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Why the Feds Fear Thinkers Like Howard Zinn

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Posted on Aug 1, 2010
AP / Dima Gavrysh

By Chris Hedges

On Monday I will teach my final American history class of the semester to prison inmates. We have spent five weeks reading Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” The class is taught in a small room in the basement of the prison. I pass through a metal detector, am patted down by a guard and walk through three pairs of iron gates to get to my students. We have covered Spain’s genocide of the native inhabitants in the Caribbean and the Americas, the war for independence in the United States and the disgraceful slaughter of Native Americans. We have examined slavery, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the occupations of Cuba and the Philippines, the New Deal, two world wars and the legacy of racism, capitalist exploitation and imperialism that continue to infect American society.

We have looked at these issues, as Zinn did, through the eyes of Native Americans, immigrants, slaves, women, union leaders, persecuted socialists, anarchists and communists, abolitionists, anti-war activists, civil rights leaders and the poor. As I was reading out loud a passage by Sojourner Truth, Chief Joseph, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B Du Bois, Randolph Bourne, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, I have heard students mutter “Damn” or “We been lied to.”

The power of Zinn’s scholarship—which I have watched over the past few weeks open the eyes of young, mostly African-Americans to their own history and the structures that perpetuate misery for the poor and gluttony and privilege for the elite—explains why the FBI, which released its 423-page file on Zinn on July 30, saw him as a threat. 

Zinn, who died in January at the age of 87, did not advocate violence or support the overthrow of the government, something he told FBI interrogators on several occasions. He was rather an example of how genuine intellectual thought is always subversive. It always challenges prevailing assumptions as well as political and economic structures. It is based on a fierce moral autonomy and personal courage and it is uniformly branded by the power elite as “political.” Zinn was a threat not because he was a violent revolutionary or a communist but because he was fearless and told the truth. 

The cold, dead pages of the FBI file stretch from 1948 to 1974. At one point five agents are assigned to follow Zinn. Agents make repeated phone calls to employers, colleagues and landlords seeking information. The FBI, although Zinn is never suspected of carrying out a crime, eventually labels Zinn a high security risk. J. Edgar Hoover, who took a personal interest in Zinn’s activities, on Jan. 10, 1964, drew up a memo to include Zinn “in Reserve Index, Section A,” a classification that permitted agents to immediately arrest and detain Zinn if there was a national emergency. Muslim activists, from Dr. Sami Al-Arian to Fahad Hashmi, can tell you that nothing has changed.

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The file exposes the absurdity, waste and pettiness of our national security state. And it seems to indicate that our security agencies prefer to hire those with mediocre or stunted intelligence, dubious morality and little common sense. Take for example this gem of a letter, complete with misspellings, mailed by an informant to then FBI Director Hoover about something Zinn wrote.

“While I was visiting my dentist in Michigan City, Indiana,” the informant wrote.  “This pamphlet was left in my car, and I am mailing it to you, I know is a DOVE call, and not a HOCK call. We have had a number of ethnic groups move into our area in the last few years. We are in a war! And it doesn’t look like this pamphlet will help our Government objectives.”

Or how about the meeting between an agent and someone identified as Doris Zinn. Doris Zinn, who the agent says is Zinn’s sister, is interviewed “under a suitable pretext.” She admits that her brother is “employed at the American Labor Party Headquarters in Brooklyn.” That is all the useful information that is reported. The fact that Zinn did not have a sister gives a window into the quality of the investigations and the caliber of the agents who carried them out. 

FBI agents in November 1953 wrote up an account of a clumsy attempt to recruit Zinn as an informant, an attempt in which they admitted that Zinn “would not volunteer information” and that “additional interviews with ZINN would not turn him from his current attitude.” A year later, after another interrogation, an agent wrote that Zinn “concluded the interview by stating he would not under any circumstances testify or furnish information concerning the political opinions of others.”

While Zinn steadfastly refused to cooperate in the anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s, principals and college administrators were busy purging classrooms of those who, like Zinn, exhibited intellectual and moral independence. The widespread dismissals of professors, elementary and high school teachers and public employees—especially social workers whose unions had advocated on behalf of their clients—were carried out quietly. The names of suspected “Reds” were handed to administrators and school officials under the FBI’s “Responsibilities Program.” It was up to the institutions, nearly all of which complied, to see that those singled out lost their jobs. There rarely were hearings.  The victims did not see any purported evidence. They were usually abruptly terminated. Those on the blacklist were effectively locked out of their professions. The historian Ellen Schrecker estimates that between 10,000 and 12,000 people were blackballed through this process.


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By Terry5135, August 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

David Burack, re: It seems to me that the hostility to understanding the past and its relevance to sorting out how things got to be the way that they are, and how they might, or might not, change, is acute.

I would - off the top of my head - tend to agree with you. Honestly, I regret to say that I haven’t thought about it very much specifically in the terms with which you present the idea.

It makes sense to me to look at it the way you are, i.e., if I understand correctly, that so many would seem to be almost anti-historical when it comes to positions currently held. Prior to you posing the question in just that way, I think I’ve just assumed that people are caught in a kind of perpetual present, as Orwell might have described it. I remember a line from something a long time ago, something fictional I think, maybe a movie, in which a character who was a historian was explaining to someone else why history is so important - because, she said, without history, one will never see the future coming but will instead be caught like a leaf in the wind in a kind of perpetual present. Or words to that effect.

I’ll also say that for about 7 or 8 years now, I’ve frequently referred, in a tongue in cheek sort of way, to this century as the mindtrip century. By which I mean - and not entirely literally, btw - that we seem as a culture to have become more narcissistic than ever before, built upon paper maché popular education. But even the highly educated, as you hint at, seem to succumb to this kind of internal sophistry. Alan Dershowitz is, IMO, the perfect example.

We’re in love with rationality, but we’ve lost our grounding, our foundations. Maybe we’ve been betrayed for too long by too many, by which I especially mean authority. Personally, I can’t help but think that this is inevitable in a left-brain oriented, humanist, rationality-as-highest-goal type of culture. But I don’t want to start another argument to the side because I acknowledge off the bat that this may be entirely wrong - that my own intuition may be missing the boat here entirely in terms of determining a reason.

So, anyway, I’m not really answering your question, am I? Because, right this moment at least, I can’t even really guess. Still, I agree about our current tendencies to become wedded to various beliefs, ideas, positions, whatever. Is it because we ignore history or because we selectively view history having pre-decided the conclusion we wish to reach. I don’t know, but both end up in the same place you describe.

And to be fair to us, it’s very hard to even think, to really think, to reflect nowadays. Too many artificial dichotomies on all sides. Too much control in our very natures by now - we want to control the result so much that we almost predetermine the causes.

It’s a big, big, big subject, don’t you think?

Do you remember, btw, the 50’s movie, Forbidden Planet? it was loosely based on The Tempest. But the really interesting thing about it was the concept of the ID having been the destruction of a super intelligent species. Fascinating, I think.

Gosh, at this stage, I hope I’m not so far off topic that we can’t see Zinn OR the FBI in the distance!

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By rjg1971, August 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

A lot of people reacted to the news of the release
of Zinn’s file as a no news event. I mean what a
shock that they spied on him right. But here
Hedges demonstrates why it’s worth the effort to
read through such a file. We find that Zinn was an
honorable man who refused to play the role of
snitch for the government during the 50’s.

I think it is a mistake for Hedges to portray
government political spies as a bunch of bumbling
buffoons who aren’t good at what they do.
Unfortunately, they’ve been very good at trashing
our democracy and repressing dissent.

Unions have been in a potentially terminal decline
for decades, Pentagon war machine continues its
march of world domination around the globe and the
Democratic-Republican political duopoly remains
firmly entrenched in power. Government spooks have
played a significant roll in the current sad state
of our democracy.

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By David A. Burack, August 10, 2010 at 3:11 am Link to this comment

Enlightening quadralogue by randyjet, nwilk, Terry5135,and M Henri
Day
(with the exception of minor flaming by one of the parties with
predictable response:-), to which I cannot add anything. But it did make me think
as to why people, scholars, even, get so partisan or dichotimetrically
wedded to a position today, and are so ahistorical or, really, anti-historical when
it comes to understanding current issues. It seems to me that the hostility to
understanding the past and its relevance to sorting out how things got to be the
way that they are, and how they might, or might not, change, is acute. What do
you think?

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By Terry5135, August 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

I do the same, randyjet, i.e., discuss and debate these things mostly to find the formulation of my own viewpoints - and, like you, I’ve learned a lot from these things. The initial barrier is always to get past the reactionary stuff, the projected assumptions, the faulty inductions, the leaping to conclusions.

I’ve also, however, gotten fed up from time to time with the sophists and the ego driven oneupsmanship. This is not to say that I don’t engage in these things myself, but as I catch myself doing so, I try to cease. I think in many ways, we’re all sophists now, to varying degrees, because it’s the way we’re taught to learn and to think and it’s what drives our culture. But it’s certainly not a new problem. It seems to have been always with us.

I just spend my life trying to unlearn, really, and to be wary of the temptations of jumping into belief, as much as I might envy those who find it.

I remember reading something a long time ago by some fellow who attended some of Hitler’s rallies. He discussed Hitler’s speaking ability, which often started quite poorly until he got going. And he discussed the electrification of the crowd, which was palpably quite powerful. And even as it didn’t touch him, but rather horrified him, there was a part of him that he recognized that envied the people surrounding him.

Anyway, I drift. A tendency that I’m sure is already obvious.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment

Terry 1535, thanks for the kind words. I of course, agree with your observations mostly. Since I was a member of the SWP for a number of years, I am still pretty far to the left as well,though I consider myself a radical socialist, populist. As for elected officials, I support Bernie Sanders as one who is closest to my views now, though I disagree on some issues.

I do insist on fairly judging people and political positions, and I no longer follow any party line other than my own. So I wind up on opposite sides from some on the left on some issues. I enjoy politics and discussion, so whether or not some agree or not is beside the point. I need to do it to refine my postions and thoughts and to learn some more from other perspectives. I have learned a number of good things from such discussions too that furthered my understanding.

