Friday, December 11, 2009
Hollywood and Howard Zinn's Marxist Education Project
Hollywood and Howard Zinn's Marxist Education Project
Friday, December 11, 2009
The two most important questions for society, according to the Greek philosopher Plato, are these: What will we teach our children? And who will teach them? Left-wing celebrities have teamed up with one of America's most radical historians to take control of the classroom in the name of "social justice." Parents, beware: This Hollywood-backed Marxist education project may be coming to a school near you.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, the History Channel will air "The People Speak" -- a documentary based on Marxist academic Howard Zinn's capitalism-bashing, America-dissing, grievance-mongering history textbook, "A People's History of the United States." The film was co-produced and bankrolled by Zinn's Boston neighbor and mentee Matt Damon. An all-star cast of Bush-bashing liberals, including Danny Glover, Josh Brolin, Bruce Springsteen, Marisa Tomei and Eddie Vedder, will appear. Zinn's work is a self-proclaimed "biased account" of American history that rails against white oppressors, the free market and the military.
Zinn's objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate "change" and nurture a political "counterforce" (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers' proclamation of education as the "motor-force of revolution"). Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. "There is no such thing as pure fact," Zinn asserts. Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to "empower" student collectivism by emphasizing "the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements." School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of "social struggle."
Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. "A people's history requires a people's pedagogy to match," Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two "social justice" activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.
Rethinking Schools recently boasted of killing a social studies textbook series in the Milwaukee school system because it "failed to teach social responsibility." A Rethinking Schools guide on the September 11 jihadi attacks instructs teachers to "nurture student empathy" for our enemies and dissuade students from identifying as Americans. "It's our job to reach beyond this chauvinism." And a Rethinking Schools guide to early childhood education written by Ann Pelo disparages "a too-heavy focus on academic skills" in favor of "social justice and ecological teaching" for preschoolers.
Teaching for Change's objective, in Obama-esque fashion, is to train students not to achieve actual proficiency in core academic subjects, but to inspire them to "become active global citizens." Today's non-achieving aspirants are tomorrow's Nobel Peace Prize winners, after all.
No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn's partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to "Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers" -- which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching:
"'Rethinking Mathematics' is divided into four parts. The first part is devoted to a broad view of mathematics that includes historical and cultural implications. Part Two includes nine classroom narratives in which teachers describe lessons they have used that infuse social justice issues into their mathematics curriculum. Included here … an AP calculus lesson on income distribution. The third part contains three detailed classroom experiences/lessons. These include a physical depiction of the inequitable distribution of the world's wealth, the results of a student investigation into how many U.S. presidents owned slaves, and a wonderful classroom game called 'Transnational Capital Auction' in which students take on the role of leaders of Third World countries bidding competitively for new factories from a multinational corporation. …
"Short lessons, provocative cartoons and snippets of statistics are scattered throughout 'Rethinking Mathematics.' A partial list of topics includes racial profiling, unemployment rate calculation, the war in Iraq, environmental racism, globalization, wealth distribution and poverty, wheelchair ramps, urban density, HIV/AIDS, deconstructing Barbie, junk food advertising to children and lotteries." (from a review by James V. Rauff of Millikin University)
Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.
Howard Zinn and his Hollywood Patsies
ZINN 101: A Radical’s History of the United States
by Mark Tapson
Twelve years ago in his breakout performance as an arrogant young genius in Good Will Hunting, struggling fresh-faced actor Matt Damon sneered at his Boston psychiatrist for “surrounding yourself with all the wrong f__kin’ books. You wanna read a real history book, read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. That book’ll f__kin’ knock you on your ass.”
The political left loves shout-outs, and this was a direct one to Zinn himself, whom Damon actually lived next-door to as a child, and whose book apparently knocked the actor on his own behind. “Ben (co-screenwriter Affleck) and I were laughing our asses off writing that,” he recalls. (What is it with Damon and the word “ass”?) ”We liked it that the smartest guy in Boston was reading Howard Zinn.”
Self-proclaimed radical historian Howard Zinn, 87, is arguably the most popular proponent of the “history from below” school of historiography, which explores past events from the perspective of everyday people as opposed to the so-called “Great Men” theory, which actor Josh Brolin, another Zinn devotee, calls mere “propaganda.” The Boston University professor wasn’t the first academic to pioneer this approach, but he is no doubt the first to dispense with tedious scholarly ballast like footnotes and citations, and to have pop culture powerhouses like Damon, Brolin and Pearl Jam running interference for his openly politicized agenda. His 1980 book A People’s History of the United States, one of the best-selling history books of all time thanks partly to Damon’s shout-out, is a litany of oppression and exploitation on the part of America’s white ruling class, a “raggedly conceived Marxist caricature” of American history, as David Horowitz calls it in Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.
Yet Zinn’s book is as ubiquitous in high school and university classrooms as sexual tension. His website proudly asserts that “no other radical historian has reached so many hearts and minds.” Well certainly, no other has darkened as many young hearts toward America and clouded as many young minds with utter disdain for facts and objectivity. Like his fellow academic cult figure Noam Chomsky and President Obama’s former associate and ghostwriter, unrepentant-terrorist-turned-radical-educator William Ayers, Zinn’s world view is powered by a relentless and hateful leftist fantasy: that the American government is and always has been racist, oppressive, warmongering, and ruthlessly exploitative, and that it must be subverted. And that subversion begins in classrooms all across America, which is why the left has worked so hard over the decades to imbed itself in America’s educational system.
