The Aha! Moment
On a cold January night in 2019 as I was checking the sources of Howard Zinn’s bestselling A People’s History of the United States while writing my book, Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America, I let out a little yell. I had found something to take down a Marxist historian whose America-hating bias had been arousing the ire of Americans since 1980, when it was first published.
I had taught college English for twenty years and I knew that being a leftist was a prerequisite to hiring, publication, and promotion in the humanities. Marxism infused literary theory.
But I had found that Zinn had done something for which my students had faced disciplinary action and possible expulsion.
I had caught an academic historian in the act of plagiarism, pages and pages of passages only slightly altered, lifted from a paperback screed about Christopher Columbus by radical novelist Hans Koning. He did the same with historian Gary Nash. Among Zinn’s papers at New York University, I found a letter from historian Edward Countryman complaining politely about using his essay without acknowledgement.
I had the goods on Zinn! Fake Indian Ward Churchill could not be fired from his position as ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for calling 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns.” But with assistance from the Board of Regents, he was fired in 2007 for research misconduct involving plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication.
Zinn had done the same. He had distorted what his sources said, for example, twisting Douglas Pike’s portrayal of the Viet Cong as guilty of “genocide” to being teachers of villagers about democracy. Although Zinn had died in 2010, I thought my exposé would take down his propagandistic “history.”
The Dirty Job
While I had been used to reading bizarre interpretations of literary “texts,” I thought that historians—even those on the left—would take note. Even if the profession had shifted towards investigating minutia of the lives of once overlooked groups, such as bisexual shoe cobblers in colonial Boston, instead of “great men,” the American Historical Association (AHA) still displayed the standards. Those on the left who had criticized Zinn, such as Michael Kammen and Michael Kazin, had criticized Zinn for failing to give progressives due credit for reforms—not for research misconduct.
No one had yet gone through A People’s History systematically to check Zinn’s scholarship. Historians had more important things to do. But they were grateful that I had done the “dirty job,” as I liked to say in my talks, alluding to the show by that name hosted by Mike Rowe. Someone has to pump out the septic tank. Someone had to uncover the lies in the noxious, odiferous swill of historical garbage of A People’s History. In the fall of 2019, at a conservative academic meeting when during our roundtable introductions I held up my just-published book, the professors applauded.
In Debunking Howard Zinn, I briefly described several historians who had been punished for research misconduct, such as Michael Bellesiles, David Irving, Stephen Ambrose, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
On that January night I thought leftists who dismissed criticisms of Zinn’s biases and anti-Americanism as nothing more than disagreement about “perspective” might take notice.
The Leftist Non-Response and Response
After my book was released on August 20, 2019, the media requests for interviews streamed in from conservative outlets. But the only request from the left was by radio host Thom Hartmann. At the scheduled time, when no call came, I called the producer. Apologizing for the scheduling mix-up, she said that Hartmann would be in touch to reschedule. I am still waiting.
However, I would learn that leftists were aware of my book. They revealed themselves after I had served as a panelist at the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives on September 17, 2020, after a summer of coast-to-coast protests and riots over the death of George Floyd. In my five-minute statement I described Zinn’s “fake history” as “based on falsified evidence, misquotations with critical words left out, and plagiarized, disreputable sources.” President Trump, then in his speech, reiterated that “the left-wing rioting and mayhem,” were “the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools,” namely, “propaganda tracts like those of Howard Zinn. . . .”
On the train ride back to Clinton, New York, as I checked the news I was hit with the flood of attacks on the conference—and on me. The Zinn Education Project, which promotes Zinn’s work through downloadable classroom lessons and lobbying, accused me of traveling “the country attacking Zinn and the Zinn Education Project.” (How did they know I had been traveling?) Repeating the marketing slogans of four decades, they claimed that Zinn’s book helps students “understand the perspectives of workers, women, Black, Indigenous, and people of color.” They accused me of offering “no evidence” for my claim that “Zinn’s writing imposes the false idea that the United States is characterized by ‘systemic racism, wealth inequality, and police brutality.’” I had “fretted” that “’People reading [Zinn’s book] cry and get angry, sometimes taking to the streets.’” However, they pleaded “guilty. Teaching ‘people’s history’ can elicit great emotion about oppression and injustice and may inspire people to move to action.”