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By Terry5135, August 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Randyjet, why argue with agenda ridden literalists? No matter what you have to observe, it will be perceived as falling to one side or the other of an artificial dichotomy.

I suppose, in such a worldview, I tend to fall rather far to the left (radical, actually), but I reject that worldview. I recognize that in a right wing society, for instance, that the left tends to have more dedication to truth than the right, but this is not because progressives are innately and objectively more truthful or more intellectually honest, but only because of the context - in China, during the Cultural Revolution, it was the so-called right who tended to have the copyright on the truth (though, ironically, those so called reactionaries and counter revolutionaries were communists too, just as American progressives are all capitalists).

That the left is essentially the same as the right - worse, that most people are essentially the same - is very threatening to the morally high and mighty, even those who feel the added righteousness of being in the minority and persecuted.

You’re going to run into great hostility (and a lot of sophism) for any hint that people lack imagination (especially among those that do) and especially so for pointing out to the literal minded that they lack humour.

You’re presenting something that is, somehow, existentially threatening. Some people are just heavily invested in being on the right side (of any given artificial dichotomy), of cut and dry, objective and quantifiable solutions that exist independent of the human heart. People just need to feel superior to others, period, and you’re rocking the boat. The secular, humanist progressive tends to be a fundamaterialist every bit as much as the zealous, religious, evangelical right tends to be a fundamentalist - that the two are essentially the same in character, simply having opted for different menu choices, is something that demands a recognition outside of the bounds of cognitive closure (that phrase defined by Colin McGinn as “domains of knowledge where our brains are wired in a way that makes it impossible for us to acquire certain kinds of knowledge.”)

Nobody wants to think about slavery other than in absolute terms, not to mention that everything is in the terminology. That some slaves might actually have had better lives than some free working citizens in a democracy is a concept that by definition is impossible to accept. Especially to a racist people who refuse to come to terms with their own bigotry in their desperate attempt to be better than they are.

To accept your propositions is to stop being afraid. Good luck.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

Thank you Day for proving my point on your lack of humor and other things. It reminds me of the response I got from a north German gentleman who I asked about the card game Schafkopf as opposed to Skat. His response was that Schafkopf, Nicht gut, It is only good for sitting around drinking beer and having a good time!

I am fully aware of the slave rebellions of ancient history. Most of them had they succeeded would have had slavery for OTHERS! Their objections were to THEM being slaves. As I mentioned in previous posts in which I observed that some who were previously slaves, becaame themselves slave masters. Being opposed to ones status as a slave does NOT necessarily make one a philosophical abolitionist. You might also recall the jannissaries and the Mameluks who were military slaves. They were used to enforce slavery in their societies. In time they became masters or leaders of their societies.

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By M Henri Day, August 8, 2010 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Disappointingly, randyjet, but hardly surprisingly, you reveal your knowledge of slavery and attitudes towards the same to be as defective as your methods of discussion. Anyone who claims that «There is no factual question that 99% of the people and slaves had no objection to slavery and didn’t consider it evil» needs to deal with the great slave rebellions of classical antiquity - the frequent revolts of the Spartan Helots, the three great so-called Servile Rebellions against Rome, the last of which was lead by Spartacus - and onwards, through the revolts against the Abbasid Caliphate and of the slaves in the Caribbean, North America and South America and, in Africa itself. These events would have sufficed to move a serious historian to question so undocumented and facile a claim as that «99% of the people and slaves had no objection to slavery and didn’t consider it evil» and wonder if, instead, the adage that «where there is oppression there is also resistance» is not closer to the truth, but we can’t all be serious historians, now can we ? Instead, you seem to rely on your self-proclaimed «sense of humor», which you claim - with the same lack of knowledge and contempt for documentation - that I lack, and insinuate that I must be a vegan, lacking in appreciation for dogs as you seem to feel that I do. Indeed, you still fail to understand the meaning of the trope «run with the hares or hunt with the hounds», which I, not you, introduced into the discourse. One could go on and on - examine your claim that, in the context of our discussion, writing that «The Davis brothers established their plantation as a “humane” slavery with no overseers or whips. As a matter of fact, Jefferson Davis’ ex slaves asked for his release from Federal prison because of his decency to them.» is not to be construed as praise - but why bother ? As Schiller observed long ago, «[m]it der Dummheit kaempfen Götter selbst vergebens»....

Henri

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

I see the problem Day has. By pointing out that Davis’ slavery was less bloody than the majority of slavemasters, you falsely state that I praise him. Because I recognize that Mussolini was less bloody than Hitler is hardly praising him. That is called a strawman argument. You also lack a sense of humor which is quite common among self righteous political types when you responded to my tongue in cheek reference to hounds and hares. I guess that we need to all be vegans to be politically correct and to get rid of our dogs since they are relentless hare killers, except for some smaller breeds.

Even with your sympathies which would be akin to those of the Quakers of that time, I doubt that people so inclined would be opposed to slavery since the Quake abolitionists had a long struggle to change the view of most of their members. They certainly did not exist prior to the 1700s or we cannot find historical evidence of them. I cite this because a professor friend of mine did his doctoral dissertation on the Quakers and the abolitionist movement which I read.

The main issue is using our current views of morality and right and wrong to judge those people and history of the past. That is historically a lie, and it runs into the very fact that you point out that we could not in fact even be or have such views in that era. There is no absolute historic view of right vs wrong. The best that I can do is to look at the different position and policies to see if it is progressive or not. If it is, I support it and make my judgement accordingly and we CAN see which view prevailed in fact. Thus we CAN see if one view was in fact historically right over the long term as being “right”.

Thus I cannot condemn Washington for owning slaves at that time and place because he changed his views and was progressive in changing his society. On the other hand, I can condemn Woodrow Wilson for his segregationist policies since he was not only against the tide of history, but was against the policies of much of the people of the USA at THAT TIME. Washington was ahead of his time, Wilson was reactionary and behind his times. THAT we can certainly correctly make a rational historically accurate judgement on.

There is a good book that I would urge all to read on the effect of the Revolution on US society and mores. It is the Radicalism of the American Revolution.

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By M Henri Day, August 8, 2010 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

«You also cannot understand simple things that contradict your prejudices. My point is simply that I would have had the same view of slavery as the rest of the population did, AS WOULD YOU! To state otherswise [sic !] is an absurdity or to claim foreknowledge that does not exist. In short, it is easy to claim things after the fact and in hindsight. Only a fool would claim that he would have been more intelligent and insightful AFTER the FACT. Any person who believed you would be an even bigger fool.» Perhaps, randyjet, you need to learn that abuse is not the same thing as argument - calling others who don’t happen to hold your opinions «fool[s]» merely demonstrates a lack of control over your temper. What you don’t seem to be able to understand is that by the very argument you adduce, statements of the type «I would have had the same view of slavery as the rest of the population did, AS WOULD YOU» are absurd (to employ what seems to be one of your favourite adjectives), as, given that both you and I are shaped by our personal experiences and the historical epoch in which we live - a matter on which we seem to agree - the concept of a «you» or an «I» living in an earlier epoch is meaningless - the persons in question could not have been «you» or «I». What remains for us is to present the arguments used by the protagonists at the time, and to judge them - and still more importantly, their actions - according to the principles we hold. This is precisely what you attempt to do in the case of Jefferson Davis, when you claim that «[t]he Davis brothers established their plantation as a “humane” slavery with no overseers or whips». Surely running things in this fashion was not advocated by the majority of slaveholders at the time, so in praising Davis you are attempting to judge him by your version of today’s morality, rather than by that of his class and time. Besides, as the very example of Davis - if what you claim is true - demonstrates, statements regarding «the same view of slavery as the rest of the population did» assume an identity of views that did not exist - and this long before the Quakers began to oppose «the peculiar institution» (note the adjective chosen by its advocates). Thus, for example, those of Aristoteles, on the one hand, and Epikouros, on the other, seem to have differed greatly - although the evidence with respect to the latter is fragmentary, as later generations of slaveholders seem to have done their best to see to it that the works of this thinker were not transmitted. In any event, from what you have posted to this thread, I suspect that you are correct in assuming that persons with the same moral tendencies as yourself living in say, the 18th or 19th centuries would have supported the institution of chattel slavery, but given what I know about myself and where my sympathies tend to lie, you err in making the same assumption about persons who resemble me. But perhaps you can be satisfied with fifty percent accuracy ?...

Henri

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

Maybe DaveZX3 is right…..

and now we probably should drop about 6 or 7 of
them simultaneously.

1 on Pakistan
1 on Ahghanistan
1 on Iraq
2 on Iran

Because we are the “good guys”  and it’s OK

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By Terry5135, August 8, 2010 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

randyjet is right when he says “ALL people are products of their times and past history.” We’re not even aware of the bulk of things that we take for granted. And unfortunately, our knowledge is shaped by the perspective on events by elites, aristocrats, wealthy, however you wish to describe them. So even as we admire Zinn and find ourselves shocked by his revelations, we still live on a foundation of aristocratic history and perspective. Even those who dissent and object are quick to form attachments to personality, as if they are royalty (or counter-royalty if you prefer), because we’ve been raised to process information as aristocrats taught us.

As randy implies, most Americans (just as a for instance) think nothing of America’s constant projection of power and aggression into 2nd and 3rd world countries, just as 17th century westerners thought nothing of slavery. And those who dissent, dissent on practical, objective issues, not on the workings of our minds. As an example, those who object to American exceptionalism will at the same time react viscerally against anything even faintly suggesting disapproval of, say, Cindy Sheehan, in ANY role, even those not suited to her.

When Dawn Johnsen was introduced to speak at the ACS convention this year, the hostess instructed her audience to rise before bringing out Dawn, in an obvious act to produce a standing ovation. These of course are all lawyers and generally all progressive. But the essential character behind that simple, insignificant act is the same as that behind the evangelical Christian Zionist who wishes to steer events so as to bring about Armageddon and the Rapture. It’s a very peculiar trait and fantasy in us, especially Americans (but obviously not originating with Americans).

In other words, at this point, we’re all control freaks to such an extent that we’re utterly unaware of it. Those who are mostly so will damn those who are even more so for being so. Just as the intelligent will roll over the left gifted, without ever thinking that their differences may pale in contrast with the level of stupidity of both parties. A dog is smarter than a fish, but this does not mean that dogs consciously understand canine culture (if there were such a thing).

