Friday, January 29, 2010

A Life Well Lived; Remembering Howard Zinn, People’s Historian

Raymond Lotta has written a moving piece in Revolution Newspaper celebrating the life of Howard Zinn, above is the link to the whole thing, below is an excerpt...

"...For some five decades, Howard Zinn’s engaged scholarship and moral example influenced academics, activists, and new generations of the young.

"And it was to the young that he felt a special responsibility. As he said in an interview in this newspaper in 1998: “beneath the surface of `youthful ambition,’ `need to graduate,’ `need to make a career’—beneath that surface, I believe there is always among young people a hunger to do something worthwhile and important.” Even as his health weakened, he continued to speak at high schools and colleges. 

"I had the privilege of meeting with and sharing in discussions with Howard Zinn. I was struck by a deep knowledge matched by a capacious open-mindedness. I felt Howard’s warmth, his curiosity, and a generosity of spirit. I felt his abiding sense of principle..."

read the rest here:

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:12 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn Will Be Missed

Howard Zinn led a life of principle and resistance.  His death today by heart attack is a tremendous loss to the people around the world.  Few people so consistently used their platform and respect to shine a light on the crimes being committed in our names, to turn people on to the truths this system tries to hide, and to foster a climate and spirit of resistance and truth-telling.  He stood against the U.S.'s unjust wars for empire.  He excavated the buried genocidal history of this country.  He challenged generation after generation to read and think outside the margins of acceptable academic discourse.  I saw him speak not long ago at University of Chicago and got to watch the reaction of freshmen who'd never heard the kind of history -- radical and truthful history -- that Zinn brought to life... or the humor and friendly challenge to everyone in the audience to make their lives about something more meaningful than just getting a degree, a career, or a way for oneself.  Zinn lived a life for the people and for a better future and challenged everyone he met to do the same.

Here is a link to an interview that Raymond Lotta did for the Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution Newspaper) with Howard back in 1998:

On November 24, 1998, Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta talked with Howard Zinn about 100 years of U.S. empire and radical prospects for the future.

Raymond Lotta: Howard, it's very exiting to be speaking with you, and I want to thank you for taking part in this interview.

Howard Zinn: Well, I'm glad to do it.

RL: You've written books that have influenced so many students, activists, and intellectuals. So I thought we might start by finding out about how you became a historian and how you see your role as a historian.

HZ: I got into history not to be a historian, not to be a scholar, not to be an academic, not to write scholarly articles for scholarly journals, not to go to academic conferences to deliver papers to bored fellow historians.

I got into history because I was already an activist at the age of 18.

I was working in a shipyard. I was organizing young shipyard workers. And I was introduced to radical ideas.

I was reading Marx, I was reading Upton Sinclair, I was reading Jack London, I was reading The Grapes of Wrath. So I was a politically aware young man working in the shipyard. I was there for three years. Then I enlisted in the Air Force. I was a bombardier in the United States Air Force, and came out and worked at various jobs. All of these influences: I came from a working class upbringing--I have a chapter in my memoir called "Growing Up Class Conscious,'' and I guess, yes, I grew up class conscious, a phrase not too often used in the United class experience in the war [World War 2], my complicated reactions to the war, the so-called "best war,'' "the good war'' in a working class neighborhood with my wife, raising two kids, having a tough time...going to school under the GI Bill while working in a warehouse...being a member of a number of different unions from time to time, interested in the labor movement, reading the history of labor struggles.
So when I began to study history and began to think about being a teacher and writing history, I already understood that I was not going to be a neutral teacher. I was not going to simply be a scholar.

RL: You had definite ideas about the kind of historian you wanted to be.

HZ: I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of social struggle. I wanted to be a part of history and not just a recorder and teacher of history. So that kind of attitude towards history, history itself as a political act, has always informed my writing and my teaching. From the very first moment I stepped into a classroom, I knew that I was not going to be one of those teachers that at the end of the semester, at the end of the year, the students wanted to know where does this teacher stand. They were going to know where I stood from the very beginning! That's been my attitude all the way through, and still is.