Michael Leroy Oberg, who teaches history and Native American Studies at SUNY Geneseo, revealed that he knew that I was from nearby Rochester and dismissed me as a “think-tank denizen” among the mostly white men. The American Historical Association, which publishes the guidelines Zinn had violated, attacked the conference as a “campaign stunt” promoting an old “mythical view of the United States.”
Robert Cohen, a professor of history, social studies, and education at New York University, who had edited Zinn’s diaries, weighed in at History News Network. President Trump “without evidence” accused teachers of promoting a “‘twisted web of lies . . .’” that inspired “’left-wing mobs,’” Cohen charged and claimed that Black Lives Matter protests were “mostly nonviolent.” In contrast to most history instruction, which was “too conservative,” leaving students “bored,” Zinn’s “exciting” book “engages students in authentic historical thought.” Cohen promised that his forthcoming book, being published by the University of Georgia Press, would “show how [Zinn’s] book can be used in classrooms today.”
Ignoring my presentation and the book it was based on, Cohen said that it was “absurd” to think that President Trump had read Zinn’s 688-page book. In a chapter on Zinn’s biography, I revealed that Zinn was a one-time member of the CPUSA but continued as an agitator. I had found some of that information in Cohen’s Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary.
The day after his article appeared, I sent Cohen an email, stating,
You should know that I was a panelist at the White House conference and that in my allotted five minutes before the President spoke, I spoke about how Zinn’s book is based on “falsified evidence, misquotations with critical words left out, and plagiarized disreputable sources.”
These are all documented with over 900 end notes in my book. . . . I have researched Zinn’s papers, as well as documents at the Library of Congress, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Emory University, and Syracuse University. I encourage you to read the book. . . .
In my book, I . . . explain the motivations behind Zinn’s falsification of history. . . .
So, let’s have an honest discussion–not about political views, but about honest history.
Cohen never replied.
One of the especially nasty retorts came from adjunct professor L.D. Burnett, who in Slate magazine attacked all the panelists and accused me of carrying “the old culture wars torch against ‘the left’ on college campuses by railing against the popular (not scholarly!) A People’s History of the United States. . . .” I had joined “such conservative thinkers as … Michael Kazin.” The sarcastic reference to Kazin, the avowed social democrat Georgetown University historian, added to what was intended to be a hilarious opening describing “doing shots of whiskey” and “binge-eating chocolate” while watching the spectacle on television. “Like most American historians,” she sniffed,” Kazin doesn’t regard Zinn’s book as an adequate or particularly reliable account of America’s past—which is why most American historians don’t assign this work to their students, and why we find it so singularly bizarre to see the book used as a cudgel against our field.”
That is not the opinion of Stanford history education professor Sam Wineburg. In 2012, in American Educator, he stated that Zinn’s book, once considered radical, had gone “mainstream.” It appeared on university reading lists in “economics, political science, anthropology, cultural studies, women’s studies, ethnic studies, Chicano studies, and African American studies, in addition to history.” It was “a perennial favorite in courses for future teachers, and in some . . . the only history book on the syllabus.”
Michael Kazin (referenced by Burnett), in 2010, noting sales of “close to 2 million copies,” called A People’s History “the most popular work of American history that a leftist has ever written,” exceeding all others as “a powerful and benign influence.” It had been assigned in “thousands of college and secondary-school courses.” I, too, had described, through numerous anecdotes, how popular Zinn’s book was in schools.
Wineburg also called Zinn’s book “educationally dangerous,” likely to extinguish “students’ ability to think,” even leading to “intellectual fascism.” The danger was especially great because “for many students, A People’s History will be the first full-length history book they read, and for some, it will be the only one.”
In 2004, Michael Kazin described A People’s History as “polemic disguised as history,” a “Manichean fable,” based on a premise “better suited to a conspiracy-monger’s Web site than to a work of scholarship.” Zinn failed “to explain the weight and meaning of worldviews that are not his own and that, as an engaged citizen, he does not favor.”
But Kazin and Wineburg in 2013 defended Zinn when it was revealed that in 2010 then-Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels asked state school officials to look into the use of Zinn’s materials in public schools, and in colleges of education and continuing education courses. “How do we get rid of it?” he asked, calling A People’s History “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation.” His emails were uncovered in 2013 by a reporter during another investigation, by which time Daniels was president of Purdue University.
A firestorm arose among the professoriate—including those who previously had had harsh words for Zinn and whom Daniels had quoted in his criticisms. Wineburg and Kazin joined ninety Purdue professors in publicly condemning Daniels. Wineburg accused Daniels of “censor[ing] free speech,” and Kazin charged Daniels with ignorance about “how history is now written and has always been written.”
