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Stick with Zinfandel

I never had any use for Howard Zinn, who died yesterday; I always said I preferred zinfandel when someone asked.  But check out what he has to say about Obama in the latest issue of The Nation!  Key sentence:

I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president. . .
Categories > History

Discussions - 8 Comments

Zinn was a disgraceful historian and a radical nut. He's inspired a mini-industry to America-hating books which have tragically filtered down to our schools as teachers and the likes of Matt Damon are enthralled by his radical "other side of history" critique. Good riddance.

The progressive historian Michael Kazin offered withering criticism of Zinn (whose work was the intellectual basis for Ward Churchill's defense of the 9/11 bombings):

The spirit of Zinn's history-writing was awful, and worse worse worse is the way his main book, A People's History of the United States has been bought and cherished and dessiminated by the various ed-school and diversity/sensitivity bureacrats over the years, with great success. Every Barnes and Nobles has at least ten copies of the book. Sad to think of all the minds deluded and weakened by them.

I do however, find some chapters of the Peoples History to have SOME value. Maybe these are flawed impressions coming out of my once-leftist days, but here goes.

---The famous opening chapter on Columbus and the Indians can be described as Las Casas on steroids, but wasn't Las Casas was correct about the main facts? The Italian-American inspired lionization of Columbus that became ensconced in the general American mythology never to my knowledge faced up to the problem of Columbus' immediate aftermath for the natives of the Caribbean Sea. This meant that Zinn's dramatic revealing of it had shocking novelty to most of his readers, and provided a credibility to his whole stance of "the real history they don't want you to know." Thus was the groundwork for Zinn's later slanders of Washington and other really key American figures laid.

--I'm certainly don't trust the overall account given in his chapters about the late-1800s and early 1900s labor movement in America--given Zinn's other tricks I'd expect real problems there that I'd notice if I knew the historical literature for the period, Still, I do feel I had learned something significant from them, and that the picture we sometimes form of a placid America of the 1880s-1929 has to be significantly qualified by the labor broils revealed therein. I.e., Zinn gives you a populist Old Left history of those broils, and its a necessary perspective. What's more, Zinn seems to really know it--my recollection of those chapters is that they contain far fewer tricks and gotcha moments.

--the chapter on the various 60s "awakenings" is bad, but it can have the merit of allowing you to imaginatively see things from the mad leftist prespective that drove so many of the events. Some of that touchingly Baez/early Dylan New Left innocence is afoot in that chapter. Of course, Zinn was very Old Left in his mindset, and so he transforms it that way.

Overall, though, his epitah should read:

A million young minds ripe
to disdain hypocrisy and clap-trap,
I got them, self-congradulating,
to repeat after me:
"Hey, I was never told about THAT!"

And so may History, the only divinity,
Damn America Yet.

You prefer zinfandel ??!!! LOL, ROFL - Dang, what a comic zinger that is! (Are you sure you didn't write for that FoxNews "Half-Hour Comedy Hour" or whatever it was called?)

As for Zinn's assessment of Obama, chalk him up as yet another leftist not pleased by wild leftist Obama....

Reading about Kazin motivated me to check out Dissent's website, where I found this great article, skewering the Right's NLT-ish response to Ken Burns' "National Parks" docu.:

Here's a revealing tidbit from a commenter over at Michelle Malkin's site: "Also, beyond the high-fallutin’ talk about how he taught history, Zinn was known as an easy ‘A’ at BU."

Can't you just imagine the stacks of dutifully regurgitating essay exams and papers accumulated for decades, perhaps piled up yellowing somewhere in Zinn's home or office? And how many of those naive or even insincerely naive little essay denunciations of the capitalist system, the inherent racism of the West, etc., would today be affirmed by their now grown-up authors?

The man thought he was keeping the leftist hope alive through his educating...there's hope for the next generation! ...Millions of copies sold!

And next generation after next, if this Malkin commenter is correct, they were saying: "easy A."

His readers, voluntary and teacher-forced, by and large gleaned mistrust and cyncism from his teachings, at least the many of them who did not reject them outright. So very few became leftist true-believers, and those who did often seem as addled as Ward Churchill. Yes, I suppose a good number of the shallow Obama youth of today had their generalized antipathy to market freedom and U.S. foreign policy partly shaped by Zinn and his followers, but Obama-girls do not a socialist future make.

Lots of denunciations of his work today, most of them just, but as I think about it I find myself more in sorrow than in anger for his sort of thorough delusion.


Oops, that "anonymous," c'est moi!

Because leftists are angry with Obama does not mean, as you imply, that Obama is not leftist. It means that practical governing will not let him be.

Huh?!? Oh, I see. So, even though he might actually be a committed leftist (i.e. - socialist, communist, fascist, terrorist-symp, etc.), the realities of "practical governing" prevent him from actually bringing any of his wild-eyed, radical policies to fruition? The leftists got a leftist president, but he just can't give them what they all want. But, if Obama is a leftist who actually recognizes and acquiesces to the tempering, moderating demands of "practical governing" shouldn't that be very much to his credit, in your eyes? Surely a radical leftist (and frankly, since when did conservatives start making such nuanced distinctions? - again, see Goldberg's book) would just plow ahead, practical realities be damned.

If this is so (and I don't think it is - more like absurdist fantasy IMHO), then the right should rethink their animosity towards Big Government, which presumably is a primary source of this irresistible force.

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