RL: How do you see breaking down the boundaries between your work as an intellectual in the university and what is happening in the larger society?

HZ: I see it two-fold. One, bringing the world into the classroom, and bringing current issues into the classroom. Whatever course I was teaching--whether it was political theory or constitutional law--there was always going back-and-forth between what was in the textbook, what was in history, what was in the past, and what was happening in the world today at the time I was teaching. So the classroom itself was for me a meeting ground of the outside world and the world of the university.

At the same time, I thought that wasn't enough. I couldn't confine my life to the academy. I had to be involved in the world outside. Because if I wasn't involved in the world outside, I would be delivering a message to my students, and the message to my students would be [laughing]: it's great to talk about all these things in the classroom, it's a wonderful thing, but you don't have to do anything about it. I wanted my actions to convey to my students what was important in life.

So during my first teaching job, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where I taught for seven years in the years of the civil rights movement, I soon became involved in the movement. And I saw my role as a teacher to teach by my activity outside the classroom as well as by what I was saying in the classroom.

read the rest of this interview here:

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:24 PM | 0 comments


Gregory Koger is still facing charges simply because he peacefully filmed the statement that I peacefully gave to the "Ethical" Humanist Society of Chicago on the morning of my canceled talk.  (The back story, in brief, is that I had been scheduled for months to give a talk titled, "Morality Without Gods," at their Society, but then they canceled due to hysterical anti-communism, slander, and dishonesty on their part.)

Last week, Bill Ayers, Mark Falkoff and I were part of a panel organized by Gregory Koger's support committee.  What the three of us have in common is all of us have been slandered, threatened, and censored for our "controversial speech."  Above is a segment of the video from that evening calling for people to support Gregory Koger.

Please share it with others.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:18 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crazy Religious Forced-Motherhood People ALL OVER!

A friend just texted me this photo-- taken on 6th Avenue in Manhattan.  In case you can't read it all, its one of those trucks driven around with loudspeakers by Hasidic Jews that blaring out different religious doctrine.  This one insists that the commandment against murder in the Bible "includes the unborn."

Besides the fact that fetuses are not people and abortion is not murder, these crazies get it all wrong about their own stinking Bible.  The Bible calls for ALL KINDS OF MURDER!  From

"The act of murder is rampant in the Bible.  In much of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, there are laws that command that people be killed for absurd reasons such as working on the Sabbath, being gay, cursing your parents, or not being a virgin on your wedding night.  In addition to these crazy and immoral laws, there are plenty of examples of God's irrationality by his direct killing of many people for reasons that defy any rational explanation such as killing children who make fun of bald people, and the killing of a man who tried to keep the ark of God from falling during transport.  There are also countless examples of mass murders commanded by God, including the murder of women, infants, and children."

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 2:56 PM | 0 comments

Monday, January 25, 2010

Radio Program With Carl Dix and Rob Boston on HAITI

Last night I interviewed Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Rob Boston, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and author of "Pat Robertson, Most Dangerous Man in America" about the devastation in Haiti.

It is still stunning to me how many people who ought to know better still think that the United States can act as the "good guys" in this situation. Listen to Carl Dix -- he breaks down the reality of how the U.S. military has a whole history of plundering Haiti, but not only that, how the U.S. military is currently working actively to suppress the Haitian people and to keep much of the needed aid OUT of Haiti.

Then, Rob Boston gets into who exactly Pat Robertson is. This is important because while some people rejected Robertson's lunatic ravings about how the Haitian people brought this earthquake on themselves for making a pact with the devil years ago, the fact is most people dismiss Robertson like he's no big deal. Rob Boston gets into how Robertson is still attending inaugurals for governors as an "honored guest" and how, even more, the strategy he built up for a theocratic-fascistic take-over is still influencing millions of "true believers" as well as the political landscape more broadly.

To listen in a pop-up window, follow this link:

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:51 AM | 0 comments

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