Articles by Howard Zinn
For those not in the know, let me explain that we who write for the progressive-radical movement have our specialties. Some specialize in writing depressing stuff. Others write humorous pieces. Some concentrate on trashing other Left writers. It seems that there was an opening this month for someone to inspire, and I was chosen. Not an easy job, when the United States government has just finished dropping thousands of cluster bombs on Yugoslavia…
Official terrorism, whether used abroad or at home, by jet bombers or by the police, always receives an opportunity to explain itself in the press, as ordinary terrorism does not.
I get e-mail messages from Yugoslav opponents of Milosovic, who demonstrated against him in the streets of Belgrade (before the air strikes began), who tell me their children cannot sleep at night, terrified by the incessant bombing. They tell of the loss of light, of water, of the destruction of the basic sources of life for ordinary people.
A friend wrote to ask my opinion on Kosovo. He said many people were turning to him for answers, and he didn't know what to say, so he was turning to me (knowing, I guess, that I always have something to say, right or wrong). Several things seem clear to me, and they don't fit easily together in a way that points to a clean solution.
Before I became a college professor I was a shipyard worker. Before I was a writer I was a warehouse worker. But whatever I did, I was always a member of a labor union. I think the only job I had where I couldn’t join a union was when I was a bombardier in the Air Force — and it might have been a good thing if we had one — maybe we would have gotten together and asked the question: Why are we dropping bombs on this peaceful village this morning?
You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted to this awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison to those who have power? It’s easy. First, don’t let "those who have power" intimidate you.…Second, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but who also have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
I was angry…because I did not want the suffering of men in war to be used—yes, exploited—in such a way as to revive what should be buried along with all those bodies in Arlington Cemetery: the glory of military heroism.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land. It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause. It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President. There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day.