In 2018, Purdue University Northwest philosophy professor David Detmer in his tendentious Zinnophobia: The Battle over History in Education, Politics, and Scholarship (Zero Books, Hampshire, UK), which utilized dictionary definitions, and textbooks, books, articles, and blogposts of dubious provenance, attacked me for a blogpost and a conference report on Zinn. He went after two dozen others ranging from Sean Wilentz and Arthur Schlesinger to Robert Paquette and Oscar Handlin.
Handlin, an award-winning Harvard University historian and trailblazer in ethnic and immigrant history, reviewed Zinn’s book in American Scholar in 1980. But Detmer took Zinn’s own distorted presentation of Pike’s claims about the Viet Cong as the kind of reputable “evidence” that Handlin failed to provide. Detmer praised Zinn for “giv[ing] us not only Columbus, the Spanish murderer and enslaver of Indians, but also of Bartolomé de las Casas, the Spanish chronicler and enslaver of Indians of such cruel and immoral conduct.” Of course, Columbus was not Spanish, but from Genoa, in present-day Italy. That is a starter for the Zinn version that Detmer took as accurate history about Columbus. Misreading my report, Detmer accused me of failing to provide historical evidence. He ignored my book when it came out.
Detmer’s book, true to the name of the publisher, seems to have had “zero” impact. But a September 22, 2021, Nation article by conference critic Robert Cohen and Sonia Murrow promoted their forthcoming book, Rethinking America’s Past: Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in the Classroom and Beyond. The article, titled, ironically, “Debate and Controversy Make History Education Better,” attacked “book-banners,” who “claim that exposing students to critical history will teach them to hate America,” promote “divisive[ness],” and disrupt “the educational process.” They pointed to “a mountain of evidence in Zinn’s papers, housed at New York University’s Tamiment Library [showing] that both students and teachers found that exposure to critical history enhances the historical teaching and learning process.” Yes, I saw those papers too. They indicate that students and ill-educated graduates of education colleges become emotionally embroiled when reading Zinn’s “exciting” history—as is agit-prop’s purpose.
Rethinking America’s Past (promoted by the Zinn Education Project to educators) revisits the Constitution Day conference. In the Introduction, Cohen and Murrow claim that “the emphasis of A People’s History on inclusive democratic politics, people’s movements, and progressive change from below is the polar opposite of Trumpian authoritarianism”—the first of at least eight references to “Trump,” including the Acknowledgments, where Cohen thanks family and friends for keeping him “productive and reasonably sane through the insane time of pandemic and Trumpism.”
Continuing in the unprofessional vein, Cohen and Murrow call my book a “polemic” and an example of “anti-Zinn fervor” that has carried over from efforts by Accuracy in Academia in the 1980s. My charge that “A People’s History was ‘designed to destroy Americans’ patriotism and turn them into radical leftists’” and that Zinn “’falsified American history to promote Communist revolution’” is “mean-spirited.” They call David Horowitz’s blurb one of many “ideological attacks” that “reflect intolerance of dissent and promote the chauvinistic notion that a historical narrative highlighting the flaws in American politics and society is inherently un-American” (thus admitting Zinn’s book lacks balance).
Cohen and Murrow quote at length Zinn’s own “rebuttal” to Accuracy in Academia’s charge: that AIA had “confused criticism of government with being anti-American.” They quote Zinn’s oft-repeated claim that his aim was “to present history and heroes who are ignored in traditional textbooks” (really famous radicals or anonymous mouthpieces spouting Marxist slogans).
While writing, “There is no evidence that A People’s History ‘turned a generation against America,’ as Grabar claims in her book’s subtitle,” Cohen and Murrow ignore how Zinn himself bragged about the transformation of his students, especially young men who were inspired to dodge the draft. Zinn “delighted in” the anti-Columbus protests that his book had inspired, according to one biography.
In a lengthy endnote taking issue with my “charge that Zinn sought to ‘promote Communist revolution,’” citing Zinn’s 1969 essay, “Marxism and the New Left” (which I also cite), they claim that “Zinn argued against the notion that ‘the traditional Marxian ideal’ of the overthrow of capitalism by an (sic) ‘an organized class conscious proletariat’ was tenable in modern America.” True. Zinn, like Stalin, saw that in the United States workers liked capitalism. A Popular Front, for infiltration and propaganda, was therefore instituted. Zinn’s view that “’the overwhelming power of the state will permit only tactics that fall short of violent revolution’” describes a realist who used his classrooms at Spelman College and Boston University to groom protesters for “civil rights” (wealth redistribution) and “peace” (a Communist victory in Viet Nam).