Zinn encourages among students what journalists in the age of Obama have openly embraced: not even a pretense of objectivity or balance. “Objectivity is impossible,” he once claimed. Granted, historians have long accepted that no writer of history can be completely free of all cultural and personal bias. But whereas this self-awareness normally spurs historians to strive all the harder for objectivity and fidelity to facts, Zinn’s solution is to embrace bias and selectivity as positives, and use them as tools for the left’s Utopian pursuit of social justice: “If you have any kind of a social aim,” says Zinn, ”if you think history should serve society in some way; should serve the progress of the human race; should serve justice in some way, then it requires that you make your selection on the basis of what you think will advance causes of humanity.” (Emphasis added) In other words, it’s not enough for historians to piece together the clearest, most honest picture of the past to give us insight into our present and future; they are morally obligated to selectively shape the material in ways that they think will advance certain causes, even at the expense of truth. This is not historiography; this is, as Josh Brolin might say, propaganda.
Along with objectivity, Zinn jettisons some historical highlights that might actually give young Americans reason to feel proud of and more knowledgeable about their country. A Conservative History of the American Left ’s author and Big Hollywood contributor Daniel J. Flynn notes some of the significant omissions in the People’s History:
Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate all fail to merit a mention. Nowhere do we learn that Americans were first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon. Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers are entirely absent. Valley Forge rates a single fleeting reference, while D-Day’s Normandy invasion, Gettysburg, and other important military battles are skipped over. In their place, we get several pages on the My Lai massacre and colorful descriptions of U.S. bombs falling on hotels, air-raid shelters, and markets during the Gulf War of the early 1990s.
Harvard historian Oscar Handlin not only exposed the book’s flaws long ago and shredded Zinn’s “deranged fairy tale”; he also expressed a keen insight: “Brendan Behan once observed that whoever hated America hated mankind, and hatred of humanity is the dominant tone of Zinn’s book.”
Zinn’s experience flying bombing missions in Europe during World War II had a profound effect on him and shaped his perspective of America as an imperialist evil. He went on to become a civil rights and anti-war activist, writing books such as Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal and You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train. On his website Zinn states, “I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power.” This is the kind of nonsensical, anti-establishment rant one would expect from a seventh-grader, not from one of the most influential educators in the country. The KSM’s of the world should be freed from jail, and the Bush-Cheney-CIA axis of evil should be in jail? Yes, that would certainly set the world right. “What’s required,” he says, ”is a total turn¬around. We want a country that uses its resources, its wealth, and its power to help people, not to hurt them.” (Emphasis added) Is America perfect? Is our history without stain? Far from it. But only the pathologically anti-American left can deny that this country has used its resources, wealth, and power largely for good, more than any nation in human history.
This perverse worldview lands Zinn on the wrong side of every issue he addresses: he expressed solidarity with vile academic fraud Ward Churchill, who dismissed the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns”; he placed the blame for those attacks squarely on the shoulders of American foreign policy, completely ignoring the underlying religious motivation; he endorsed the 9/11 truther movement; he offered support for former professor Sami al-Arian, who was jailed for his key role in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as “a victim of a cruel system, in which the rights of anyone who dissents from government policy are in danger”; he denounced “the so-called ‘war on terror’” as “an act of terrorism” itself (”This is not the behavior of a democracy but of a totalitarian state”); and he espoused the moral equivalence of suicide bombing (“The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent”) as well as the moral equivalence of the terrorists themselves (“the U.S. was reacting to the horrors perpetrated by the terrorists against innocent people in New York by killing other innocent people in Afghanistan”).
Next week Matt Damon, still fresh-faced but now a $10 million-a-movie anti-capitalist, will use his stardom and boyish smile to promote Zinn’s work again. On Sunday The History Channel will serve as a delivery system for Zinn’s subversive anti-American agenda: a documentary co-produced by Damon entitled “The People Speak,” based on A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which Zinn co-edited with anti-war-on-terror socialist Anthony Arnove. Other Hollywood stars like Brolin, Marisa Tomei, Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortensen, Rosario Dawson, and Kerry Washington have enlisted to put a pleasing face on this stealth attack (and not only in front of the camera; behind the scenes, Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis is on the Voices Advisory Board) which will launch on multiple fronts, including a classroom study guide, a performance tour of college campuses around the country, and a soundtrack album. The song titles hint at the soundtrack’s (and the project’s) tone: “The Drums Of War,” “Only A Pawn In Their Game,” “American Terrorist,” “Dear Mr. President,” “Masters of War.” Take that, rapacious military-industrial complex!
Why does a mere History Channel presentation featuring attractive, well-meaning celebrities merit concern? What is at stake here? To return to David Horowitz: “The two Americas that matter in the War on Terror are not those of rich and poor… (They) are an America that embraces its heritage and purposes, and an America that has seceded from both.” The secessionists like Howard Zinn know full well the effectiveness of disseminating their corrosive ideas through education and Hollywood, which Liberal Fascism ’s Jonah Goldberg labels “the most powerful propaganda agency in human history.” These arenas are key to indoctrinating America’s youth and eroding the patriotism that Zinn claims “has caused so much death and suffering.” What is at stake is America’s ability to stand strong and united against the Islamic threat and the challenge of rising new superpowers. What is at stake is our heritage and purpose, as Horowitz would say. What is at stake is the hearts and minds of our nation’s youth.
In that context, Good Will Hunting’s “smartest guy in Boston” is starting to look like little more than a useful idiot.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:05 PM