Following "historian" Howard Zinn's recent death, Roger Kimball in National Review (2/22/2010) wrote of the enduring popularity of Zinn's anti-American screed "A People's History of The United States". Kimball's makes the following analogy to describe the book's slanted vision.
It is as if someone said to you, “Would you like to see Versailles?” and then took you on a tour of a broken shed on the outskirts of the palace grounds. “You see, pretty shabby, isn’t it?”
Aside from its distorted viewpoint, there are the book's outright lies. Kimball quoted a review by the esteemed historian, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin.
“It simply is not true,” Mr. Handlin noted, that “what Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots.” It simply is not true that the farmers of the Chesapeake colonies in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries avidly desired the importation of black slaves, or that the gap between rich and poor widened in the eighteenth-century colonies. Zinn gulps down as literally true the proven hoax of Polly Baker and the improbable Plough Jogger, and he repeats uncritically the old charge that President Lincoln altered his views to suit his audience. The Geneva assembly of 1954 did not agree on elections in a unified Vietnam; that was simply the hope expressed by the British chairman when the parties concerned could not agree. The United States did not back Batista in 1959; it had ended aid to Cuba and washed its hands of him well before then. “Tet” was not evidence of the unpopularity of the Saigon government, but a resounding rejection of the northern invaders."
Also on the occasion of Zinn's death, John Perazzo in a post on Frontpagemag.com summed up Zinn's book as follows.
At its root, A People’s History is a Marxist tract that paints the United States as the wellspring of earthly evil– a wretched embodiment of sexism, racism, and imperialism and a scourge not only to most of its own population, but also to a vast portion of humanity around the globe.
And Perazzo adds examples of Zinn's mendacity. Among them -
The Pilgrims who came to New England “were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians,” Zinn explained – portraying those natives essentially as a peaceful network of brothers who had long lived in idyllic harmony with one another, until the fateful moment when white “invaders” (as Zinn put it) first arrived on the shores of North America.
From Zinn’s account, one would never learn that the history of American Indians was replete with inter-tribal conflicts of great violence, or that slave-trafficking played a very significant role in a number of Indian societies. Indeed, long before the first Europeans arrived in the New World, an elaborate slave-trading network had developed among the Indians of the Northwest coast, where slaves constituted as much as 10 to 15 percent of some tribes’ populations. But in Zinn’s version of history, the only slavery that mattered was the white-on-black variety. The vices of nonwhites were deemed insufficiently interesting to merit mention. The lines between good and evil were drawn with clarity and boldness. There were no shades of gray; there was only white wrongdoing on the one hand, and the radiant goodness of nonwhites on the other.
A disturbingly large segment of the American populace has been duped by Zinn's lies and his bitter, distorted take on our country's character and legacy. Thirty years after it was first published, the paperback version of The People's History is ranked 184th on Amazon.com's best seller list. As Perazzo notes, it's required reading "in high schools and colleges across the United States, not only in history classes but also in such fields as economics, political science, literature, and women’s studies". It's one of the "501 Must Read Books", the colorful, glossy volume that ubiquitously occupies Borders' (and other booksellers') bargain bookshelves. That such a fraudulent tract manages to influence so many credulous minds helps explain much about the direction of politics in the country. Many prominent leftists were marinated in and subscribe to the Zinn (Chomsky-Said-Moore-et al) perspective, including our illustrious president.
For an accurate portrayal of our country's true character, read the op-ed in today's WSJ by Dorothy Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz denounces Hollywood types (the latest is Tom Hanks) and those in the media who see widespread anti-Muslim racism as the most notable response of Americans to the 9/11 attacks. Rabinowitz concludes her piece with an encounter she had with a cab driver from Pakistan.
...Five years or so after the terrorists drove their planes and passengers into the twin towers and the Pentagon, a cab driver from Pakistan remarked, as we drove past the rubble where the towers had stood, that he could never pass this place without trying to see them again in his mind. A painful effort, for all that it brought back. What was not painful, he added, was the memory of certain people in his neighborhood—a mixed but mostly white area of Queens, with many Italian-Americans, some Jews, and he thought some Irish. After the attacks, some of the men had come to him.
"My wife doesn't go out without a head cover," he explained. The men had come to tell him that if anyone bothered her, or his family, he must come to them.
"I must tell them and must not be afraid. Do you know," he said, in a voice suddenly sharp, "what would have happened if Americans had done this kind of attack in my country? Every American—every Christian, every non-Muslim—would have been slaughtered, blood would have run in the streets. I know the kind of country this is. Thanks be to God I can give this to my children."
Back to Kimball's article.
As Oscar Handlin observed in his review, “It would be a mistake . . . to regard Zinn as merely anti-American. Brendan Behan once observed that whoever hated America hated mankind, and hatred of humanity is the dominant tone of Zinn’s book."
And the dominant characteristic of America haters everywhere.