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  #1  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:30 PM
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Howard Zinn is dead

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/us/28zinn.html
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  #2  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:43 PM
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Initial reaction: Who?

After reading:

Quote:
Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose book “A People’s History of the United States” became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts...
Most of the mainstream texts are already slanted to the left. Why would you want something even more biased?

Quote:
In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Professor Zinn acknowledged that he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one.
I admire his honesty.
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  #3  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:48 PM
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He wrote a great short essay in the early 90's on history and objectivity, called "Objections to Objectivity". It appeared in Z magazine and in a later anthology of his, 'Declarations of Independence'.
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Last edited by kerry; 01-28-2010 at 10:01 AM.
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  #4  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippy View Post
Initial reaction: Who?

After reading:



Most of the mainstream texts are already slanted to the left. Why would you want something even more biased?



I admire his honesty.
I think you should do some research for yourself on this matter, or at least stop taking everything given to you by talk radio and Faux News as gospel.

The content of textbooks has been controlled by the state of Texas for so long that there is a distinct right wing bias to math books.
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  #5  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:54 PM
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I think I understand the POV of his critics somewhat but I appreciate Prof. Zinn. The teary eyed fondness for the wonderful legacy of all things European American needed a bit of deflating when Zinn happened along.

The lust of Columbus and gang for fast wealth has been a sorry legacy for America through the centuries. Just go in, rip it up and don't let the whining of the damned natives slow you down.

The last paragraphs of that piece are sorta in line with what I'm starting to feel:

One of Professor Zinn’s last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration.

“I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote, adding that he wasn’t disappointed because he never expected a lot from President Obama.

“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 — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”
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  #6  
Old 01-27-2010, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippy View Post
Initial reaction: Who?
But now you're an expert on him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippy View Post
Most of the mainstream texts are already slanted to the left. Why would you want something even more biased?
No they're not. They're slanted to the right. Prove me wrong.
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  #7  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
But now you're an expert on him.
No they're not. They're slanted to the right. Prove me wrong.
I think one has to take into account the era during which Zinn began writing his take on history ... history textbooks were for a long time essentially promotional material for the United States and were written as such. I wouldn't say they were "right wing" because for a long time, that sort of mind-set was the only wing. Zinn's attempt to consider that there may be more than one, flattering version of history was, at one time, somewhat of a breakthrough. I'm a capitalist and I hated People's History ... but at the same time, I do think it was important in shaping a wider consideration of the country's history, the nature of mankind, and as such, the future. I didn't personally share Zinn's beliefs, but I am glad I was forced to read his book in college ... it didn't change my mind on very much, but it gave me plenty to think about, and also made me consider the history of history. I'm young, so by the time I hit school, liberal was all the rage. I thought that was awful. But the America-as-hero attitude projected in history classes before Zinn came on the scene was pretty awful, too. I'm not going to write a dirge or anything, but as a conservative who likes to hear intelligent and passionate analysis from other points of view, I will certainly tip my cap to him.
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  #8  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:24 PM
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This is sad news. He was a great American author and citizen. I would have liked to have met him.
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  #9  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BodhiBenz1987 View Post
I think one has to take into account the era during which Zinn began writing his take on history ... history textbooks were for a long time essentially promotional material for the United States and were written as such. I wouldn't say they were "right wing" because for a long time, that sort of mind-set was the only wing. Zinn's attempt to consider that there may be more than one, flattering version of history was, at one time, somewhat of a breakthrough. I'm a capitalist and I hated People's History ... but at the same time, I do think it was important in shaping a wider consideration of the country's history, the nature of mankind, and as such, the future. I didn't personally share Zinn's beliefs, but I am glad I was forced to read his book in college ... it didn't change my mind on very much, but it gave me plenty to think about, and also made me consider the history of history. I'm young, so by the time I hit school, liberal was all the rage. I thought that was awful. But the America-as-hero attitude projected in history classes before Zinn came on the scene was pretty awful, too. I'm not going to write a dirge or anything, but as a conservative who likes to hear intelligent and passionate analysis from other points of view, I will certainly tip my cap to him.
What I find interesting is that his approach was such that I have found other people who didn't share his views be willing to read his work. The more intelligent folk at least appreciated his intelligence and sincerity.
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  #10  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:34 PM
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What I find interesting is that his approach was such that I have found other people who didn't share his views be willing to read his work. The more intelligent folk at least appreciated his intelligence and sincerity.
Exactly. I'll admit there were times I wanted to throw the book out my dorm window ... but for the most part, I was able to settle into it and accept it as a different but still insightful perspective. I did not feel that he forced me to agree with his feelings, rather, just asked that I consider them. Too few people take that approach to sharing their views.
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  #11  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BodhiBenz1987 View Post
I think one has to take into account the era during which Zinn began writing his take on history ... history textbooks were for a long time essentially promotional material for the United States and were written as such. I wouldn't say they were "right wing" because for a long time, that sort of mind-set was the only wing.
I suspect that textbooks in common usage for the decades prior to Zinn had generally a pro national, pro American POV that ran pretty deep.

That's not a bad thing but some balance and self-criticism can be a good thing.
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  #12  
Old 01-27-2010, 11:44 PM
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I think his attitude arose from the fact that he considered it impossible to write objective history. History was always written from a point of view and reflected a set of social values. The fact that this was not acknowledged by the standard history books amounted to a kind of propaganda. As a result he seemed always redy to acknowledge the subjectivity of his own histories while pointing out that this did not make them inferior to other histories.
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  #13  
Old 01-28-2010, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kerry View Post
I think his attitude arose from the fact that he considered it impossible to write objective history. History was always written from a point of view and reflected a set of social values. The fact that this was not acknowledged by the standard history books amounted to a kind of propaganda. As a result he seemed always redy to acknowledge the subjectivity of his own histories while pointing out that this did not make them inferior to other histories.
yes. well put. (and a great loss)

p.s. studs terkel is another good source for alternate takes on history. (but you probably already know that.
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:33 AM
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"mainstream texts" that's a new one.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2010, 07:49 AM
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having been compelled to read his work during university, and listening to some classmates refer to him almost as they would a deity, all I can say is goodbye sir, I am glad that you are gone....
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