September 28, 2011

Howard Zinn in Black and White

Filed under: Mainstream Media — Tags: — Russell Bangs @ 2:37 am


Reading some stuff yesterday I came upon this survey of slimeball corporate liberal academics taking the opportunity to attack Howard Zinn after his death. (Well, more like sneer at him in their typical cowardly passive-aggressive way. But at least waiting until after he was dead was enough for them to overcome their cowardice about “speaking out” at all.)
It was fun goofing on Lepore, the first scribbler discussed in the post. I bet I know exactly how she first became acquainted with Zinn’s name.
But I especially liked this quote, Sean Wilentz smearing him in an obituary:

What he did was take all of the guys in white hats and put them in black hats, and vice versa.

His view was that objectivity was neutrality, which I think is a formula for bad history. Objectivity is not neutrality; it is the deployment of evidence and building an argument based on historical logic. That’s how we engage in rational discourse. To see history as a battleground of warring perspectives is to abandon the seat of reason.

He saw history primarily as a means to motivate people to political action that he found admirable. That’s what he said he did. It’s fine as a form of agitation — agitprop — but it’s not particularly good history.

As Proyect points out, “a battleground of warring perspectives” is exactly what history is. (I’ll add, what it has been since the advent of money, the state, formalized debt.)
Evidently anyone who’s accused of such things is in good company, and we see who the accusers are.

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