Former Boston University professor and political activist Howard Zinn last night said Americans need to "withdraw our obedience from our government" in response to what he called government deception surrounding modern wars.
"The war on terrorism is a sham," Zinn said at Morse Auditorium. "Terrorism is an idea that exists all over. You can't make war on it. If terrorism is the killing of innocent people for some presumed important purpose, then making a war on people is terrorism. War is terrorism. The terrorism of our war in Iraq has killed far, far more people than were killed in the twin towers."
Zinn said a revolution is the only option Americans have to bring about change and charged his audience of more than 200 to form a "people's" movement toward a "different world."
The longtime professor also said government hype must be combated with a discussion of history.
"If you know some history that is outside the establishing view of history, you will not be fooled by the things you hear from the White House, or from members of Congress, or from leaders of political parties," he said in his lecture, organized by BU Students for a Democratic Society, Boston Youth and Student Anti-War Movement.
The study of the history of government deception in wartime needs a closer look, Zinn said.
"What's being told is that we are fighting in Iraq for democracy. We are occupying in order to bring democracy and freedom to the Iraqi people," he said. "If you look at the history of American occupations, look at the history of U.S. interventions in other parts of the world - where have we brought democracy? There's no evidence of America bringing democracy to the countries that we occupy."
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Zinn said the turnout was encouraging. Attendees said they reserved spots beforehand, and many filled in balcony seating.
"It was a lot of things people need to hear," said College of Arts and Sciences junior Haley Ott. "There's a stigma against activism, [so] for someone like him [to speak], it's useful to have people inside like that."
Zinn stressed the necessity of citizen involvement, a sentiment BU Anti-War Coalition member Alek Drobnjak said he strongly supports.
"He made a point on people getting involved, which was very important," the College of Engineering sophomore said. "We need more people to join our clubs and participate in our government."
Zinn will be speaking again this weekend with BU professor Elie Wiesel in a nonpartisan regional conference called "Race to 2008," a discussion meant to revive political involvement among campuses in the Northeast.
"If you want something done, it happens when people come together," said SDS President Farah Mohammadzadeh, a CAS junior. "It's a revolution. It's possible."
© 2007 The Daily Free Press