Speaking to a jam-packed Cahn Auditorium Tuesday night, historian and political scientist Howard Zinn called America’s history “a history of marauding” and urged the abolition of war.
Zinn, who wrote the 1980 bestseller A People’s History of the United States, spoke for more than an hour. Gray-haired, slightly stooped and wearing a green V-neck sweater, the 82-year-old talked in conversational tone and often joked.
Some choice quotes from the night:
- “I see the United States as an occupied country. A small group of men have really taken over.”
- “We need a different kind of history, where the heroes will be the dissenters, the whistle-blowers and the troublemakers.”
- “It’s time that we’re honest with ourselves. It would be good if we [Americans] could have an organization – ‘Imperialists Anonymous.’”
- Regarding the proposed fence along the southern U.S. border: “The Statue of Liberty, if she were flexible enough, she would hang her head.”
- Regarding the war on terrorism: “It doesn’t take much thought to realize the contradiction in terms. War is terrorism.”
- “If we are going to be human beings in a larger sense, we have to decide that war cannot be tolerated, war cannot be accepted as a means of solving problems.”
- “Hitler was a great military power invading another country. Who does that sound like?”
- “As soon as you go to war, you poison your soul. As soon as you go to war, you commit atrocities.”
- “There have always been powerful economic motives driving this country’s policies.”
Zinn acknowledged that ending all wars seemed far-fetched – but so was ending all slavery in the early 1800s. He called for citizens to unite and take action at a grassroots level to change the country.
Many adults were in the audience; beforehand, a member of Veterans for Peace passed around a petition to impeach President Bush. The audience seemed to like Zinn’s straight-forward style and controversial remarks, laughing at his quips and giving him standing ovations when he stepped on the stage and when he left it.
Did you go to Zinn’s speech? If so, what did you think? If you didn’t go, what do you think of Zinn and his ideas in general? Leave a comment.