Thursday, June 05, 2003

More striking than Zinn’s inaccuracies—intentional and otherwise—is what he leaves out.

Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate all fail to merit a mention. Nowhere do we learn that Americans were first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon. Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers are entirely absent. Instead, the reader is treated to the exploits of Speckled Snake, Joan Baez, and the Berrigan brothers. While Zinn sees fit to mention that immigrants often went into professions like ditch-digging and prostitution, American success stories like those of Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, and Louis B. Mayer—to name but a few—are excluded. Valley Forge rates a single fleeting reference, while D-Day’s Normandy invasion, Gettysburg, and other important military battles are left out. In their place, we get several pages on the My Lai massacre and colorful descriptions of U.S. bombs falling on hotels, air-raid shelters, and markets during the Gulf War of the early 1990s.

How do students learn about U.S. history with all these omissions? They don’t.

From a 100% brilliant article at FrontPage Magazine. Read the whole thing.
I must insert a note of autobiography here: the truth is that Howard Zinn made me a conservative. Back in my communist days all my friends were telling me to read the "Peoples" History, so finally I bought the damn thing and sat down to read all 1000 or so pages of it, and a strange thing happened. I cant explain why, because at the time I was completely in agreement with everything it said, but it horrified me. There was something about the unrelenting monochromity of its ideology, the ferocity of its slander and invective, the relentless, inconcievably uniform conclusions. Everytime it was the evil American capitalists doing evil capitalist things, every enemy of America - even the Nazis who could have slaughtered my grandparents - was exonerated by default, everytime America was wrong, brutal, greedy, barbarous, violent. Everyone who disagreed with Zinn's ideology was corrupted, vile, marked for condemnation...after 300 pages I threw it across the room in disgust. It was what an alcoholic might call a moment of clarity, and I began the slow shift in my political opinions that brought me here today. So thank you Howard, you lying, malevolent, neo-Nazi bastard, I couldn't have done it without you.


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