Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bad Theater, pt 4

I don't normally like to do two "Bad Theaters" so close to one another, but 'when Howard Zinn comes to SF with a bunch of actors to read "inspiring passages from "A People's History of the United States," well...
The varied crew, featuring actors Kerry Washington, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane and Benjamin Bratt; hip-hop artist Boots Riley; activist Clarence Thomas; civil rights attorney Renee Maria Saucedo; musicians the Stairwell Sisters; and historian Anthony Arnove, read and sang selections from "Voices of a People's History," the companion volume of first-person accounts plucked from Zinn's 1980 best-seller "A People's History of the United States."
There's some actors whose movies I now know to boycott, except Brolin who appears in movies I simply don't want to see. 

I went to Boston University for a spell when Zinn (along with Elie Weizel) was one of the school's celebrity professors. I even saw him "open" for Abbie Hoffman during some student protests over dorm access, or something. He is about as humorless and grating as any lefty you can imagine. But, somehow, the Beautiful People have annointed him as their Official Historian. 

Unlike many of them, I have actually read the "People's History." It's mostly a hagiography for the various agitators who have tried to bring the US down. Zinn himself is an intellectual leader in the effort to discredit the Constitution for being nothing more than a compact between wealthy planters to protect their financial interests and oppress the People.  That he is one of the intellectual leaders of the country's progressive community is yet another reason not to trust progressives when they profess to "love" their country. How this could be inspiring is beyond me.

This guy also doesn't seem to get it, but from the opposite direction.
Others professed to be die-hard "People's History" fans, like Mike van Dierdonck from Orinda, who teaches it in his classroom. "You try to get kids to a read a book these days," he said, resplendent in a pink tie-dyed shirt. (emphasis added-Ps)
That's because no one wants to hear a bunch of depressing stories about how lousy America is, fool. Zinn and his followers literally believe that we should stop teaching kids about George Washington and the Constitution, and replace them with "brave tales" about Harry Bridges and Eugene Debs. Sorry, but forming a union and going on strike is not in the same league as leading a rebellion against the British Empire. Most folks want to read about THAT Mr. Pink Tye-Dye Shirt.  

1 comment:

  1. How about reading about both, or do you believe that labor history has no place in education? I've also read Zinn's work (more than just A People's History)and have found his work a very helpful reminder that there is more to American history than just the version ordained by the local PTA. Also I've never found Zinn to be grim or humorless, but in fact very witty. Nor is "People's History" mere hagiography of various agitators. It is NOT about the "great man" school of history at all, hence the name "People's History." Your readers would do well to read it themselves and make up their own minds.