq until we “win.” Obama says: Withdraw some (not all) troops from Iraq and send them to fight and “win” in Afghanistan.

I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.
He received the Eugene V. Debs (five time Socialist Party Presidential candidate) award in 1998, for not only his writing, but especially for his political activism, and honored with the Foundation Literary Award for Nonfiction in 2006.   Ziga Vodovnik interviewed Howard Zinn and asked him about increasing globalization, and he answered:
I am an anarchist, and according to anarchist principles nation states become obstacles to a true humanistic globalization. In a certain sense the movement towards globalization where capitalists are trying to leap over nation state barriers, creates a kind of opportunity for movement to ignore national barriers, and to bring people together globally, across national lines in opposition to globalization of capital, to create globalization of people, opposed to traditional notion of globalization. In other words to use globalization – there is nothing intrinsically wrong with idea of globalization – in a way that bypasses national boundaries and of course that there is not involved corporate control of the economic decisions that are made about people all over the world.
Even though his official residence was Auburndale, Massachusetts he was swimming laps in Santa Monica, California on January 27, 2010. Though under attack from many sides, it was the one in his heart that day that ended his 87 years. Now one might think this would be the end to the furor, that was not to be, because after National Public Radio's All Things Considered eulogy the next day, folks' panties were all yanked up. Even though the broadcast featured words from Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond -- the host, Allison Keyes allowed David Horowitz, a Weatherman turned Neo-con, to have a 'rebuttal':
There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect, Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.