Zinn had scrubbed his papers, many having to do with his numerous extramarital affairs, but left the hundreds of fan letters from students and teachers. Cohen and Murrow make a pedagogical case for using Zinn’s book in high schools by quoting extensively from the correspondence from teacher Bill Patterson and twenty-two of his students between the mid-1980s and late 1990s. These letters, they claim, provide “an evidence-based history of the impact of A People’s History in high school classrooms with a mind toward teaching students to think historically.” Patterson said he taught Zinn’s book along with the assigned textbook, “’for the sake of exposure to a variety of interpretations’” and “’to nurture independent thought.’” It “’provoked spirited (sometimes rowdy) discussions in class.’”
Zinn’s history does promote divisiveness. Teenagers lacking historical knowledge and maturity, either get swept up by Zinn’s rhetoric about such things as how historian Samuel Eliot Morison had spun “a grand romance” and “buried the facts about Columbus’s genocide,” or get angry about being taught anti-American propaganda.
Cohen and Murrow also go after Oscar Handlin, calling his review “belligerent,” but list not one of Zinn’s errors of historical fact that Handlin corrects, including about the 1954 Geneva assembly on Vietnam. Cohen and Murrow (like Detmer) repeat Zinn’s accusation that Handlin was “a Nixon enthusiast and Vietnam War hawk.” They sarcastically note Handlin’s opening sentence, writing, “’This is a book about Arawaks,’ as if it was absurd for an American history to center on Indigenous people.” They absurdly accuse Handlin of being unable to “entertain seriously the idea that such people in the Americas or Africa merited historical study in ways that foregrounded their views of Europeans who conquered and enslaved them”!
Other reviewers, who charged Zinn with reducing American history to “’simply the Marxist class struggle played out for 200 years,’” and, similarly, “’an attempt to indict capitalism and the notion of private property as the fundamental evils of American life,’” are accused of “red-baiting” and failing to look at what is laughably called Zinn’s “evidence.”
While conservatives seethe with anger “over what they see as his hatchet job on American capitalism,” Zinn provided “elaborate evidence and eloquence” to “[indict] the inequality and the presence of poverty amid plenty that has always marked the American capitalist system. . . .,” Cohen and Murrow insist. However, Zinn’s only “evidence” is presented in an endnote: “When attacked by a right-wing organization for his anticapitalism in A People’s History, Zinn replied [in 1986], ‘American capitalism has been a failure. Having so many homeless people and poor is a failure. . . .’”—as if this could compare to the over 100 million executed and starved to death by Communist regimes in the twentieth century.
As to the plagiarism charge, they write in an endnote that Zinn did not use footnotes because he wanted to make the book “more accessible to general readers. Nonetheless, he would credit by name many historians whose scholarship he drew on, and he included them in the book’s bibliography.” They do not mention that Zinn composed his first five pages by slightly altering Koning’s words and then mentioned his name only once, on page 17—and of similar borrowings from Nash, as well as the presentation of Nash’s research as his own.
As I chronicle in my book, when caught by Countryman, of borrowing his “ideas” and “wording” without listing his essay in the bibliography, Zinn grudgingly admitted that he had “roughly” paraphrased Countryman’s essay. He promised to give him credit in a future edition, which he did by listing Countryman’s essay in the bibliography and inserting a parenthetical note directing the reader to Countryman’s essay. But Zinn never let on how much he relied on Countryman’s work.
Cohen and Murrow, however, present Zinn’s plagiarism of Countryman’s essay as a one-off slip: “In the first edition . . . Zinn neglected to cite historian Edward Countryman for his work on land rioters in early America. After Countryman complained to Zinn [he actually said he did not want to be “’un-comradely’”] that his ideas and wording had been used without crediting him, Zinn apologized [no, Zinn never said “sorry”] and pledged to credit Countryman in future editions, which he did in both the text and the bibliography” [inadequately]. Outrageously, they write, “Despite this slip, there is no pattern of plagiarism in A People’s History.”
