Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HOWARD ZINN, August 24, 1922--January 27, 2010

I loved this man, and I had the pleasure to meet him years ago on Cape Cod, where he spent some of his summers.  He was a fierce advocate for truth, peace, and social justice.  There are very few people who we would want to have near us forever and ever.  For me, Dr. Zinn was one of them.  What will we do without him.

Damn.  Damn.  Damn.

By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

“His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives,” Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. “When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide.”

Dr. Zinn’s best-known book, “A People’s History of the United States” (1980), had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers — many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out — but rather the farmers of Shays’ Rebellion and the union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train” (1994), “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.”


Arthurstone said...

Too bad.

Zinn was a great guy. He was fearless and worked hard to remind Americans of unpleasantries we often had rather not consider.

Of course his work is anathema to our 'conservative' friends as Zinn was a champion of the underdog and a fierce critic of American exceptionalism in all it's myriad of expression.

I recommend a 'A People's History of the United States' to anyone who is seriously interested in learning just who we are as a nation and how we got here. It's a profoundly refreshing work and a wonderful antidote to the endless myths of the Founding Fathers, 'taming the west, manifest destiny, etc. etc. which have distorted our politics and our view of our role in the world since the founding of the republic.

A thoughtful, humble man who will be missed in this age of the Tea Bagger, talk radio, 24/7 'news' and conservative victimhood.

Though in all fairness he was one of the dullest public speakers I've ever heard. But that's a minor quibble.

Adios Howard.

Good work.

Oso said...

I didn't know he'd passed.I'd read his book on American history. Great man. He will be missed.

rockync said...

Do not cry because he is gone, but celebrate becuase he lived and gave so much.
He will be missed but his words and deeds will live forever.

Arthurstone said...

Probably would have been more posts about Zinn hereabouts (particularly from our conservative friends) if he had appeared on talk radio/TV all those years instead of teaching and writing books.

The thing is one has to make a bit of an effort.

And in this day and age it's so much easier to spin the dial and let electronic media wash over one.

Julie said...

How wonderful, no wonder he has such a good consciousness! I absolutely love you! Julie

Julie said...

How wonderful, no wonder he has such a good consciousness! I absolutely love you! Julie