NPR Smears Howard Zinn
[Welcome, C&L readers! And please consider returning tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 4, 1:00PM EST, for a live blog with Dr. Margaret Flowers of PNHP, member of the Baucus 8, who's been practicing civil disobedience for single payer. -- lambert]
[UPDATE Since Dr. Flowers will be taping a show with Bill Moyers at the previously scheduled time, we're rescheduling, hopefully to this weekend. --lambert]
When I heard that historian and activist Howard Zinn died on Wednesday, I wondered how (or even if) NPR would cover his death. They have quite a track record of glorifying some of the vilest characters of the right (e.g. torture apologist and dictator loving Jeanne Kirkpatrick, economist Milton Friedman, and Jerry Falwell) when their lives come to an end, so I wondered how an avowedly leftist person such as Zinn would fare.
When I searched the NPR site the next morning, the only piece was there at the time was from the AP feed that NPR now features on its website. Though the AP article featured Arthur Schlesinger's snide remark - "I don't take him very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian" - it did give a fair bit of substance regarding Zinn's WWII service, his academic background, his profound influence, and his consistent bravery in taking on various injustices as an activist. But...
Then came the NPR "remembrance" on ATC, cooked up by NPR history distorter, Allison Keyes. Keyes must have some seriously limited research abilities because for comments about Zinn, she could only come up with Noam Chomsky (makes sense), Julian Bond (okay), and David Horowitz...seriously, Keyes turns to the extremist, right-wing Horowitz, sleazy polemicist "with no...actual occupation" and "no academic credentials" so he can weigh in on the scholarship and character of Howard Zinn. The result ain't pretty. Keyes, dignifying Horowitz with the title of a "conservative pundit and author," tells us that he "calls A People's History of the United States a travesty." She also includes sound bites of Horowitz saying,
"There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," and "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."
I'm not of the belief that nothing contrary should be said about the recently deceased. It would be great if NPR's coverage of important figures who die featured honest assessments of their deeds - think Ford, Reagan, Oral Roberts, William F. Buckley, etc. If a person of renown dies, why not mention their accomplishments and their failings. If Howard Zinn were a historian who was inaccurate and dishonest or plagiarized that would be important. Of course, since there is nothing erroneous or false in the histories that Zinn wrote, NPR has to use character assassination to smear his reputation - and that is frankly inexcusable.