If you’re wondering why so many young Americans seem to hate their country, I have a simple, two-word answer for you: Howard Zinn.
In 1980, Zinn, a professor at Boston University and avowed Communist, published what would become one of the most popular and frequently cited “history” books of all time.
Titled “A People’s History of the United States,” it purports to look at our past “from the other side” — that is, from the perspective of “the people” rather than the vantage point of “privilege.”
In the process of creating his “alternative history,” Zinn trashes many of America’s most famous figures — nearly all of them white males — including Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR, just to name a few.
According to Zinn, all were racist, misogynistic authoritarians bent on consolidating their own power by oppressing the masses.
Because “A People’s History” is widely used in high school and college courses, that is the “history” many of today’s young people were exposed to. No wonder they think this country is so terrible.
However, Zinn’s version of events contains several problems of its own, as my friend and former colleague Dr. Mary Grabar outlines brilliantly in her new book, “Debunking Howard Zinn.”
Not only is Zinn’s scholarship shoddy, she reveals, but much of the book is borderline plagiarized, with Zinn “borrowing” heavily from fellow leftist historians in constructing his narrative.
Moreover, ”People’s History” isn’t really an objective history at all. Rather, it reads more like political propaganda. As Grabar notes, even liberal scholar Arthur Schlesinger referred to Zinn as “a polemicist, not a historian.”
One of Zinn’s most dubious “achievements” involves his savaging of Columbus, whom he depicts as a genocidal racist intent on destroying or enslaving the first people he encountered in the New World, the gentle Arawaks.
This Marxist fable ignores the warlike nature of the Arawaks themselves. But more importantly, it twists the facts to fit Zinn’s anti-Western world view.
The truth, as Grabar demonstrates in her painstakingly researched, engagingly written tome, is that Columbus was primarily concerned with converting the Arawaks to Christianity — which may or may not be a worthwhile endeavor, depending on your point of view. But it’s a far cry from slaughtering them.
Moreover, when Zinn quotes Columbus as saying the Arawaks “would make fine servants,” he conveniently omits all-important context: Columbus was actually referring, in that passage, to the native tribes’ custom of capturing and enslaving each other.
That’s just one example of the world-class debunking that occurs with regularity throughout Grabar’s masterly “Debunking Howard Zinn.” But don’t just take my word for it. Buy the book on Amazon and read it yourself.
Then, if you have children in high school, you’ll be better equipped to counter the false narrative they’re being fed.
And if you have millennial-age children, buy them a copy. I don’t know of a better antidote for Zinn’s poison.