published Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Smith: The Cardinal Zinn of anti-Americanism

By Roger Smith
  • photo
    The late Howard Zinn, in his boo "A People's History of the United States," called for a redistribution of wealth to the masses.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Anti-Americanism is often synonymous with the Left. Whether it's the NAACP's hollow rhetoric about the lack of racial justice, the pathetic call from unions for more for government budget-busting pension programs, or Mr. Obama's deafening silence on American exceptionalism, they and their political benefactors never seem able to focus on the goodness of America.

The most "anti" of anti-Americanism, Howard Zinn, died three years ago, but his writings and influence are important to reflect upon as our children start another school year. He was a member of the Communist Party since 1949, and he left a covey of faithful admirers including some of the leading thinkers and historians of our time like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

Celebrity worshipers will reel in horror as they read this. Anyone who knows anything knows that Matt is so-o-o-o hot that he couldn't be a charlatan ... besides, what's a charlatan? And Willie, how dare me vilify Willie with his star spangled headband holding his long gray pig tails in place? Yep, they all held up Mr. Zinn as a "hero of the people." He made them giddy with his "stick it to the man" philosophy (whoever the man is), and his book "A People's History of the United States" (2.2 million copies) is their Zinn Bible. In it Mr. Zinn writes, "The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history." He calls for wealth redistribution to the masses so everything will be "free -- to everyone: food, housing, health care, education, transportation."

It's easy to dismiss such kooky ideas by wealthy elitists, but the concern is that such Zinnful thoughts have crept into our classrooms from liberal educators who subscribe to revisionist American history. They conveniently overlook thousands of indentured servants who came from the Old World to the New World in search of opportunities to work and worship and escape the heavy yoke of tyranny.

They neglect our Founding Fathers who put both their lives and honor on the line to pen their names to our Declaration of Independence. They ignore Horatio Alger stories that still abound in this country about poor people who rolled up their sleeves and used their God-given talents to "make it." Likewise, they overlook the contributions of folks who have made it in giving jobs and opportunities to tens of thousands of employees because of their success. You know the stories: Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Normandy, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Silicon Valley -- all remarkable records of successful Americans. Were they duped and under the control of the mythological "man"? I think not. Our children deserve to know about the real sacrifices and accomplishments of their countrymen; otherwise, as Cicero said, "Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child."

How does the rest of the world view our opportunities? Despite what Mr. Zinn believed, our embassies are overwhelmed with people trying to immigrate to the United States. During my career in the United States Air Force, I spent four overseas assignments in Iceland, Germany, Japan, and Greece. All are progressive countries politically, technologically, and environmentally; yet, none enjoy the freedoms and opportunities we take for granted. If you are born poor, chances are almost certain that you will die poor, and if you are born rich, you will die rich, even if you are an incompetent buffoon. I witnessed first-hand the old expression, "Yankee go home ... but take me with you!"

A great country like ours must permit the free debate of ideas and opinions, but we must also remember the worth of an opinion is only as good as the facts upon which it is based. Mr. Zinn's facts and those of his revisionist liberal disciples are woefully inaccurate, divisive, and misleading. Our children deserve better.

Roger Smith is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and a pilot with Southwest Airlines. He and his wife, Patti, live on Possum Creek near Soddy-Daisy.

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joelfthompson said...

I find it ironic that the author is a member of a powerful union himself, has a lucrative government pension and employed by a company whose founder and long time CEO is a Democrat.

September 7, 2013 at 8:29 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

When was the last time Mr. Smith looked at a US History Textbook or visiting a classroom? I don't recall Zinn's work ever being taught.

September 7, 2013 at 8:38 a.m.
librul said...

Mr. Roger Smith, you can go to hell by the shortest route. Howard Zinn enjoys far more respect among far more people than your diatribes will EVER earn for you and there's more wisdom in any one sentence he ever wrote than all the blather you will ever produce. Amerca's sins are her own, and nothing you can write in your blindered, worshipful style, will ever hide them. It is revealing that their exposure brings jingos like you out of the woodwork.