As of August 13, 2023, according to World Cat, 792 libraries carry Rethinking America’s Past. My book is carried in 272 libraries. Rethinking America’s Past received the Critics’ Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association and professors can request free desk copies. In a logically backwards manner the press calls Rethinking America’s Past “the first work to use archival and classroom evidence to assess the impact that Zinn’s classic work of American history has had on historical teaching and learning and on American culture. This evidence refutes Trump’s charges.” Their claim that Rethinking America’s Past “traces the origins and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of A People’s History in light of more recent historical scholarship” is false; Cohen and Murrow evade the book’s historical weaknesses by attacking the critics, myself included.
More recently, another book touting Zinn has been published by another university press (University of Chicago), Popularizing the Past: Historians, Publishers, and Readers in Postwar America by Nick Witham. The chapter on Zinn, appeared as “Howard Zinn and the Politics of Popular History” in the July 17, 2023, Chronicle of Higher Education, thus stamping it with presumed scholarly legitimacy.
Witham too elides the question of factual accuracy and ignores my book. He mentions Handlin’s criticism of Zinn’s book for displaying “only casual regard to factual accuracy” but ignores Handlin’s expositions. The question of truthfulness is not even an issue for Witham. A People’s History is presented as one work in a culture war of best-selling popular histories dominated by the likes of “Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Bryson.”
Popular history is not necessarily in conflict with historical accuracy as the late David McCullough illustrated (in spite of the charge that he “only focused on ‘men and power,’”). But Zinn’s book is used as a textbook, recommended by professors, widely adapted into lessons and spin-off books, and is now being promoted to educators in two books published by university presses.
Just as my book was released in 2019, the fraudulent 1619 Project, a special issue of the New York Times Magazine containing essays and creative writing marking the four-hundredth anniversary (presumably) of the introduction of slavery in Virginia, came out and gave me the subject for my second book, Debunking The 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America. Its historiography follows Zinn’s. The socialist historian Eric Foner, a Zinn admirer, was revealed in the hardcover edition (published in November 2021) to be a “a key source of information, insight, guidance, and support.” Several of the contributors and peer reviewers were Foner’s former students. In 1980, Foner had given A People’s History a mixed review, claiming that Zinn’s book presented a “circumscribed” portrayal of “anonymous Americans” and a “deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience,” but praised its “vivid descriptions of events that are usually ignored.” Foner’s own textbook Give Me Liberty! (published by Norton) used at colleges like Bakersfield and Mohawk Valley Community College, follows Zinn’s interpretive trajectory. The Communist threat, for example, even spying by Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, is presented as merely a “Red Scare.”
The 1619 Project’s creator, New York Times education and race reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, has responded to criticism by attacking the critics and alternating between defending her project on Twitter as a “reframing of history,” which “explicitly denies objectivity,” and one that presents “historical facts,” such as that “race is embedded in the law and our nation’s institutions.” As I reveal in the paperback version of my book, Hannah-Jones knowingly presents historical falsehoods.
But the 1619 Project is taught in thousands of schools, thanks to premade lessons sent out for fall semester 2019 and more lessons and teacher workshops from the Pulitzer Center. The Zinn Education Project has enlisted teachers, students, and the public to fight state laws that prohibit its use.
The 1619 Project contributors, even the history Ph.D.’s, are as propagandistic as Hannah-Jones. Princeton University historian Kevin M. Kruse, who contributed an essay titled “Traffic” that argued that traffic congestion in Atlanta was related to slavery, is a serial plagiarist, beginning with his dissertation at Cornell University, as Phil Magness has documented.
In response to Magness’s revelations, Cornell argued that Kruse had corrected the errors of his dissertation in the book White Flight (Magness presents at least one “borrowed” passage that remained). Cornell refrained from punishing Kruse because the “citation errors were made without intent.” But according to Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity, plagiarism is considered to be a “serious violation”—“whether intentional or not” (as it was at the community college where I taught).
Similarly, Princeton’s faculty ad hoc committee found that Kruse’s errors were “honest” and a result of “careless cutting and pasting”! The Dean of Faculty accepted on faith that Kruse would henceforth “reflect the best practices in historical research,” and the case was closed. Magness concluded, “Sadly, Princeton and Cornell Universities have chosen to conveniently overlook clear evidence of Kruse’s academic misconduct on account of his political beliefs and his Twitter celebrity status.”