As for slavery, well, those opposed to the slave trade [specifically] in late 18th century Britain (when opposition commenced well in advance of American opposition) had very good reasons, from their perspective, for opposition to banning the practice. They believed that it would destroy the British economy and, at that time, all rational thought would understandably lead one to exactly that kind of thinking. The problem with rational thought is what it can’t think of, what only the indefensible imagination can produce. Rational thought will always lead us back to where we stand, unless we through in some very un-rational premises that can only be arrived at by intuition or wishful thinking (the two of them so indistinguishably resembling one another in our minds). And by principles, which too can only be defended by questionable extrapolations from experience, but all too often not by reason.

There are good reasons why history repeats itself and randyjet is correctly standing on the summit of one of them.

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By randyjet, August 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

The reason I made that comment about the peoples attitude before the 1700s is that all countries not only had legalized slavery, but the first abolitionists were non existent back then. When some Quakers first proposed the idea that slavery was a bad thing, it lost since most Quakers supported slavery. So unless you can show me some concrete abolitionist examples of this view before that date, my observation stands as correct. Also, when the Quaker abolitionists became a majority, they were faced with extreme persecution from ALL sides in ALL colonies.

Unless you are descended from Quakers of that period, you would even in the 1700s be in an extreme minority.

I hardly support the Davis form of slavery, but you cannot understand the point that conditions were not the same for all slaves.

You also cannot understand simple things that contradict your prejudices. My point is simply that I would have had the same view of slavery as the rest of the population did, AS WOULD YOU! To state otherswise is an absurdity or to claim foreknowledge that does not exist. In short, it is easy to claim things after the fact and in hindsight. Only a fool would claim that he would have been more intelligent and insightful AFTER the FACT. Any person who believed you would be an even bigger fool.

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By M Henri Day, August 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

«I find it very arrogant that you think that YOU would be so advanced and morally superior prior to the 1700s that you would not have approved of slavery.»This simply ahistorical and is absurd.» I presume that you mean,randyjet, that it is arrogant of me to think that I would not have approved of slavery had I lived «prior to the 1700s». An interesting observation - in what way is so thinking «arrogant» ? Inaccurate perhaps, perhaps showing a lack of your profound historical sense, but «arrogant» ? Moreover, perhaps you should note that that kindly slaveholder Jeffersson Davis lived between 1808 and 1889, an era during which a large number of people not only disapproved of, but actually campaigned and fought against slavery. But one conclusion can, I suggest, safely be drawn from your posting ; viz, that you do not think that you, had you lived prior to the 18th century, would have objected to slavery. You are no doubt to be commended for your self-knowledge ! As to your remark to the effect that «[t]here is no factual question that 99% of the people and slaves had no objection to slavery and didn’t consider it evil», when did this proposition, which you state with such relish and such numerical certainty become a fact ? On what contemporary survey do you base so strong a conclusion ? Or is this merely a the result of introspection on your part - «if I, randyjet, who have a pre-18th-century mentality feel this way, then 99 % of those then living must surely have felt the same way and no further evidence is needed» ? Comforting, I’m sure, but as argument hardly convincing. In any event, while I’m not certain that you understand the phrase to run with the hare or run (hunt) with the hounds, from what you write it does seem clear that you are, indeed, of the latter sort. Again, you are to be congratulated on the degree of self-knowledge you have attained….

Henri

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

But no matter what version of SPIN THE LIE is getting

played…........IT ALL COMES OUT EXACTLY THE SAME.


Now it is time to spin some NATIONALISM, for that is the
favorite game of the INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS, and so easy
to do.  and so easy to get the slaves to haul weapons
around.

CARLIN:  I’m not American,  I think”
Carlin:  “FUCK HOPE!!!  If you think there is a solution
        your part of the problem”....

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By randyjet, August 7, 2010 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

ALL people are products of their times and past history. I find it very arrogant that you think that YOU would be so advanced and morally superior prior to the 1700s that you would not have approved of slavery. This simply ahistorical and is absurd. There is no factual question that 99% of the people and slaves had no objection to slavery and didn’t consider it evil. Indeed some ex slaves became slaveowners themselves, as some former slaveowners became slaves too.

I think that your concerns about slavery returning are absurd as well. Of course, it justifies all kinds of stupid ideology and slander. As for running with the hounds, as a dog lover who has three furry children, I have to confess I would indeed run with them and do on occasion. I haven’t caught a hare as my they have.

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By M Henri Day, August 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

I suggest, randyjet, that the qualifying adverb «today» is superfluous - there is not and never has been a justification for the institution of chattel slavery, even if Jefferson Davis may have so believed. But of course, what slave holders and their apologists and different categories of slaves felt or claimed to feel about the matter must be investigated and taught, just like the beliefs of those opposed to the practice ; otherwise one can never grasp why this issue bedeviled the United States from its inception - and indeed, why it continues to do so today. As to any «danger in students deciding that slavery was a good thing», some students will in fact, make that decision - there are always those who will choose to ride with the hounds rather than run with the hares. The question is how one can hold them in check. Right now, we don’t seem to be doing a good job….

Henri

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By randyjet, August 7, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

While it is obvious that today there is no justification for chattel slavery, it needs to be pointed out the history of slavery and the fact that it is still practiced in some Muslim countries today, Saudi only “outlawed” it in 1965 for what that was worth if anything. For US history it should be pointed out that the treatment of slaves while very poor for the most part, it varied wildly in surprising places. The Davis brothers established their plantation as a “humane” slavery with no overseers or whips. As a matter of fact, Jefferson Davis’ ex slaves asked for his release from Federal prison because of his decency to them. There were slaves who were personal attendants and friends such as Washington’s personal slave who accompanied him throughout the Revolution. The saying is that while Washington was considered the best horseman in the US, the second best was his slave who kept up with him.

To understand US history, one also has to include the rationalizations for it. So in that sense, yes you do have to state what the thinking was in keeping the system going and including the justifications for it. I don’t think that there will be much danger in students deciding that slavery was a good thing. Leaving out that part is sort of like teaching about the Berlin blockade without mentioning the reasons for it and what the US did to provoke it.

I am a big believer in keeping facts in their proper historical context and times. Doing otherwise is simply dishonest history.

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By M Henri Day, August 7, 2010 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Randyjet, while I do think we should allow nwilk to speak for him or herself, I have no objection whatsoever to a discussion of the things you mention in your posting - quite the contrary ! What I don’t understand is how they would constitute «both sides of the story» ? Surely you are not meaning to suggest that claims to the effect that the «treatment [of African slaves in Latin American countries] was FAR worse than the slaves experienced in the US» in any way justified the treatment they received in the United States ? Or are you ?...

Henri

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By randyjet, August 7, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

I think his remarks pertain to the context of slavery in the US. For example its beginnings, its use and mortality results, comparison to other slave owning nations, and in short a balanced judgement putting US slavery in its proper historical context.

For example, only 5% of the slaves exported from Africa who made it to the western hemisphere went to the USA. The rest went to our southern Latin American countries because of the extremely high mortality rate. They simply killed them off and brought more over. Their treatment was FAR worse than the slaves experienced in the US. Brazil and Cuba only outlawed slavery many DECADES after the US. Indeed the die hard Confederates exiled themselves and their slaves to Brazil.

A discussion of slavery would also have to include the objections to it at the very beginning of our nation and the problems it imposed in forming the US. One would hope that it would note the US BAN on further importation of slaves that was enshrined in the Constitution. It should also note the change in George Washington’s view of slavery during the Revolution. Most people do NOT know that fully 25% of the Continental Army was black and mostly fully INTEGRATED! I would hope that it would mention the fact that the Brits took the freed US slaves who fought for them, and then RE-ENSLAVED them and sold them off to the plantaions in Jamaica. It would also note that Washington freed his slaves at his death, and gave them PENSIONS and land. He had aslo evolved to the point that he had become an abolitionist sympathizer if not an outright advocate of emancipation. He showed by his ACTIONS how he thought the slavery problem should be taken care of.

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By M Henri Day, August 7, 2010 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Nwilk, excuse my question, which I assure is neither rhetorical nor springs from a desire to make you look bad, but just what do you mean by teaching «both sides of the story» of slavery ? Are you referring to examining the motives of those who owned slaves and those who defended the practice of chattel slavery ? I should think that these were necessary elements of any discussion of slavery, but perhaps you have in mind something entirely different ?...

Henri

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By randyjet, August 7, 2010 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

I liked Zinn and have a great deal of respect for him and his work, and like him I was a subject of FBI surveillance and investigation. Unfortunately, my file was not as large nor my work as influential. That is my fault, not the FBIs.

Having said that, I think it is a bit of miseducation to use his book as the only textbook on US history. There are numerous errors of fact in it and it does not give a balanced view of US history. It was NOT designed to do that and to use it in a course in which most of the students have a limited or non-existent knowledge of US history is a real disservice to the students. I applaud your efforts in helping inmates, but it hopefully will in the future include a real textbook and you can use Zinn’s book as a useful antidote to some of the overlooked areas of US history. One of the reasons I liked Zinn was that he recognized the limitations of his history, and made no apologies for it since he was honest enough to state his purpose. It is also why his book in not recognized as serious history. I read the book and enjoyed it, so don’t stop teaching it, but please DO recognize its limitations and use it as Zinn intended.

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By nwilk, August 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I too have read Zinn’s book as well as other authors about lies teachers have told. However, I still feel, that we must teach both sides of every equation.  Yes, although slavery is incomprehensible for us to imagine, we must teach both sides of the story as well.  By giving all sides of the story, in an unbiased way, we can only allow our students to make up their own minds.  After all, if we only teach one side, are we not just as bad as they are?  Let’s look at everyone’s motive.(Yes I am a teacher.)

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By PatrickHenry, August 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

What a waste of taxpayer dollars investigating and following him, invading his privacy.

The FBI has a charter which allows them to look after everyday Americans for improper dealings, Zinn was overkill, an easy target.

I would like them to concentrate on wall street bankers, hedge fund managers and lobbyists, not authors.