September 7, 2013 at 9:06 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Geeez, my grammar is awful. Shame on me.

September 7, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

ROGER SMITH, I could almost hear Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA" in the background as you wrote your drivel. You, sir, in your flag-waving, chest-pumping pride of what you think is the one and only correct notion of what constitutes a "real" American are precisely what is at the bottom of the rot that pervades this country. There is nothing wrong, nor is it "anti-American," to speak the truth about our past and expose our warts along with our beauty marks - and there are many, many warts to expose. Think what you will of Howard Zinn, he is a far greater American than you will ever be in your ribbon-bedecked dress blues and your dumbed-down, blindly subservient to the powers-that-be, "America right or wrong" attitude.

You have used a very broad brush to dismiss everything that Zinn writes in his history book as "woefully inaccurate, divisive, and misleading," without even bothering to point out so much as one instance of distortion or falsehood. I have not read his book in its entirety but I have read a great deal of it and I have yet to find one instance where he distorted or mislead on anything. I dare not brazenly proclaim that he writes with 100% accuracy throughout the entire book, but at the very least he has injected into our history a refreshing and much needed perspective, other than the Hallmark-card sentiment students have typically been fed about our presidents and other great figures and the famous/infamous events that have shaped this country.

Our children do deserve better, as you say. They deserve to be offered the chance to read from someone like Howard Zinn, who dares to speak the truth to the dumbed down masses and the corporate/military-minded powers like you who only want to shut him and others like him up.

September 7, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.
charivara said...

Anti-Americanism should be synonymous with the Right. Wether it is undermining the right for some to vote, denying women a constitutionally protected right, demanding government uphold certain religious beliefs, refusing to work with a president democratically elected twice by large majorities, or claiming that corporations have the same rights as actual persons.

If Mr. Smith knows as much about flying an airplane as he does about American history, if he ignores his gauges, instruments, and dials as he does the reality of current conditions in this country, I wouldn’t recommend traveling on any Southwest jets he pilots.

September 7, 2013 at 1:42 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Mr Smith remembers an America that never was quite what we thought, but we were riding high after WWII. America is now in a long term decline that has roots more than forty years back. The belief in American exceptionalism has caused much of America to be blind-sided by what seems to be a recent US decline.

With a false premise Mr Smith never had a chance to build his case to anyone but the poorly informed.

September 7, 2013 at 7:34 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Odd, I think of history being "corrected" from the eurocentric male exclusive view to one that considers more points of view. My childhood social studies was all about "taming" a wild land and "civilizing" a wild people, when in fact we did a lot of stupid stuff back then. At the very least we should acknowledge that the English arrived woefully unprepared to support themselves (no farmers came in the first wave) and the native americans were far more sophisticated than we thought. Of course, we know more today about this than in the 60's, so our texts should reflect that new understanding.

September 7, 2013 at 7:48 p.m.
librul said...

Mr. Smith would do well to review the actions of American government since before the turn of the 20th century - not the actions lauded by the jingo press, with which he is apparently quite familiar, but the actions copiously documented by William Blum in his book "Killing Hope".

It is described thusly on his web site and is a magnum opus that stands alongside Zinn's work:

"Is the United States a force for democracy? In this classic and unique volume that answers this question, William Blum serves up a forensic overview of U.S. foreign policy spanning sixty years. For those who want the details on our most famous actions (Chile, Cuba, Vietnam, to name a few), and for those who want to learn about our lesser-known efforts (France, China, Bolivia, Brazil, for example), this book provides a window on what our foreign policy goals really are.

"If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy of the past century, this is what crawls out… invasions … bombings … overthrowing governments … occupations … suppressing movements for social change … assassinating political leaders … perverting elections … manipulating labor unions … manufacturing “news” … death squads … torture … biological warfare … depleted uranium … drug trafficking … mercenaries …

"It’s not a pretty picture. It’s enough to give imperialism a bad name."

Hear, hear!

September 7, 2013 at 9:17 p.m.
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