In addition to tweeting and providing commentary on MSNBC, Kruse pushes his politics in a collection coedited with Princeton colleague Julian Zelizer, Myth America: Historians Take on The Biggest Legends and Lies about Our Past (2023). They allege, “Unlike past eras in which myths and misunderstandings have clouded our national debate, the current crisis stands apart both for the degree of disinformation and for the deliberateness with which it has been spread.” A “good deal of the blame,” they charge, should be “attributed to the political campaigns and presidency of Donald Trump.”
The contributors of essays on twenty topics, including “Founding Myths,” “American Socialism,” “Confederate Monuments,” “Police Violence,” “Voter Fraud,” and “Insurrection,” are Ph.D.’s, with all but two associated with such prestigious universities as Emory, Northwestern, Georgetown, Princeton, and Harvard. Trump’s name is mentioned 66 times, such as in the reference to “America First” as an “enduring ethno-nationalist dog whistle” favored by the “Trumpist” America First Caucus. Glenda Gilmore and Michael Kazin reprise their lifelong scholarship: Gilmore, in “The Good Protest,” continues her revisionism of the Communist Party as the original civil rights activists, with the tradition of “good protests” continuing in summer 2020; Kazin defends American socialism as a reform movement promoted by Democrats—not “a revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system,” as “the Right” alleges.
Kruse is not the only historian to enjoy a sparkling career in spite of his repeated plagiarism.
Doris Kearns Goodwin who laid low for some years, taking a leave from PBS NewsHour and resigning her post at the Pulitzer Prize review board, has been rehabilitated. In 2018, she was on tour for her book on presidential leadership, which presents “good” presidents, such as Franklin Roosevelt, as contrast to Donald Trump. She was executive producer of the three-part History Channel miniseries, FDR. In a recent interview on MSNBC, Goodwin called for “organizing the country at all levels so that [Trump] cannot win [the 2024] election.”
When Conservatives Write Histories
As the catalogue for the University of Georgia Press illustrates, university presses and textbook publishers are usually hostile to non-leftist authors.
So, in 2019, Encounter Books published Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred McClay, then G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. Kazin, who went after Mitch Daniels (J.D.) for being an uncredentialed critic who knew nothing about “how history” is “written,” in his essay “Can Conservatives Write Good U.S. History?” called McClay “a rare conservative historian whose prior work is respected across the political trenches.”
Kazin admitted that in the “liberal and left-wing” dominated field, leftist scholars write “nearly all the respected monographs.” For him, this is justified because conservatives “want to persuade readers that the nation’s past supports their convictions about the present.”
McClay, as an example, “seeks to impart an uplifting message while still telling the story straight,” Kazin charges. The subtitle, “An Invitation to the Great American Story,” “appears pitched to acolytes of Trump.” McClay merely “nods to the dark side” and claims that lessons have been learned, part of the “hope” that America represents. (Were slavery, segregation, and child labor not ended, one asks.)
What galls Kazin (veteran of SDS and Weatherman) is the fact that McClay fails to give credit to abolitionists, feminists, LGBTQ activists, environmentalists, the Knights of Labor, the [Communist-dominated] CIO, and to W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, and A. Philip Randolph. Plus, in the “glossy interview packaged with the book” McClay praised President Calvin Coolidge and condemned the New Deal, thus revealing his “true ideological colors.” In contrast, Kazin offers Eric Hobsbawm, a Marxist.
Kazin is guilty of doing what he had criticized Zinn for doing in 2004: failing “to explain the weight and meaning of worldviews that are not his own.”
Historians Policing Themselves?
In spite of the posturing, Kazin and the cabal of “liberal and left-wing” historians have proven themselves to be corrupt partisans willing to abandon fundamental standards in order to shoulder aside those who do not share their worldviews.
The idea that the profession, like the academy, will reform itself, therefore, is delusional. The professoriate circled the wagons around Ward Churchill. The American Association of University Professors, in a 2009 National Council statement, asserted that “the disputes over [Churchill’s] publications should have been allowed to work themselves out in traditional scholarly venues.” In spite of the findings of academic misconduct, they stated, “Churchill should be reinstated to his faculty position.” In the 1960s, AAUP had defended Zinn after his firing from Spelman College.
But thanks to outside influences, like public outcry, the Colorado Board of Regents, and the Colorado State Supreme Court, Ward Churchill has been banished from Colorado classrooms.
The same should be done with Howard Zinn’s fraudulent history. Sadly, though, it now enjoys the imprimatur of a university press of the flagship university of the University System of Georgia. If the Georgia Board of Regents needs evidence of Zinn’s research misconduct, I will be glad to send them my book.