[Marxism] left-progressive historians under attack

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Sat Feb 9 20:41:58 MST 2013


I sent these comments to H-Labor on the AFT's publication of the
attack on Zinn earlier today but not posted there yet.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark A. Lause" <MLause at zoomtown.com>
To: "H-Net Labor History Discussion List" <H-LABOR at H-NET.MSU.EDU>.
Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2013 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: The Assassination of a Dead Man: Howard Zinn PLEASE HELP

Sniping at Zinn's _People's History of the United States_ has been going on
since it first appeared.  In the late 1970s, I assigned it for a survey
course, and faced a noisy lobby by a clique of right-wing suburban white
kids who insisted that he had written nothing worth reading about race
because he had mistakenly located Fort Pillow in Kentucky rather than
Tennessee.

I'm not sure that the relative standing of Zinn and Wineberg in a Google
search tells us much definitive, but it does indicate some things.  If I
have the correct Sam Wineberg, he does not object to Zinn because his
training was not that of a professional historian since Wineberg himself is
in Education.  For some years he has simultaneously had his efforts funded
by the Teaching American History program of the Department of Education,
while raising questions whether such spending has really made a difference.
http://hnn.us/articles/76806.html
Go figure.

The real question seems to be why the AFT is showcasing the issue the way it
is.  For a public sector union facing repeated demands to tighten the belt
by the very politicians it helped to elect, the union seems to be responding
with the kind of institutional brand of solidarity that has made the
American labor movement what it is.  That is, it's identifying where it is
most willing for management to focus the attacks.  It's not hard to
understand this, if we have the historical sense that the system that has
rewarded those labor organizations for their pragmatic acceptance of the
divide-and-rule strategies.  That kind of understanding shouldn't be
restricted to those with scholarly training but as accessible to any who
seek it.

And they can get it in Howard Zinn.

Solidaritet,
Mark Lause




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