We’ve all heard about the impact of “fake news,” but there’s something even more dangerous: teaching “fake history.”
“If you think that it is outrageous that Democratic presidential candidates want to eliminate the southern border and that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls our detention facilities there ‘concentration camps,’ then you haven’t been reading and believing Howard Zinn’s best-selling ‘A People’s History of the United States,’” writes Mary Grabar, Ph.D.
First published in 1980, “A People’s History” has sold more than 2.5 million copies and is in virtually every school district, university and local library.
Zinn (1922-2010) chaired the history and social sciences departments at Spelman College (which he helped radicalize), and was a political science professor at Boston University.
“A People’s History” paints America as a darkly evil nation whose every advance came at others’ expense. In 2007, “A Young People’s History of the United States” was published in two volumes (“Columbus to the Spanish-American War” and “Class Struggle to the War on Terror”).
In her long-needed and extensive corrective, “Debunking Howard Zinn” (Regnery 2019), Ms. Grabar provides numerous examples of Zinn’s revisionism:
- America discoverer Christopher Columbus? A genocidal maniac, driven by lust for gold and murder. Zinn juxtaposed passages from Columbus’s diaries to construct outright lies about him.
-The English settlers at Jamestown, Virginia and Plymouth, Massachusetts? Perpetrators of “genocide.”
- America’s founders? Greedy exploiters who fought a revolution not for liberty but for their own class-driven acquisition of wealth and power.
-The United States in World War II? No better than Hitler’s Germany or Japan. In fact, America fought only because our “main interest was not stopping Fascism but advancing the imperial interests of the United States.”
--The Marshall Plan, in which the United States spent billions restoring war-torn Europe? The real purpose was “to creat[e] a network of American corporate control over the globe.”
--America’s internment of Japanese-Americans during the war? No different from Hitler’s extermination camps, in which six million Jews were systematically murdered.
-- North Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh? A people’s leader and liberator.
Everything Zinn wrote was couched in the language of Marxist class warfare. Key events were omitted. The mass slaughter that followed the Communist takeover of Cambodia? Good luck finding it in “A People’s History.” Like his fellow communist historians in Moscow, Mr. Zinn conveniently “disappeared” the more than two million murdered by Cambodia’s Communist dictator Pol Pot.
Zinn was a member of numerous Soviet front groups, and he helped found the socialist New Party, which helped Barack Obama launch his political career. Zinn mentored a young neighbor in Connecticut, Matt Damon, who went on to be a move star, and who plugged “A People’s History” in his film “Good Will Hunting.”
Zinn helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a communist organization that undermined the non-communist National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and instigated political violence.
As for fake history, “Zinn did everything – misrepresented sources, omitted critical information, falsified evidence, and plagiarized,” Grabar writes. “Zinn liked to pretend [that] he wrote a ‘people’s’ history, telling the bottom-up story of neglected and forgotten men and women. The problem is that he falsified American history to promote Communist revolution. …all the while denying that he was a Communist.”
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Zinn warned that concern over communism was due to “hysteria,” and he denied that there was any worldwide movement anchored in the USSR and Communist China.
In 1967, he lectured that, “We need to get accustomed to the idea that there will be more Communist countries in the world, and that this is not necessarily bad.”
In a chapter entitled “The Coming Revolt of the Guards,” a term that includes homeowners, taxpayers and other middle-class folk, Zinn states flatly that “capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle class.”
That would be news to a lot of people. Most of America’s poor live better than billions of people around the world who don’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, televisions, cars, smartphones, access to medical care and dentistry and other modern advances.
After this predicted “revolt,” Zinn envisions a utopian future in which “certain basic things” would be “taken out of the money system and be available – free – to everyone: food, housing, health care, education, transportation.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because leading Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are promising the same pie-in-the-sky results to their Free Stuff Army. To pay for it, both plan massive tax increases on what’s left of the private sector.
The reason this insane, economically illiterate, un-American scheme appeals to so many is that they’ve been miseducated via Howard Zinn into thinking that they live in a bad country that must be rebuilt as a socialist paradise.
“A People’s History of the United States” should be taken out of the schools and relegated, like “The Communist Manifesto,” to libraries.
But there should be a copy of “Debunking Howard Zinn” right next to it.
Robert Knight is a Townhall contributor.