Banning Howard Zinn’s Books
by Stephen Lendman
Best remembered as an activist historian, scholar, educator, and author of numerous books, including his notable “People’s History of the United States,” Zinn died in January 2010 at age 87.
He impacted the lives of his students, readers and many others, including my own. He wrote about history too few others teach, never discussed by major media.
He spoke publicly at hundreds of meetings and rallies. When he began teaching, he said he “could not possibly keep out of the classroom (his) own experiences.”
He “never concealed (his) political views: (his) detestation of war and militarism, (his) anger at racial inequality, (his) belief in democratic socialism, in a rational and just distribution of the world's wealth.”
He “made clear (his) abhorrence of any kind of bullying, whether by powerful nations over weaker ones, governments over their citizens, employers over employees, or by anyone, on the Right or the Left, who thinks they have a monopoly on the truth.”
“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” he said, the title of one of his books, explaining “events are moving in certain deadly directions, and to be neutral means to accept that.”
He anguished over endless wars, violence harming millions, poverty, racism, information control through deception, and political hypocrisy.
Successive US administrations reflect new wine in old bottles. People want change, but feel powerless to achieve it, he explained.
Late in life, he said “(w)herever any kind of injustice has been overturned, it’s been because people acted as citizens, and not as politicians.”
“They didn’t just moan. They worked, they acted, they organized, they rioted if necessary to bring their situation to the attention of people in power. And that’s what we have to do today.”
In 2012, the Tucson, Arizona Unified School District banned his “People’s History of the United States,” ordering teachers to stop using it.
Arkansas State Rep. Kim Hendren introduced legislation to ban “study books or any other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn” from state public and charter schools.
He raised “concerns about some of the approaches (he took) in the books” he wrote, adding he wants to avoid “indoctrination” of one point of view.
The Zinn Education Project aims “to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula.”
It offered a free copy of Zinn’s People’s History to all Arkansas teachers requesting it. More than 250 asked to receive one.
The book was first published in 1980. Enlightened teachers make it assigned reading. More than two million copies were sold in five editions I’m aware of. I bought copies for myself and others.
Book banning doesn’t stop truth-telling. Zinn’s People’s History and other books he wrote remain popular for good reason.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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