Published in The Progressive • June 1, 2000
A high school student recently confronted me: “I read in your book A People’s History of the United States about the massacres of Indians, the long history of racism, the persistence of poverty in the richest country in the world, the senseless wars. How can I keep from being thoroughly alienated and depressed?”
It’s a question I’ve heard many times before. Another question often put to me by students is: Don’t we need our national idols? You are taking down all our national heroes- the Founding Fathers, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy.
Granted, it is good to have historical figures we can admire and emulate. But why hold up as models the fifty-five rich white men who drafted the Constitution as a way of establishing a government that would protect the interests of their class-slaveholders, merchants, bondholders, land speculators?Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • May 7, 2000
Recently, meeting with a group of high school students, I was asked by one of them: “I read in your book, A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, about the massacres of Indians, the long history of racism, the persistence of poverty in the richest country in the world, the senseless wars. How can I keep from being thoroughly alienated and depressed?”
That same question has been put to me many times, in different forms, one of them being: “How come you are not depressed?”
Who says I’m not? At least briefly.Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • March 9, 2000
As the twentieth century came to an end last December, an extraordinary man, whose life spanned the century, died at the age of ninety-seven. His name was Sender Garlin. I first met Sender, ten years before his death, when he was only eighty-seven years old. It was the fall of 1989, and I had traveled to Boulder to give a talk at the University of Colorado. One of the chief organizers of my stay was a man named Sender Garlin, a longtime radical journalist and pamphleteer. I did not know him, and so I was not prepared for the excitement of my encounter with him.
Published in The Progressive • January 1, 2000
What happened in Seattle recently was not as large an event as the general strike of 1919. But it showed how apparently powerless people—if they unite in large numbers—can stop the machinery of government and commerce. In an era when the power of government, and of multinational corporations, is overwhelming, it is instructive to get even a hint of how fragile that power is when confronted by organized, determined citizens.
Published by ZCommunications • December 22, 1999
In the spirit of killing two obligations with one effort, I offer as my Commentary a response I just made to a letter by a retired professor in California, who wrote:
“As a great admirer of Howard Zinn [should he have said “as a former great admirer…”?] I was profoundly disappointed by some of his comments made during his interview with David Barsamian [I blame Barsamian for losing me an admirer] in the March issue of Z Magazine.” [You can see how long it takes me to respond to critical letters—I simply don’t want to believe that any rational person can disagree with me].
Without reproducing my correspondent’s letter I think the gist of his comments are clear from my responses. Fundamentally, he did not like my saying I was “very glad” the rule of the Soviet government ended. He took issue with my skepticism about violent revolutions. He made interesting, provocative, thoughtful arguments. My response…Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • December 22, 1999
Some years ago, when I was teaching at Boston University, I was asked by a Jewish group to give a talk on the Holocaust. I spoke that evening, but not about the Holocaust of World War II, not about the genocide of six million Jews. It was the mid-Eighties, and the United States government was supporting death squad governments in Central America, so I spoke of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peasants in Guatemala and El Salvador, victims of American policy. My point was that the memory of the Jewish Holocaust should not be encircled by barbed wire, morally ghettoized, kept isolated from other genocides in history. It seemed to me that to remember what happened to Jews served no important purpose unless it aroused indignation, anger, action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world.
A few days later, in the campus newspaper, there was a letter from a faculty member who had heard me speak — a Jewish refugee who had left Europe for Argentina, and then the United States. He objected strenuously to my extending the moral issue from Jews in Europe in the 1940s to people in other parts of the world, in our time.Read More...
Pubilshed by ZCommunications • December 22, 1999
…it suggested…how apparently powerless people, if they unite in large numbers, can bring the machinery of government and commerce to a halt.
Published at ZCommunications • November 25, 1999
The president of Boston University makes $300,000 a year. Does he work harder than the man who cleans the offices of the university? Talent and hard work are qualitative factors which cannot be measured quantitatively. Since there is no way of measuring them quantitatively we accept the measure given us by the very people who benefit from that measuring!
Published by ZCommunications • July 16, 1999
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…
Published in The Progressive • July 2, 1999
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.
Published by ZCommunications • May 25, 1999
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.
What are the political implications of cyberspace? What role is the United States playing in Russia’s current crises? After its rise and fall, is the labor movement on the rise once again? What are the origins of corporate… Read More
Published in The Progressive • May 2, 1999
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.Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • March 7, 1999
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!
The Progressive • October 2, 1998
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.
Today we play for you a very powerful speech Howard Zinn gave just a few weeks ago at the Project Censored Awards in New York City, awards given to journalists who wrote stories censored or un-covered by the… Read More
Today we’re going to play a speech he gave in California for the founding convention of the Alliance, a political movement led by Ronnie Dugger. HOWARD ZINN: After you lived a little and struggled a little and been… Read More
The leader of the movement to look at history from the perspective of people of color and the powerless in our society is Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to the Present…. Read More
Published by the Boston Globe • June 2, 1976
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.Read More...