❤❤❤ Howard Zinn Critique

Wednesday, December 08, 2021 12:08:05 AM

Howard Zinn Critique



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It would be difficult to overstate the degree to which A People's History has resonated with the American public. Although its perspective is unabashedly from the far left, its reach and influence extend far beyond that quarter with more than 2 million copies in print and prominent displays in suburban superstores. Zinn was a featured speaker in at the National Council for the Social Studies — the nation's largest gathering of social studies teachers. When he died two years later, his book rose to seventh on Amazon's best-sellers list. Wineburg, one of the world's top researchers in the field of history education, raises larger issues about how history should be taught.

He says that Zinn's desire to cast a light on what he saw as historic injustice was a crusade built on secondary sources of questionable provenance, omission of exculpatory evidence, leading questions and shaky connections between evidence and conclusions. Wineburg's critique focuses on the part of Zinn's narrative that covers the mid-thirties to the Cold War. That claim, Wineburg explains, is based on three anecdotal bits — a quote from a black journalist, a quote from a black student and a poem published in the black press — and excludes any evidence to the contrary. Indeed, says Wineburg, while Zinn pulled his anecdotes from a secondary source, Lawrence Wittner's book Rebels Against War , Zinn ignored evidence in that same book that undermines his claim.

Among the examples Zinn overlooks is Wittner's point that 24 percent of the registrants eligible for the war were African American, while the percentage of draft-evasion cases involving blacks was only 4. And a similar trend held with conscientious objectors. Similarly, Zinn roots his argument that the Japanese were prepared to surrender before the United States dropped the atomic bomb on a diplomatic cable from the Japanese to the Russians, supposedly signaling a willingness to capitulate.

Wineburg writes that Zinn not only excludes the responses to the cable, but also that he fails in the later editions of the book to incorporate the vast new scholarship that emerged after the death of the Emperor Hirohito with the publication of memoirs and new availability of public records, all of which support the position of Japan's resolve to fight to the last. Wineburg acknowledges that Zinn's book was an important contribution when first published. While the standard textbooks of that time presented a certainty about one view of the nation's history, from Manifest Destiny to the United States' moral superiority in the Cold War, Zinn put forward largely overlooked alternative perspectives, such as how slaves viewed the Constitution and how the Cherokees felt about President Andrew Jackson.

Zinn weaved a seamless unified theory of oppression in which the rich and powerful afflict the poor and disenfranchised. A professor emeritus at the University of Vermont who lived in Washington, D. He based his findings on his research while on fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, where he spent two years looking through textbooks. Loewen prided himself on pointing out the socialist beliefs of Helen Keller or the diversity of American Indian culture. But they were too soon out of slavery and so they screwed up and white folks had to take control again.

He was born in Decatur, Illinois, his father a doctor and his mother a teacher and librarian. While studying sociology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, during the height of the civil rights movement, he spent the early part of auditing courses at Mississippi State University, while also visiting Tougaloo College and the Tuskegee Institute.

Before establishing himself as an author, Loewen co-wrote a textbook which helped lead to a legal battle that anticipated current debates over how race should be taught. In , he and Dr. Loewen and others sued. In , U.

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