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By kerryrose, August 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

gerard

I am required to teach ‘both sides’ of slavery during a Civil War unit to 5th graders.

Is there two sides to slavery?  Do we really want to teach the other side?

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By diman, August 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

No I didn’t comment on them ( your //// and 0000) in my first posting, I saved it for the second one.

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By REDHORSE, August 4, 2010 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

I’ve read “A Peoples History—”. Good book!! You and I get angry at the obvious injustice, but the truth is, unless “it’s” happening to them, most Americans are indifferent. I made a tongue-in-cheek comment a few weeks ago, that if you wanted the war to stop, reinstate the draft. That’d do it!!

      Conscious evil is on the attack, but I agree with other posters on this thread, it isn’t all one way or the other. Our Constitution speaks to the best aspects of my spiritual human nature, desire for a free evolved society, sense of fair play, open thought and conciousness. But, many can’t wait to tell you, it is only a legal document to protect the property rights of white men. The fact is, because of our better nature, and those of all colors willing to fight for it, the Constitution has evolved. Again, conscious evil is on the attack. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights must be fully restored and the Patriot Act suspended if American Democracy is to survive. We all know that.

      Have unjust men and women used, and continue to use, American Governmental power, for personal profit and greedy motive, without regard to natural, human or cultural consequence? Hell yes!! Are they doing it now? You bet!! Zinn documented this injustice, and illustrated, that the life and voice of single individuals and committed groups, can create huge positive shifts in American consciousness. That’s the thought and action evil fears. I’m amazed at the hopeless, (“the Republicans are coming back”, “Obama has failed us”), dying cockroach attitude of many here. If people are the power, where’s the will to action? There are organized groups active for change in America, join one!! I don’t have to tell you why the MSM is silent about them do I?  True, there’s not a lot of difference between the Dems and Rethugs, but sometimes the margin of victory is narrow. It’s well known that Senate Rethugs are holding the Congress hostage. Are you registered?

      Recognition of our woundedness as a people is important. Truth heals. But, I’m suspicious of the “specialness” and “political correctness” that prevents dialogue and recognition of common values and purpose. Real difference between ethno/cultural values is slight and, apocalypse won’t restore an imaginary realm of egalitarian light. We’ve all paid huge dues, forward is the only direction we have. We are being offered another dark age. Blame and guilt serve no purpose. Acceptance, forgiveness and understanding go a long way.

      Later alligator!!

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By M Henri Day, August 4, 2010 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

Gerard, thanks for that revealing little tidbit from US academia ! I can understand if you don’t wish to inform us just where it occurred, but might I ask you when ?...

Henri

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By David Sketchley, August 4, 2010 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

Two comments for Chris:

1. Why is Spain’s actions in the Caribbean and Americas ‘genocide’ while the white settlers’ actions in N America merely ‘slaughter’?

2. By the same token, in the comment at the end ““If you were a Native American,” one of my students asked recently, “what would have been the difference between Columbus and Hitler?” ” we could then also compare Hitler to the Founding Fathers who came over in the Pilgrim…

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By gerard, August 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

One I’ll never forget:  Teaching in a public college, my class read a selection against the a-bomb by a well known essayist.  A girl in the back row turned in an “evaluation” of me:  “Of course she’s a Communist.  She went to Japan.”  Department head calls me in and gives me complaint, exhorting me to “teach both sides of the question.”  There are two sides to nuclear holocaust?  News to me!

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By ardee, August 3, 2010 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of pomposity… Ed Harges, August 3 at 1:52 pm
re:By ardee, August 2 at 6:03 pm:

Of course you ignore the fact that I mentioned that there are exceptions, if not
enough to change things. Of course you do that - because then your puffy little
post would deflate like a punctured soufflé.

What you said is that there are not enough exceptions to change things and there never will be…..

That is not exactly what you now claim, not at all what you now claim in fact. Speaking of deflating, hows that ginormous ego of yours anyway?

There aren’t enough exceptions to change things,
and there never will be.

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By Peter Knopfler, August 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm Link to this comment

Love Howard, this reminds me of wikileaks, by the way, I sent this pos first one you didn`t let through?. Mullens and Gates said that wikileaks had blood on their hands. Lets look closer, monster Mullens head of CIA ordered hundreds of assinations, Mullens has a bathtub of blood on his hands. Bob-Bobby Gates Helped Bush kill ONE MILLION Iraquis, now killing for Obama in Afghan, Pakistan, Yemen, Bobby G, gateway to death, another bathtub of Blood on his hands, Wiki owner looks like he never wore a military uniform, attacked no one, probably never shot a rifle! I watch C-Span a lot and Mullem Gates dumb and dumber. YES HOWARD ZINN I have books in my library, Sad words from the Grave.

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By rainwave, August 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

It is interesting to note how much Zinn scared them.

Today Jon Stewart can preach of misuse about the establishment but not raise an eyebrow from the buildings of Pennsylvania Avenue. Therein lies the problem with the brand of the court jester he and others represent these days streaming from junk media. This is the protection he gets, for it’s castle entertainment and if we off with Stewart’s or Colbert’s head the king must explain to its subjects it wasn’t his henchmen. It would be a unnecessary hack job due to the fact that he is a jester and not a threat.

Though,once the court jesters cross the line into Zinn territory, he becomes boring,played,and demonized to a radical. He is no longer played with laughter and apple commercials after he tells his audience about the crimes his king is committing.But the kings subjects addicted to entertainment will find another jester and with the king call the old worn out jester crazy. And that’s why the round-table is in a win/win situation.

Now, about the new speakers of truth or people like Mr. Hedges. Where do they stand in the eyes of those who are watching? What radar are they on in the kings court or its subjects?

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By Peter Knopfler, August 3, 2010 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Great article, Wikileaks is going through something similar, Mullens and Gates both said wikileaks has Blood on their hands HA HA HA!Mullens head of CIA before this post, order hundreds of assisinations, 30 years there Mullen has a bath tub of blood on his hands, Gates was the gateway to death Iraqi war with Bush Now OBAMA Afgan, pakistan, Yemen, ONE MILLION dead IRAQIS`For BOBBY G. and these guys have the nerve to say wikileaks has blood on their Hands HA HA Wikileak owner never wore a military uniform and attack people, He looks like he has never fired a rifle, Mullens the monster, Bobby G,Gateway to death. Ha HA these are the people acussing HA HA! What a bunch of Dummies, I watch C-span and they do look like dumb and dumber. Great Article love Zinn words from the grave Now, all his books right here in my library!

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By HotRocks05, August 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the awesome article, Zinn’s scholarship encouraged me to leave the DoD and put my Harvard education to use writing a book about the threat of terrorism from radicalized ex-cons and how crappy our prison system is, it’s posted up online in its entirety for free:

http://www.tremblethedevil.com/introduction

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By sallysense, August 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

(regarding another previous comment from diman)... ((as copied right below))...

((To sallysense:

You are one sally who doesn’t make any sense, apparently that was some fat joint you smoked before posting your coments, I especially liked all the ///// and 000000 which you used to separate your paragraphs, some creativity is always a nice touch.))

hiya again diman’n'all!... regarding your recent previous comment… ((as copied above))...

perhaps your internet brower configuration shows a different picture than the one the preview screen and final screen here shows…

(and no… there’s no drugs or alcohol in me… that stuff doesn’t interest me)...

my recent previous comment you mentioned shows the picture of two people talking to each other…

the first person is saying…

“come see reality through my viewpoint only”...

the second person is saying…

“but gee… if i did that… i wouldn’t be able to hear the people who are suffering talk about all the bad dreams and nightmares they experience”...

(and here is that picture… again)...

////
00
o
O

“come see reality through my viewpoint only”...

\\\
00
o
o

“but gee… if i did that… i wouldn’t be able to hear the people who are suffering talk about all the bad dreams and nightmares they experience”...

(hopefully the pictures in my other two comments were reasonably understandable… as you didn’t mention anything like this earlier when you commented on them)...

and also for folks…

tell the lawmakers… wake up our government!... to care about the basics!... and stop misleading!... and end this war!... and don’t waste anymore!...

(and here’s one of many links us citizens can use)... http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials

(and there’s lotsa other stuff folks can do too!)...

the best of wishes’n'ways’n'todays to each’n'everyone!... smile

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By diman, August 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

To sallysense:

You are one sally who doesn’t make any sense, apparently that was some fat joint you smoked before posting your coments, I especially liked all the ///// and 000000 which you used to separate your paragraphs, some creativity is always a nice touch.

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By sallysense, August 3, 2010 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

(regarding another previous comment from diman)... ((as copied right below))...

((By sallysense:

“just look at the bad dreams and nightmares around this country and overseas… and see for yourself…”

I’m seeing it alright, but not as a dreams, I don’t dwell on dreams but on reality, to me it is real, the suffering of people is real, I don’t take it as some kind of a nightmare, it wouldn’t even occur to me to refer to the situation as “a bad dream”, and just for the record (referring to the “nightmares around this country”) I don’t care about neither american people nor about your country, you brought it all on yourselves, what did you think cultivating greed, breeding compulsive consumers and lusting for power and world domination would bring your country? It would bring you exactly what you are seeing right now.))

hiya diman’n'all!... regarding your previous comment… ((as copied above))...

////
00
o
O

“come see reality through my viewpoint only”...

\\\
00
o
o

“but gee… if i did that… i wouldn’t be able to hear the people who are suffering talk about all the bad dreams and nightmares they experience”...

and also… as far as your idea of all american human beings goes… (or any group of humans when you’re letting pre-conceived notions do all the viewing for you)...

it brings to mind…

nowadays basic schooling shouldn’t keep fooling itself without teaching students about illusion…

(one of my interests is about adding a helpful school education class for students… and worldwide too)...

for while schools teach kids knowledge and other things for their minds… too many students don’t know how standard human perception uses illusion in its natural thought-pattern processes… (and this process occurs in all humans… just as the process for food and water occurs in all humans too)...

so it’s important for all children’s well-being and futures that they become aware of how illusion can distort and transform something from being seen “as it actually is”… into something altogether different when thoughts already in the mind create their own pictures and use them as substitutes…

hence as new insightful consideration shows students how illusion works… those mental pictures that resurface as ignorant racial bias or fanatical religious intolerance or stupified street gang mentality etc are less apt to make an impact…

as this new course gives them awareness of other alternatives (views of perception) present to consider… and hence a benefit for all children to learn through simple child-geared terms…

for when there’s unawareness… it can easily mislead mindsets into different unfair social and racial prejudices and biases etc… and that can eventually build up and act outwardly into further dangerous and destructive scenarios… leaving people suffering from the effects of not knowing any better…

and with the world becoming more’n’more crowded… and with all kindsa mindsets behind trigger fingers and control buttons these days… this overall awareness for children’s minds to consider and realize how illusion is behind so many ideas… is urgently needed now more than ever!...

