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Zinn Is Dead—Long Live ‘Zinn’
Posted on Jan 28, 2010
I also did not foresee that as the horrors of the Bush years wore on, and the disappointment of Obama Year 1 would kick in, that I would find myself increasingly embracing what they have taught and what they have embodied; that they would be serving even more as a lodestone to me in these years than they did in my youth.
Howard’s death is thus a shock transcending the normal death of a friend or even loved one. Yes, the personal memories come tumbling out: watching a theatrical presentation in a cave north of Hanoi as Nixon got elected in November 1972, marveling at the morale of the Vietnamese compared to the despair we felt at the prospect of four more years of killing; spending the night in adjoining jail cells during the Redress demonstration, being so buoyed in the morning by his cheerfulness, smiles, wry but never cynical humor; marching together in a small march in Lexington, Mass., and then hearing him speak, out of the deepest possible knowledge and feeling, about how the ideals of the American Revolution, as contrasted with its reality, required opposing the Vietnam today; our e-mails, phone conversations and visits over these 40 years—with Howard always gracious, always committed, always kind, always interested and always interesting.
There is, you see, no “Zinn” or “Chomsky” among we baby-boomers, let alone the generations that follows us.
One of our beacons of integrity has now flickered out. Our world has suddenly become a little darker, a little colder, a little more bitter and a little more insane.
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My only consolation at this moment is knowing that though Howard Zinn the man has died, “Zinn” has not. I know that many of us will continue to be sustained in the difficult years to come by the answers we will receive when we find ourselves asking:
—What would Howard think, how would he see it?
—What would Howard say?
—How would Howard feel?
And, most important:
—What would Howard do?
Zinn has died. Long live “Zinn.”
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