Happy Independence Day, Howard Zinn Style versus Rick Monday Style!

originally posted 7/4/2007

The flag that Rick Monday saved in center field, Chavez Ravine

With a hat tip to the ever-stimulating Are We Lumberjacks? , we wish you a Happy Independence Day, as only Howard Zinn can:
Onthis July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all itssymbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, itsinsistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundaryso fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of ourtime, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

Um. No? Is that — is that the definition of nationalism? I don't... seem to remember it being quite defined in that way in my dictionary... Hmm. Mebbe I better look it up, again. Mr. Zinn is the intellectual history guy, after all.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as differentfrom others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding intoother lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

There's more. Make sure you have a q-tip with you to daub the blood leaking from your ear canals. If ever-a-wever there were a pundit wed to the straw man and the exception that proves the rule, it's our Mr. Zinn.

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have,perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraqcivilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable ofbrutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that ifthey die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for"liberty," for "democracy"?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense ofproportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes thejustification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This, from a widely-read "history teacher." By "widely-read," I mean he is required reading in many history classes.* I don't mean to imply that I think Mr. Zinn is himself widely-read. He hasn't even studied (or has strangely overlooked) the obvious World War 2 Eastern-front strategies and tactics, let alone the subtler ones.

Oh, yeah. And by "history" — well, in Mr. Zinn's case, I'm not sure what I mean by that.

Thekilling of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification forkilling tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shame on all those Islamists for killing tens of thousands in the name of the nation of America! — Er — Wait a minnit. I think I disagree with Mr. Zinn on their motivation... I'm not even sure they're nationalists.


And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to beblessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading twocountries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004that God speaks through him.

I can't wait to look that last bit up. I can't immediately recall any furor erupting over Mr. Bush's "Prophet" plank in the GOP platform.

The sad, sad part is that these days, unlike just a few years ago, someone like Mr. Zinn is taken seriously.

If this is center-line Progressive dogma, then get me a jet-pack so I can distance myself from the Progressive line as quickly as possible.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

In their shadowy film noir minds,  to assert allegiance to both the human race and a nation is impossible. Yet — the best of the United States of America is just that — the allegiance to a nation that itself asserts its allegiance to the human race. In Mr. Zinn's agit-prop mind, these World History Powers are morally equivalent. Ready?

This might hurt a bit.

Persia. Greece. Rome. The Ottoman Empire. The Mongols. The Vikings. Spain. Portugal. France. England. Japan.  Nazi Germany. Red China. The Soviet Union. The United States.

I guess it is easier to just slap a big ol' Imperialist label on everything. The other option is to compare and contrast, and who wants to do all that cogitatin'?


Happy 4th. Put on an extra burger for me, take a pic of the fireworks, and let the Mr. Zinns of the world cry themselves to sleep, dreaming of a happier world where all nations are the same and ashamed and ever so equally free.  And no culture is ever, ever better than any other. Nothing to live or die for, to paraphrase the equally (!) deluded Mr. Lennon. Above us, only sky.

* We note that Mr. Zinn lives and writes in the United States.

  • 13 Jun 2010, 8:39 PM Wry Mouth wrote:
    See above. Someone was searching through the net and hit this page , so I thought I'd bump it to the top. After reading it, I find I still like about 90% of it. Always happy when I read something I wrote awhile back and find it pretty good. ...
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  • 14 Jun 2010, 9:44 AM OregonGuy wrote:
    Zinn, Chomskey, my kid's high school English teacher, the Zero...all the same. Apologizing relentlessly. Millenials only need community. Too bad the dominant feature of that community is a serious lack of reasoning skillz.
    Reply to this
    1. 15 Jun 2010, 6:50 PM WryMouth wrote:
      Here's a thought. And, I don't think it is original to me (which makes me wonder why some are incapable of grokking it):

      The Ideal has its place in the Real World, even when it is yet and perhaps ever Unattainable.

      Maybe it's just me and my kid brother who tear-up in the eyes when we listen to "The Impossible Dream," but I think perhaps it is a more "conservative" position that The Ideal exists, and is worth shooting for.

      At least, these days, it seems more conservative. Back in the forties and fifties, I'd wager The Ideal was more of a liberal position.


      The Pragmatic Realists, who are always looking at ONLY the warts and imperfections of the country would be well-served by contemplating The Ideal USA, which doesn't -- yet -- exist, but toward which we want to be working every age.

      I believe the Ideal USA is more attainable here, under these rules, than Ideal Country X is in Country X.


      P.S. TRUE STORY: My son, who is under the tutelage of a Zinn Apostle lo these 3 years in high school, found a point of agreement between myself and the late bastard: he held Big Government in distrust, just like me!

      It goes to show you, I guess, that one can find something agreeable to talk about with just about anyone else on the planet.

      Reply to this

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