(and there’s also a preliminary sketch for a poster)...

the state of the world today shows just how much mankind is clutching onto everything else but its own human common bond… (and it doesn’t matter which country or people it is… take away the brand names’n'ways… take things down to their basic foundations… and you’ll see the same thing)...

and also…

tell the lawmakers… wake up our government!... to care about the basics!... and stop misleading!... and end this war!... and don’t waste anymore!...

(and here’s one of many links us citizens can use)... http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials

(and there’s lotsa other stuff folks can do too!)...

the best of wishes’n'ways’n'todays to each’n'everyone!... smile

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By rainwave, August 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

Ofersince72 says

“No fucking shit Cris Hedges??


  The Feds really don’t like free thinking people???

  wow, and wow again Cris Hedges…..

  Just when did you find this out, yesterday???

                  OR

“Hedges, you are boring…”

                  OR


“As I promised, these are my last postings for at least
three months or forever, don’t know.  Hedges, I hope you
quit covering abstracts for a while. Your readers would
follow you into hell and it is my belief that you have
somewhat been taking advantage of this.“july 1st 2010

                OR
“Hedges, you dupistic “feel gooder”, “I am so good”
“Mr. Everything”.

and

“And screw Mr. Cris Hedges
reviewing material that most on here should have known
a couple of decades ago.”
————————————————————————-
Just like we keep reviewing your materiel over and over.
So just wondering why if Chris is boring and old news why you keep reading his columns?

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

No fucking shit Cris Hedges??


  The Feds really don’t like free thinking people???

  wow, and wow again Cris Hedges…..

  Just when did you find this out, yesterday???

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Hedges, you dupistic “feel gooder”, “I am so good”
“Mr. Everything”.

  You want to help America and pay REAL tribute to
HOWARD ZINN.?????????????????

  Then encourage all your readers to get rid of
everyone, don’t vote !!!!!!!
  DEMAND A NEW CONTSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

  CRIS HEDGES   DO GOODER OF AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!

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By jkehoe, August 3, 2010 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

HZ believed in truth and justice. He wanted America to live by the ideals spelled out in the constitution- liberty and democracy. He had the guts to get out of the classroom and into the streets to do his bit. A great American democratic leftist. RIP

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By Ed Harges, August 3, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

re:By ardee, August 2 at 6:03 pm:

Of course you ignore the fact that I mentioned that there are exceptions, if not
enough to change things. Of course you do that - because then your puffy little
post would deflate like a punctured soufflé.

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By cmarcusparr, August 3, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Many comments reflect delusional thinking, coming as they do to the defense of the one-percenters, the ruling elite, even of the FBI. Ridiculous!

We’re over the falls. After Sept. 2008, you can stick a fork in America; it’s done.

Next up, the mid-terms in which short-attention-span political theater will return Republicans to power, Republicans who are even more corrupt than the current crop of Democrats.

And after that, 2012 with Romney or Palin or both. Can you say Sieg Heil?

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By - bill, August 3, 2010 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

I really do agree with most of what you and Zinn have to say, Chris.  But if you’re going to ridicule others for their spelling idiosyncrasies, you really ought to be more careful with your own (it’s Bobby SEALE, not Bobby SEAL - and my impression is that you’re old enough to have been familiar with his name at the time).

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By Inherit The Wind, August 3, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Ofer:

You need to do something about that depression of yours.

No, I wouldn’t trust Cortez or his people either.  Yes, the Spanish tried to make the American civilizations look savage—ironic for the inventors of the Inquisition and the steel collar garrote (I STILL remember in the 70’s Franco having a dissident or revolutionary executed that way).

But it is bad history to rely on a single secondary source.  I try not to do it.

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By Sodium-Na, August 3, 2010 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

In addition to intellectuals like Howard Zin,Sami Al-Arian and Fahad Hashmi who were all investigated by the FBI,the late Palestinian American activist,Edward Said was chased by the FBI for more than 30 years. Yet,the FBI could NOT find a clue to use against him.

It seems to me that Edward Said was as clean as Ralph Nadir who was fully investigated by,the once powerful,General Motors,after he wrote his book,entitled “Unsafe At Any Speed”,somewhere in the middle of 1960s.

The foregoing is for the records about Edward Said.

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

America is a lie,  and we have been living this lie
for two hundred years.

  Every fabric and thread of America is recorded in
a lie.

  Zinn attempted to rectify this, that is why he wrote
his book,  it didn’t go far enough.

  Hedges is a liberal apologist that throws just enough
crumbs to keep his cult following.
  We are living a lie today. We lived a lie yesterday
and our parents before that.
And they continue to lie their way out of a bag of shit
on Capitol Hill, no matter who is in office , your
precious Democrats or your hogmouth Republicans, they
all spew the same lies.
Desert Storm a big fat lie.
Hussain in the ninties….a big fat lie
WMDs that they knew didn’t exist   a big fat lie.
Taliban launching 9/11 a big fat lie
WWI & II,  reasons and causes   a big fat lie
Spanish American war   a big fat lie
Viet Nam conflict   a big fat lie
Korean conflict   a big fat lie
American Indian Conquest   a big fat lie
the Civil War reasons   a big fat lie
Mexican war   a big fat lie
central america   a big fat lie
Columbia       a big fat lie
EVERY LITTLE BIT OF TEXT BOOK HISTORY OF AMERICA
A   BIG FAT   LIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YOU ARE LIVING A LIE
AMERICA IS LIVING A LIE
LARGEST DEBTOR NATION IN THE WORLD ...LIVING A BIG FAT LIE

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

Hedges, you are boring…

  So are you Rico, Ardee, and John Ellis repeating the
same things over, and over, and over and over

  I leave truth dig the way I found it

  A big apologist web site for the powers that be

LUV U ALL ,,,,GOOD LUCK WITH THE AUSTERITY !!!!!!!!!!!!

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By diman, August 3, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

By Ofersince72:

“This country is screwed
And screw Mr. Cris Hedges
reviewing material that most on here should have known
a couple of decades ago”

Exactly my point here, once again Hedges is not a messiah, just listen to his speeches, it is all in the abstract, war is bad, yes Mr. Hedges, thanks for clarifying that once again.

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

ITW

If you are going by diez del castillo’s account,
believe what you want to believe.

I believe he wrote that garbage in response to the
out cry in Spain due to public knowledge of the genocide
that was happening in the new world.

He is the only real count of human sacrifice.
Of course Europeans made the native Americans to be
Savages,
  History is full of shit,  we can’t even record
today’s history correctly.
  history certainly lied about the North American Indians.
I don’t believe Cortez’s secretary,  my choise.
I don’t believe the written account that was delivered
to us in our classroom of how WWI AND WWII started
I don’t believe the high school history books that teach
that the U.S. occupied Viet Nam to stop communism
I don’t believe the text book history of Desert Storm
I don’t believe the text book history of Afganistan
I don’t believe the text book history of Iraq and WMDs
I do believe that this country is in one hell of a mess
due to a the lies that have been generated and recorded
in history as fact.

This country is screwed
And screw Mr. Cris Hedges
reviewing material that most on here should have known
a couple of decades ago.
later ITW,,,  you have always been one of the nicer
persons on here to debate even though I disagree mostly
withyou..
Truth Dig has got completly boring to me
The people who I enjoy reading don’t hardly ever
contribute.,,,the rest is like reading Puffington Pst
or listening to Racheal.
Later…..........

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By diman, August 3, 2010 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

By sallysense:

“just look at the bad dreams and nightmares around this country and overseas… and see for yourself…”

I’m seeing it alright, but not as a dreams, I don’t dwell on dreams but on reality, to me it is real, the suffering of people is real, I don’t take it as some kind of a nightmare, it wouldn’t even occur to me to refer to the situation as “a bad dream”, and just for the record (referring to the “nightmares around this country”) I don’t care about neither american people nor about your country, you brought it all on yourselves, what did you think cultivating greed, breeding compulsive consumers and lusting for power and world domination would bring your country? It would bring you exactly what you are seeing right now.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 3, 2010 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

As anyone knows, I’m the first to criticize Hedges for sloppy scholarship and wildly unsupported assumptions.

But this article was different.  It was almost lyrical in its tone and I enjoyed it immensely.

The injustice done to Howard Zinn in the FBI’s ham-handed attempts to silence him are attacks on us all.

There have been some comments on Zinn’s own biases and problems with his scholarship—but isn’t that part of what academic freedom is about? The RIGHT to make an argument, even if it’s flat-out wrong?  I’ve seen many scholars who took viewpoints that were only dubiously defensible both on the left and the right.

But clearly Zinn’s superlative value as a historian comes as revisionist.  Revisionism can be right, it can be wrong, but it’s TRUE value is making us challenge our premises and assumptions.  If, for example, Howard Zinn was able to get us to accept as valid that Columbus reaching the Americas was DEVASTATING to the people here, and not a great step forward, it changes all perspective—and that is what moves social science and all sciences forward.

It seems to me that Zinn’s great contribution is to loudly and clearly demonstrate the value of 3 words:

Challenge established assumptions.

(Ofer, you need to do a little more research into the Aztecs.  Cortez is certainly not the main or only source of knowledge about them.  Cortez had no way of knowing that Moctezuma’s predecessor sacrificed 22,000 to dedicate his new temple, because he was dead long before Cortez arrived.  While the Spanish destroyed almost every Codex of Aztec culture they found, some survived, as did other original sources.)

