Zinn writes histories 2

Sin writes histories, goodness is silent – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Parents, beware of the history your children are being taught at school in America. In particular be on the alert for works by Howard Zinn. Here to explain why are two accounts of him and his aims:

From FrontPage, by David Horowitz:

Like [Noam] Chomsky, [Howard] Zinn has produced a corpus of work that is a cartoon version of American history in which the nation is pilloried as an evil empire. Zinn has even published a Chomsky-like tract of table talk on 9/11, blaming America and its alleged crimes in the Third World for the terrorist attack and characterizing the victim as a terrorist state. … His signature book, A People’s History of the United States is a raggedly conceived Marxist caricature that begins with Columbus and ends with George Bush. It has sold over a million copies, greatly exceeding that of any comparable history text. Like Chomsky’s rants, Zinn’s book has been embedded by leftist academics in the collegiate and secondary schools curricula. The New York Times Sunday Book Review gave it this imprimatur: “Historians may well view it as a step toward a coherent new version of American history.”  …

Like Chomsky, Zinn’s readership extends far into the popular culture as well. He was invoked as a “genius” by the lead character in the Academy Award winning film Good Will Hunting (the film’s co-writer and star Matt Damon grew up as a Zinn neighbor and enthusiast) and is an intellectual “guru” to movie and music celebrities. Both Chomsky and Zinn have been heavily promoted to rock music audiences by mega-bands Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam even while they are also icons of intellectual journals like The Boston Review of Books, which is edited by an MIT professor and Chomsky disciple.

The political agenda of A People’s History of the United States is already announced in its historical method. In an explanatory coda to his book Zinn explains to the reader that he has no interest in striving for objectivity, and that his intention is to view American history as a conspiracy of rich white men to oppress and exploit “the people.” The so-called “people” are naturally Indians and other minorities, especially blacks (“There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States”), women and the industrial proletariat.

Zinn begins his narrative not with the settling of North America, or the creation of the United States as one might expect, but with a long chapter on Columbus’s “genocide” against the native inhabitants, an event – which even if it had happened as Zinn describes it – was an act committed by agents of the Spanish empire more than a century before the English settled North America and nearly three centuries before the creation of the United States, which is also geographically well-removed from the scene of the crime. It is Zinn’s unintended way of announcing the tendentiousness of his entire project, which is really not a “history” of the American people, but an indictment of white people and the capitalist system.

From Townhall, by Michelle Malkin:

On Sunday, Dec. 13, the History Channel will air “The People Speak” — a documentary based on Marxist academic Howard Zinn’s capitalism-bashing, America-dissing, grievance-mongering history textbook, “A People’s History of the United States.” The film was co-produced and bankrolled by Zinn’s Boston neighbor and mentee Matt Damon. An all-star cast of Bush-bashing liberals, including Danny Glover, Josh Brolin, Bruce Springsteen, Marisa Tomei and Eddie Vedder, will appear. Zinn’s work is a self-proclaimed “biased account” of American history that rails against white oppressors, the free market and the military.

Zinn’s objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate “change” and nurture a political “counterforce” (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers’ proclamation of education as the “motor-force of revolution”). Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. “There is no such thing as pure fact,” Zinn asserts. Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to “empower” student collectivism by emphasizing “the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements.” School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of “social struggle.”

Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. “A people’s history requires a people’s pedagogy to match,” Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two “social justice” activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.

Rethinking Schools recently boasted of killing a social studies textbook series in the Milwaukee school system because it “failed to teach social responsibility.” A Rethinking Schools guide on the September 11 jihadi attacks instructs teachers to “nurture student empathy” for our enemies and dissuade students from identifying as Americans. “It’s our job to reach beyond this chauvinism.” And a Rethinking Schools guide to early childhood education written by Ann Pelo disparages “a too-heavy focus on academic skills” in favor of “social justice and ecological teaching” for preschoolers.

Teaching for Change’s objective, in Obama-esque fashion, is to train students not to achieve actual proficiency in core academic subjects, but to inspire them to “become active global citizens.” Today’s non-achieving aspirants are tomorrow’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, after all.

No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn’s partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers” — which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching:

“‘Rethinking Mathematics” is divided into four parts. The first part is devoted to a broad view of mathematics that includes historical and cultural implications. Part Two includes nine classroom narratives in which teachers describe lessons they have used that infuse social justice issues into their mathematics curriculum. Included here … an AP calculus lesson on income distribution. The third part contains three detailed classroom experiences/lessons. These include a physical depiction of the inequitable distribution of the world’s wealth, the results of a student investigation into how many U.S. presidents owned slaves, and a wonderful classroom game called ‘Transnational Capital Auction’ in which students take on the role of leaders of Third World countries bidding competitively for new factories from a multinational corporation. …

Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.

  • Mark Kemp

    “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.” — Howard Zinn

    Horowitz and Malkin take Zinn so far out of context, they're the ones who are caricatures.

    • C. Gee

      So what did Zinn choose to emphasize in his complex history of America in your view?