Huffpost Denver
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sean Paige Headshot

Revisionist RIP

Posted: Updated:

I take no personal delight in the death of histrionic "historian" Howard Zinn, despite the unhealthy and warping influence his revisionist, left-leaning textbooks have had on an untold number of American school kids. I only wish his People's History of the United States could so easily be expunged from school curricula across the country.

The propaganda will outlive the propagandist, unfortunately. That's what I'm really grief-stricken over.

So far out of the mainstream was Zinn's interpretation of U.S. history that even the late Arthur Schlesinger Jr. -- no slouch as a liberal -- called Zinn a "polemicist, not a historian." Yet that never prevented Zinn's texts from winning wide acceptance among educrats, who inflicted his politically-motivated distortions on impressionable young minds. He also developing a cult following among the fashionably left wing, including fellow revisionist Oliver Stone, as the following write-up indicates.

From the Associated Press:

"Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist "A People's History of the United States" sold millions of copies to become an alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

[...] At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, "A People's History" told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

Even liberal historians were uneasy with Zinn. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once said: "I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don't take him very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian."

In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Zinn acknowledged he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one. He called his book a response to traditional works, the first chapter -- not the last -- of a new kind of history.

"There's no such thing as a whole story; every story is incomplete," Zinn said. "My idea was the orthodox viewpoint has already been done a thousand times." [...]

That Zinn became the teacher of so many American students is another indictment of a system that often seems more interested in political indoctrination than real education.