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By jimch, August 3, 2010 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

One of the problems with Zinn and perhaps even C. Hedges is that they are convinced that only they themselves have all the answers to all the problems the nations of the world experience, especially the one in which they reside. They never run for public office where they might make a difference in getting laws enacted. They just sit back and take potshots at those who are elected. How easy is that! The nation’s rife with those of that ilk.

I take umbrage with Zinn’s dissing policemen who carry sidearms. My dad was one. There was no more gentle a man than he until some perpetator made bad decisions.

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By bogi666, August 3, 2010 at 3:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gerard, a passage from Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but yourself can free your mine”, the prison’s of the mind that the vast majority of in and don’t even know it which is the prison of mindlessness a condition that is institutionalized by government propaganda, business ads, pretend christian churches with false doctrines. These institutions give mindlessness legitimacy.

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By bogi666, August 3, 2010 at 3:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

truedigger3, FYI, it was Stalin’s defeat of the NAZI’s that saved capitalism. Your patrois is interesting. What did the Jamaican say when seeing his 1st streetlight, moon pon stick.

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By ofersince72, August 3, 2010 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

I sure thought that would bring some contoversy
Truth Digger…...

It certainly makes more sence the other story…
It isn’t that far fetched Truth Digger.
The trotskys were all againsy Stalin making those pacts,
treadties, with the imperial counties os Europe.

I will write more one day on it…right now i am
a little delerious from working on a vehicle all day and
dehydrated amd hot.

for a preliminary do you believ the Aztecs commited
mass human sacrifice, and if you do why???who told you.?
hopefu;;uy oeee be ,me se;gf om tje ,prmomg/
but gpt tje ghr head pon the truck but it was hot all day
by myselg

after sleeip i explin aztex syndoron and just why
statlin was a spood for the internatioal investor.
this is nothing new, the spooks have always done that.

Stalin was their man…take of movement..expell trosky
kill his followers,,  USSR became a good capitold gove
with a militay inustrial complic if their own.
Played the sill cold war hgame with us ....we both use thei for exuce to bueil beg gig gibib bib bi big big bomgs
it was a g a m e that cold war…right from the strt…..

our news…........AZTEC SYNDROME…..............
WHILE UR WAINTIN   SEE WHO DOCUMENTED AZTEC HISTOURY

YOU WILL FINE JUST ONE PERSON DID,  CORTEZ’‘SECRETARY
HOW CONVIENEINT…..........

STICK WITH M TRUTH DIGGER ,,,, TOMOROW NOTHER DAY
I PUT THE HEAD,MANIFOLD….VAVLSE SEATS…...IN HOT HOT
SUN ALDAUY AND READY TO PASS OUT….....................

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By truedigger3, August 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

Re: By ofersince72, August 2 at 12:59 pm
offersince72 wrote:

“Russia was prime pickings for a revolution, the first in which labor might triumph over oligarchy.  Using all of the overt and covert weapons at their disposal, the international investors were able to infiltrate this movement.  Soon , one of their own , a man named Stalin was installed into this movement, by the time of the October suprise was well entrenced even though Trotsky was still the number two man behind Lenin.”
_____________________________________________________

Offersince72,

Previously you provided many very valid insights and opinions but now you write the above drivel.
You are telling us that “Mighty” Joseph Stalin was agent of the Western Bankers.??!!!!
From where did you get that nonsense. You are the first one who opined such krapp. Are you drunk? Are you high on something.
I am very sad to see you discredit yourself in such a manner.

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By c.hanna, August 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment

Yes, whites have a long litany of bad and evil history. But why are not more intellectual writers speaking of the “invisible hand”.

The lowly grunts in FBI are damaging but they would not have the ability to operate if they were not hired to protect the highest echelons of society, which in our modern day involves a Trans-Atlantic Financial Cartel.

For sure, Zinn had his troubles with the “authorities”...none of them fair.

But how about looking at the life of Eustace Mullins who wrote the “Secret of the Federal Reserve”?  (you can read it on-line and it should be required reading for all students)

Mullins lost his job at the Library of Congress, had attempts on his life, and had to leave the country on more than one occasion due to all the threats.

You know, we really are not going to get anywhere until we start zeroing in on the very highest of the high. Of course, people have, such as Mullins, as well as many others who lost their lives for getting too close to the truth.

There does seem to be people who have infiltrated into this path purposely to make the whole line of thought seem ridiculous….such as david icke and his lizard people garbage. Sadly, that keeps real genuine interest thwarted.

There does however seem to be a branch of people who are actually speaking truth, but highly ignored due to the associations with “lizard people” etc. They speak of the Committee of 300 and other organizations at the top which even have spiritual implications.

Like You say in this article, Mr Hedges, these little FBI grunts actually wasted their time. So why bother with them?  They are a waste of time.

And time is ticking, we need to start directing our energies to the real “movers and shakers” behind the world totalitarian system that is being erected about us.

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By kerryrose, August 2, 2010 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

zagostino makes a good point.  You are dangerous when you have nothing to lose.

Why don’t young people protest the wars?  Because they can’t be drafted.  When the youth protested the Vietnam war they had everything to lose, and fought for survival.

We won’t protest anything while we still have a stake in the system. I know this because I have at times felt like I had nothing left to lose, and it was liberating.  No one can take anything from you because everything is already gone, or no one can damage you because they can’t do worse than the damage you have suffered.

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By zagostino, August 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges,

Your article made me think of A famous quote by
Eugene Debs: “While there is a lower class I am in
it; while there is a criminal element I am of it;
while there is a soul in prison, I am not free”

I wish that kindred spirits such as you and those
who read Truth Dig could coalesce into the tip of a
spear that would drive deep into the heart of the
corrupt plutocratic State that this Nation has
become and transform it into a true democratic one.

Unfortunately we - and I mean those who look to
Zinn, Chomsky, Said, Vidal, and others, for for
Perspective, and are sitting safely behind their
computer screens blogging, emailing, watching
Colbert and Stewart, and living the safe life,
making a good living, as I am now - will never
organize to upset the status quo; unlike those you
are teaching who would more than likely be inclined
to man the barricades once they’ve read a “People’s
History,”


Great Book: The Fall of Public Man - on the Social
Psychology of Capitalism by Richard Sennett: Dated
but dead on….

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By JDmysticDJ, August 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

By diamond, August 2 at 6:10 pm——————————————————————————————
By ofersince72, August 2 at 1:52 pm

“...that is just why I don’t bother to
even indulge in mainstream, we don’t even know if that Time story and picture is for real/But Time, used timing very well didn’t they

Just as wikileaks are revealed,”

a trumped up story with a picture…

——————————————————

Nine months ago, The Daily Beast reported on an horrific crime: An Afghan teenager’s nose and ears were cut off by vindictive in-laws after she tried to run away from an abusive marriage.

Time’s timing is curious. Also Christine Amanpour showed the Time cover on “ABC’s This Week…” and asked if this incident was a good reason to stay in Afghanistan. She implied that the Taliban were responsible.

Lalalai Joya (Female elected representative to Afghan Government.)

“Rapes, kidnappings, acid attacks, domestic violence and the murder of women are increasing rapidly. Most women in many provinces are living in hell and are treated as less than human—the killing of a woman is like the killing a bird. Unfortunately the true picture of the horrible suffering of Afghan people—and especially its forgotten women—are not reflected in the world media. Instead, the mainstream media sells lies under the name of truth. Truth is always suppressed and threatened. THE WOMEN"S RIGHTS SITUATION IS AS CATASTROPHIC AS IT WAS UNDER THE TALIBAN. The level of self-immolation among afghan women has gone awfully high.”


“Self-immolation on the rise among women.”

“HERAT, 9 September 2008 (IRIN) - Sarah, 20, set herself ablaze in a desperate bid to end her life after four years of marriage to a drug addict in Sheendand District in western Afghanistan.


“Over the past six months, at least 47 self-immolation cases have been recorded by Herat city hospital alone, of whom seven were saved but 40 died.”

“Her?t is presently in full control of Afghanistan’s new central government…”

JDmysticDJ, August 2 at 12:35 pm

Lalalai Joya meeting U.S. Soldier.

“Joya accepted the apology, but said: “It is your government that must apologise first of all to great people like you: they are deceiving you and they use you for not a good cause; they use you for a war which only adds to the suffering of my people.”

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By gerard, August 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

Somebody early on in this string referred said:  legislation such as “the 1964 civil rights bill, which did NOTHING for the majority.”
  This statement is typical of people who simply do not—maybe cannot—relate to the idea of “justice for all”, why it appears frequently in American Constitutional law, and why it is vitally important.
  Injustice for those who are unjustly treated impacts all of society for the worse.  Those who do not get equal rights to education hold the entire country back.  Those who suffer from unjust treatment without redress open the doors for mistreatment of all.
  We are related, you and me and everybody else—something which should be taught and discussed in every public and private school classroom in America, from along about the fourth grade upward.
  Although it isn’t necessary to refer to Christian teachings here, it won’t hurt to mention that quotation somewhere from Jesus’ teachings:  “Do unto others etc.’  “Inasmuch as ye do it unto others, ye do it unto me.” The Golden Rule, I believe.
  It is this sad, sick and lonely American disposition of singularity—me, mine versus you, yours—which is at the root of nine-tenths of our problems. Not that we’re alone in supreme self-self-centeredness, but ... we are the only ones who can do anything about us. obviously.  And to have to reiterate this household truth on this site at this late date is ... well ... indicative, to say the lesst.

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By James M. Martin, August 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

You say that one of your students asked: “If you were a Native American, what would have been the difference between Columbus and Hitler?” I hope you replied: “About 500 years.”

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By wil, August 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Zinn—what a CIA fraud.  Failed the litmus test of “who committed 9/11?”  No doubt brought along a lot of good people also—disinfo that was his job.

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By brewerstroupe, August 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

This is a curious video of Norman Dodd on the capture of History by foundations such as Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4446387174017711777#

There was a time not so long ago when I would have regarded it as just that, a curiousity. In the context of this article on Zinn, it becomes more more interesting.

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By diamond, August 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

By ofersince72, August 2 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Very good JD,  that is just why I don’t bother to
even indulge in mainstream, we don’t even know if that
Time story and picture is for real/
  But Time, used timing very well didn’t they.

