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The Howard Zinn Perspective On History

This article is more than 10 years old.
Howard Zinn takes part in a panel discussion in January 2008 at Emerson College in Boston. (AP)
Howard Zinn takes part in a panel discussion in January 2008 at Emerson College in Boston. (AP)

Howard Zinn died Wednesday at 87.

In all of his many roles — World War II bombardier, liberal activist, historian, professor, playwright — Zinn possessed an inimitable perspective and voice on past and present affairs. He appeared on WBUR's airwaves several times over the years to share that perspective on a range of topics.

"Are freedom and democracy worthy things to fight for? Oh, yes. But I don't believe that when you bomb a country like Afghanistan with a vague notion that you might be doing something about terrorism, that you might be rooting out terrorists and in the process you end up killing a lot of innocent people, I don't believe you're advancing the cause of freedom and democracy, at all. In fact, I think you are probably endangering freedom and democracy." — Zinn on On Point, June 17, 2002

"The question is whether the wars that we have fought have increased or decreased our security. And I'm arguing that the wars we have fought have not increased our security. In what way did the war in Vietnam, with all that tremendous toll of human life, increase the security of the United States? I would argue the opposite, that the security of the United States is at its lowest point... You can tell that by the alarms and the security measures and the warnings and by orange signals." — Zinn on On Point, Sept. 8, 2006

"It was one of those lost moments in history, which I have never heard described. And when I describe it myself I almost can't believe it. But we were coming back, it was the last days of the war, and we were dropping this food to people in Holland. And on one of these missions, as we left Amsterdam, we saw, out in the field, these huge letters made up of tulips which read, 'Thank You'. When I think of it now, I'm still overwhelmed." — Zinn on Here & Now, Aug. 5, 2008

"Capt. Daniel Shays, a veteran of the Revolution, gave his name to the rebellion, but it was a rebellion of thousands and thousands. They surrounded the courthouses, wouldn’t allow the farms and land to be auctioned off. We could learn from that history, because people are being foreclosed, they’re losing their homes. Instead of waiting for the president and Congress to act — who are very slow to act and who are not going to really represent the interests of these poor people or even middle class people who are evicted from homes — people should be organizing, doing what citizens have done, doing what democracy requires to prevent these evictions from taking place." — Zinn on Radio Boston, July 3, 2009

Links To Full Interviews:

This program aired on January 28, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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