Thursday, January 28, 2010

One less truth teller

Noted historian Howard Zinn has died at age 88. Zinn was both celebrated by some and reviled by others for the exact same reason: his accounts of American history took the unusual and politically incorrect path of trying to tell the whole truth, rather than the convenient, sanitized version. Needless to say, his voice will be missed.

9 comments:

PCS said...

A good journalist might have added a quick link Kazin's criticisms of Zinn's book. Kazin writes "...[Zinn] makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live." An especially relevant question today.

Brian said...

A good journalist might not have been aware of said criticism in order to link to it.

A commenter who quotes directly from said criticism surely could have.

PCS said...

And that is the problem with the news media today. No time to look into anything in any type of depth. And why should you expect me to do your work. There is something called 'Google'.

Brian said...

YOU were the one who thought it relevant to raise this person's criticism of Zinn. So YOU do your own work and provide the link to enlighten people, assuming that enlightening people was your intention.

The sole purpose of this piece was to report on the fact of his death. In this blog primarily of commentary not news or original journalism, this entry also failed to include Zinn's marital status, his alma maters, his first job, his parents' occupations and the breed of his childhood dog. I apologize for all said omissions.

They are, respectively: widower; NYU and Columbia; fighter pilot in WWII; factory workers; and not sure but will try to find out if you feel this is compelling to you.

PCS said...

So let me get this straight. It's ok for you to come over to my blog in the morning and write a snarky, critical comment on something I posted. But when I do the same, it's not ok?

Brian said...

You can leave a snarky comment if you want. I publish any comment that isn't libelous. Just don't be surprised by a response.

You certainly didn't leave my comment on your blog unchallenged and that's "ok" too.

My point is if you want to be snarky, then be straight forward about it. Don't hide behind the pretense of wanting to expand the discussion.

Frankly, I think Kazin's question is much more worthy of further discussion than what has happened here.

So what do you think of his remarks?

PCS said...

Well, I've never read Zinn's book so I guess I'll have to do that before I decide whether Kazin's criticisms hold any water. But Kazin does seem to ask a good question.

Brian said...

Zinn's written a number of books. His most famous and influential is A People's History of the United States. I haven't read it either (it's on my ever expanding to-read list for some time) but I have read some of Zinn's essays and the like.

http://site.booksite.com/7226/showdetail/?isbn=9780060838652

Matt Funiciello said...

Well, I read People's History when I was about 22 and I have since given away about 30 copies of it. It is history from the working class' perspective and it is (next to "Labor's Untold Story") some of best (American) history I have ever read. Most history leaves out (entirely) the perspective of those killed, raped, shackled and imprisoned in the building of an empire and focused instead on the revisionist stories told by the pigs who did the evil in the first place.

To answer Kazin's rather sophomoric question, I will ask another ... Why have most Americans accepted the toxic waste and sugar water sold at McDonald's as if it were actually food? Why do most Americans buy cheap slave-made goods from China at their friendly neighborhood WalMart? Why do most Americans unquestioningly accept that 9/11 happened exactly the way the Fed claim that it did?

Although these questions were meant to be rhetorical, I just have to answer. It seems obvious that the "most Americans" Kazin refers to are simpletons who don't read and who lack even the most basic self-awareness which might cause them to question an economic and political system (corporate rule) that regularly engages in physical and economic genocide in their collective name.

The fact that the average American watches Idol instead of learning about the systems that they live under shows that we have come world's away from Zinn's beautiful book and its inspiring message ... that things were often terrible in our nation's past things as well and we managed to organize to fight then (and sometimes we even won).