Just as wikileaks are revealed,

a trumped up story with a picture…

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By ardee, August 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Ed Harges, August 2 at 5:40 pm

I wonder at a summary dismissal of almost three hundred million people. I also wonder at the complete disregard for so many authors, poets, lyricists, painters and philosophers who, through the decades since the birth of this nation are so very undervalued in Mr. Harges’ post and mind.

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By MADALINE E. STATES, August 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great thinkers and social reformer have been the targets of the, Powers That Be,” since the time of Plato if not before that time.  Like vessels of light, these rare beings are sent to guide humankind toward a moral and socially just stance.

It is one thing to admire the likes of Howard Zinn, yet to act upon the needs in society which he and others like him address is the challenge and the responsibility of us all. The time has never been more obvious when the need for action were greater.  As mentioned by Zinn,  it is those who love their nation that will speak out against its nation’s crimes.  Act NOW, Act Today.

Regards,

Ruhullah

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By sallysense, August 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

(regarding a previous comment)...

((“sallysense

“they watch the misleaders and misleadings remain in the picture!”...

(tell your lawmakers)... wake up our government!...

Who are the misleaders? Hedges? Zinn? What did you imply?
Wake up the government? Who said it is asleep? Judging by its activity which includes banksters bailouts, military spending increases, plans to attack Iran, I’d say it is pretty much awake, and who said it is your government anyway, Ben Bernanke would differ with you on that one, just like you said misleading remain in the picture”))

hiya diman’n'all!... regarding your previous comment… ((as copied above))...

////
00
o
O

“come fly with me through the skies of imply!”...

\\\
00
o
o

“no thank you… that air space is already way too overcrowded with programmed drones and fuel tanks full on illusion!”...

(interpreting and implying are not one and the same)...

howard zinn shares awareness… (just read some of his things and see for yourself)... and chris hedges shares zinn… (see the article at the top)...

you copied the following to refer to…

“(tell your lawmakers)... wake up our government!”...

and omitted the rest…

“to care about the basics!... ““and stop misleading!”“... and end this war!... and don’t waste anymore!”...

a usa citizen’s government is the united states government…

our government is asleep… it sleepwalks through the motions of doing things with eyes closed to the truth surrounding those situations in mention…

(taxpayer money used for wall street bonuses… humans and resources wasted away for the sake of deception-based wars… etc… etc… etc)...

just look at the bad dreams and nightmares around this country and overseas… and see for yourself…

(and tell your lawmakers)... wake up our government!... to care about the basics!... and stop misleading!... and end this war!... and don’t waste anymore!...

(and here’s one of many links you can use)... http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials

(and there’s lotsa other stuff you can do too!)...

the best of wishes’n'ways’n'todays to each’n'everyone!... smile

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By Ed Harges, August 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

In America, you can rake all the muck you want, reveal all the injustice you want,
but it doesn’t make much difference, because here’s the dirtiest secret of all:
Americans, on the whole, are not very nice people. Just watch their favorite
movies. Read the lyrics and hear the leaden thud of their popular songs.
Americans admire bullying and aggression. Their heads are full of magic religious
and romantic nationalist garbage. Their fantasies are mostly about violent revenge
over others, winning the lottery, being crowned a princess through some random
stroke of fate, or being the sole survivor after some disaster, treading triumphantly
over the corpses of the losers. Yecch. What a bunch of greedy, fat, ignorant,
mean, useless, graceless jerks.  There aren’t enough exceptions to change things,
and there never will be.

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By Tobysgirl, August 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

dkenneth, hawk is not spelled HOCK. Duh.

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

I had thought , especially of those that called them-
selves “progressives” that it was understood that
Time Mag was no more than a type of “People Magazine”
and had little relevance about the American Political
Scene…

Howard Zinn knew this and spoke of it
Cris Hedges knows of this and should speak of it.

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Pardon me

  I mentioned how convienient it was for Time Mag
to release a story with a picture after the leaks
came out

  depicting a savageness of the enemy, that we don’t
know is real or not, I sure am not going to take
Time Mag’s word, who helped bring on this war and the
Iraq war in the first place…...........................

Quit putting words in my mouth that I did not say, you
are only making a fool of yourself.

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

There you go again Diamond , putting words in my
mouth that I did not say…

  Nice try again, but it won’t work this time either

I don’t believe that I even mentioned wikileaks on this
thread.

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By diamond, August 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Are you saying Wikileaks is a trumped up story and a picture? If you are, ofersince72, you’re a fool. Is it any wonder George W. Bush was able to install himself in the White House -twice. Is it any wonder the FBI was able to frame two men for the anthrax letters while the gullible looked on and believed every lie they were told? The FBI went around killing people in their beds in the sixties (and I’ve seen interviews with one of the men who did it who openly admits it) and no one gave a damn. Who watches the watchers and gives witness to their atrocities?: Wikileaks and people like Howard Zinn, of course. People who don’t believe the truth when it’s before their eyes have been brainwashed and these days that’s 99% of what the mainstream media does.

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, August 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A course based on “A People’s History of the United
States” should be required high school curricula,
especially in Texas and in the South.

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By prole, August 2, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

“Did any of the agents who followed Zinn ever realize how they wasted their time? Do those following us around comprehend how manipulated they are? Do they understand that their primary purpose, as it was with Zinn, is not to prevent terrorism but discredit and destroy social movements as well as protect the elite from those who would expose them?” …Why don’t you ask them?  Or does it even matter to them?  Those “854,000 people, all of whom hold top-secret security clearances” at those “1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies working on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States” understand that they’ve got pretty good jobs in a pretty bad economy and that’s usually they’re top priority so the rest is somebody else’s problem. It doesn’t much matter if it’s the military-industrial complex or the prison-industrial complex or the intelligence-propaganda complex, most of these personnel don’t go much deeper into the reasons for what they do than the pay and benefits. The irony is that many of them could just as well have been apparatchiks in a communist system or social workers in a social democracy if you paid them enough. Even Zinn wasn’t immune. “He was rather an example of how genuine intellectual thought is always subversive. It always challenges prevailing assumptions as well as political and economic structures”…in theory. But Zinn had a pretty comfortable life, living to the ripe old age of 87 (and more power to him!). He resided right down the street from Noam Chomsky in Lexington, one of the most affluent suburbs in Amerika. His tenure at B.U. was never seriously threatened and he spoke frequently in front of audiences large and small without incident, just as Chomsky does. So “we” are still not clear where all this is leading. To a bourgeois “middle class” consumerist way of life for everyone with your cars and gargantuan refrigerators or to a radical ecological society? “A People’s History of the United States” is great but A Planet’s History of the United States would be even better. There is more to the United States than people.

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By Henry Braun, August 2, 2010 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In Memory of Howard Zinn

People called Mister own the world and TRUMP
with big feet up and down upon it.
To find America they crossed
the ocean on pawned jewels,fording,fording,
affording.
On Easy Street they live, sharing
the zipcode of GIANTS,our royal
Misters of the bottom line.

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By diman, August 2, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

sallysense

“they watch the misleaders and misleadings remain in the picture!”...

(tell your lawmakers)... wake up our government!...

Who are the misleaders? Hedges? Zinn? What did you imply?
Wake up the government? Who said it is asleep? Judging by its activity which includes banksters bailouts, military spending increases, plans to attack Iran, I’d say it is pretty much awake, and who said it is your government anyway, Ben Bernanke would differ with you on that one, just like you said misleading remain in the picture.

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

Once everyone is well aware of the

A Z T E C   S Y N D R O N E

history and the future can be put in perspective.

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By felicity, August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

How interesting is it that Leninists hated liberals. 
Whatever the power structure in place, ‘Red’ or
‘White,’ free-thinkers are always a threat to power.

Zinn spoke for the disposable among us who are living
in a society in which the privilege of disposable
income is contingent on the existence of disposable
people.

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By diman, August 2, 2010 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

No one in our suffering world has the right to be called “progressive” while the wars are being faught in Afghanistan and Iraq, while we have children-soldiers and mass starvation and genocide in Africa, we all share one collective responsibility for what is going on in the world today.

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sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, August 2, 2010 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

(hmmm)...

\\\
00
o
o

“awareness makes for a great disappearing act… but most folks aren’t here to see that”...

////
00
o
O

“so where are they?”...

\\\
00
o
o

“they’re stuck in the rut of not-knowing-any-better”...

////
00
o
O

“and what do they do there?”...

\\\
00
o
o

“they watch the misleaders and misleadings remain in the picture!”...

(tell your lawmakers)... wake up our government!... to care about the basics!... and stop misleading!... and end this war!... and don’t waste anymore!...

(and here’s one of many links you can use)... http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials

(and there’s lotsa other stuff you can do too!)...

the best of wishes’n'ways’n'todays to each’n'everyone!... smile

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By gerard, August 2, 2010 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Chris, thanks for what you are doing in teaching.  I was about to say “in prisons” and then Immediately I realized that we are all in prison—to varying forms of ignorance and confinement.  We must continue to teach each other—an obligation to life on earth.

There are many lesser Zinns and Chomskys, and will be more as the urgency of ending wars increases. War is a dying organization overloaded with out-of-date ignorance and crime.  Peace and understanding is being born through the labors of people like Chomsky and Zinn—Ghandi, King, Mandela, the Berrigans, Tutu, Rosa Parks, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein and many, many thousands of others right on down to obscure workers in the front lines of all the peace and social justice organizations—in spite of FBI snoops, belittlers and defeatists. Thanks, Chris!

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Howard Zinn was emphatic

on asking citizenry to look at who the owners of the media
were that they were reading and following.

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Very good JD,  that is just why I don’t bother to
even indulge in mainstream, we don’t even know if that
Time story and picture is for real/
  But Time, used timing very well didn’t they.

Just as wikileaks are revealed,

a trumped up story with a picture…

Report this

By stephen geller, August 2, 2010 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Howard asked me to adapt sections of his PEOPLE’S HISTORY for a television
series to be produced by Damon & Affleck at - believe it or not - Fox TV. I was
delighted to do so, being an admirer of Zinn’s work, as well as - at that time - a colleague at Boston University.

What sections did I wish to adapt? asked Howard. I told him: any section he wished. I could do any of them.

He replied that he didn’t think I could do the Mexican-Black-Puritans-women’s sections, since I was a white male.
I thought that was ridiculous. He disagreed, and I said, “So Shakespeare
shouldn’t have written Macbeth—or only the English male parts?  Shaw
shouldn’t have written Pygmalion, because only a cockney lady could write
Liza Doolittle ?Moliere shouldn’t have written “The Misanthrope,” because he wasn’t one? And, most recently, Tony Kushner should never have written Roy Cohn, because the playwright wasn’t a monster?

I miss Howard, and his voice, and his work. But I don’t miss the stereotyping of a writer’s ability to empathize only with his sex/background/country. That’s
horseshit, and Howard - more than most - should have known better.

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By Michelle Mills, August 2, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The vengeance being taken on Pte Bradley Manning by the Obama administration for his alleged role in distributing the military documents exposing the brutality of the US war on Afghanistan demonstrates the continuation of the US government’s persecution of truth-tellers. I voted for Obama, hoping that he would be a change away from past administrations. I now see that he continues to be the same, albeit dressed in sheep’s clothing. The US public mostly continues on its ignorant acceptance of war, exploitation, imperialism and the persecution of those who point to the fact that “the emperor has no clothes.”

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

While Zinn did cover the red scare, some of it is
not “Americn” history so it wasn’t covered completely.

  By the beginning of the twentyty century, communism
was scaring the hell out of the international investors
and their puppet controlled imperialist nations.
Most of the citizenry of Europe was converting to
communism thought that remained until Post WWII when
the U.S. emerged as the world’s dominant power, and through coersion, covert activity in nations like
Greece, Turkey, and Italy, was able to suppress the
communists, this was really the reasoning for the so
often revered “Marshell Revcovery Act”.

  Back to the turn of the twentyth centruy when most
of the world’s labor parties had united under one banner
and was scaring the hell out of the world’s overlords.
Russia was prime pickings for a revolution, the first
in which labor might triumph over oligarchy.  Using all
of the overt and covert weapons at their disposal, the
international investors were able to infiltrate this
movement.  Soon , one of their own , a man named Stalin
was installed into this movement, by the time of the
October suprise was well entrenced even though Trotsky
was still the number two man behind Lenin.
  During the 1920s the red scare was every bit as
dramatic as it was during the 1950s era of McCarthyism
here in the United States.  The International Investors
could not let this international labor movement survive.
We know how Stalin , eventually was able to expell
Trotsky.  We know how Stalin went on a rampage murdering
and imprisoning those that had been loyal to Trotsky.
MORE HISTORY LESSONS COMING FROM…....OFER
NEXT CHAPTER…..THE REAL REASONS AND CAUSES OF
WWI AND WWII….

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By Retortnegid, August 2, 2010 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The current economic catastrophe, the work-product of militant corporatism under Bush, should be a learning experience for FBI Director Mueller; that he experienced the nature of fascism firsthand one evening while visiting a hospitalized John Ashcroft in great pain.

The pushy A.G. Alberto Gonzales apparently set off alarms that night in 2007 as he attempted to compel a sick Attorney General to sign an order allowing illegal wiretapping, which had already been in place long before 9/11.

Mueller had the opportunity to experience fascist behavior first hand and clearly didn’t like it. He cannot now deny that what Zinn wrote was true and that the Bureau had it backwards.

The right wing is the problem and always has been.

Those of us who have personally felt the hand of fascism ala visits by Treasury’s Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture under Bush-Cheney executive order, know the threat to the First Amendment is ongoing, very real and cannot be tolerated in a true democracy.
————-

Another excellent piece, Chris.

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By JDmysticDJ, August 2, 2010 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Zinn is missed. He was a man who valued the truth and rational thought more than his own best interests. No wonder the FBI considered him to be a threat; this kind of thinking is dangerous to the goals, power, and authority of the lesser enlightened status quos, which the FBI blindly and ignorantly serves.

I can’t help but wonder how Zinn would react to the Time Magazine cover story about Bibi Aisha, the Afghani teen whose nose and ears were cut off because she had offended her in-laws. In all honesty, the picture and the thought of act being performed, elicit a visceral response in me. I imagine that if the perpetrators were brought before me, I could put a cap in their brains myself. Fortunately, I’m able to suppress these thoughts of violence by using rational thought.

The seemingly venerable old Main Stream Media Magazine, “Time,” is, in my opinion, guilty of warmongering. Individual acts of violence do not provide a rationale for war, or provide justification for wars. Wars that create an environment for:  the killing of innocents, many of them children, individuals psychopathically turning automatic weapons on crowds of non-combatant shoppers in a market, machine gunning over 150 old men, women and children, in a ditch, using white phosphorus on civilian populations, (Apply white phosphorus to your nose and ears, and see what happens.) and on, and on…Actual, very real accounts of the atrocities of war confront us daily.  War is about atrocity, some of these atrocities are deemed to be acceptable, because of war, while others are deemed unacceptable, but they all are the result of war, and only deemed acceptable because of war.

Another perspective of the Afghanistan war and its affect on Afghani females is provided by Malalai Joya, an elected representative of the Afghan Government.

“Rapes, kidnappings, acid attacks, domestic violence and the murder of women are increasing rapidly. Most women in many provinces are living in hell and are treated as less than human—the killing of a woman is like the killing a bird. Unfortunately the true picture of the horrible suffering of Afghan people—and especially its forgotten women—are not reflected in the world media. Instead, the mainstream media sells lies under the name of truth. Truth is always suppressed and threatened. The women’s rights situation is as catastrophic as it was under the Taliban. The level of self-immolation among afghan women has gone awfully high.”

Recently Joya encountered a young soldier,

“Chiroux, who served in Afghanistan in 2005, told Joya: “I want to tell you, Malalai, how sorry I am for the violence that my Army has done to your people, to your country. I want to apologize to you for the role that I played in it.”

Joya accepted the apology, but said: “It is your government that must apologise first of all to great people like you: they are deceiving you and they use you for not a good cause; they use you for a war which only adds to the suffering of my people.”

War, what is it good for…?

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By bogi666, August 2, 2010 at 8:30 am Link to this comment
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J. Edgar Hoover investigating Howard Zinn a WW2 bombardier while Hoover pranced around secretly in dresses,it just just doesn’t get any more bizarre than that. This stuff can’t be made up, even the KGB wasn’t this bizarre.

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By FRTothus, August 2, 2010 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

The FBI is, as ever, our National Political Police, our own Gestapo. 
Zinn’s books are full of encouragement, full of how effective non-violent political action can be and has been throughout our history. 
What may be even more encouraging for those who think nothing changes, those who think voices and perspectives such as Zinn’s are lost in the noise of the chattering classes and the din of perpetual war, please consider that what JFK could do in Vietnam with enthusiastic public and business support, Reagan couldn’t do in Central America, because the public would no longer stand for it.  Something had changed.  Reagan had to break the law by going around Congress for his wars of aggression.  Another positive:  Immense world-wide protests BEFORE a war, vis: the US invasion of Iraq - a first in human history, and a very proud moment in the fight against empire and imperial tyranny.
The great lesson is that it is our own State which is our greatest enemy, not some drummed-up foreign CIA-installed tin-pot dictator, and the real threat to our liberties are from US officials carrying out their lawful policies supporting the National Security State, the world’s most dangerous and murderous terror organization. The antidote is, as Zinn pointed out, in the power of our numbers and our refusal to believe or even listen to their lies, and in the refusal to participate in the crimes of State. Zinn’s greatest contribution is perhaps showing us again that positive change never comes from the top, that governments do not grant liberties and then fade away, and that all the positive change we have ever had has come from popular dissent and organizing, which is always opposed by those in power.

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By Ron Orf, August 2, 2010 at 7:37 am Link to this comment
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I am also appalled by the FBI wasting resources following Hoard Zinn around.
History has shown that J. Edgar Hoover was a truly awful person. That being
said, so was Howard Zinn.  His theories of history are ultra-simplistic and will
bend ANY fact to show that ANYTHING the American government does is evil,
even if it means excusing Cuban, Russian, Cambodian,  and Chinese executions
of anyone they find not quite pure enough. The U.S. has much to apologize for,
but even with its faults, much to be proud of.

Name ONE country in the world with our incredible human diversity that passed
legislation such as the 1964 civil rights bill, which did NOTHING for the
majority, but guaranteed rights for a minority. I do not see a Muslim, or ANY
country for that matter, promoting affirmative action for those at the bottom. I
think that MAYBE Lyndon Johnson did SOME good, and was not entirely evil. I
think that Fidel Castro just MIGHT have a few character flaws when it came to
civil rights and freedom of speech. I think Mao and Stalin Might have gotten a
little carried away with their attempts to purify society, but Zinn really does not
find their flaws very concerning. He concentrates solely on slanting every issue
of American history into a negative light while being very forgiving of those so
much worse because of their socialistic pronouncements.

Hoover was a far worse person than Zinn, but neither float MY boat.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 2, 2010 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
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If the FBI spent its time following real criminals, the 3000 people who died on 9/11 might still be alive and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might never have happened.  Is there a name for that kind of incompetence?

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By ofersince72, August 2, 2010 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Cris, thank you for taking us progressives through
a review of Zinn’s history book

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By Scott Griffith, August 2, 2010 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

The article could just as accurately be titled “Why the Feds Fear Thinkers” full stop.

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By jim bier, August 2, 2010 at 6:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My daughter took an AP history class using Zinn’s book in Franklin County, VA HS 20+ years ago. High pass rate and transformed lives.

See this book for additional suggestions for clarity and inspiration.  http://store.yesmagazine.org/other-products/americans-who-tell-the-truth-book

The magazine and its newsletter are awesome, too.

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By M Henri Day, August 2, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

Samuel Longhorne Clemens, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, Howard Zinn, Avram Noam Chomsky - whenever, after the latest outrage, I tend to conflate the US government with the people of that country, I regain my intellectual equilibrium by considering people like the above. How sad that they - and millions of others with similar, if less well-articulated points of view - seem to possess no influence over «their» government - and how disappointed many of them must feel with respect to the acts and policies of the administration which came to power on the backs of their support in the presidential elections of 2008 !...

Henri

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