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Thank You, Howard Zinn

Matt Rothschild

 by The Progressive

Thank You, Howard Zinn, for being there during the civil rights
movement, for teaching at Spelman, for walking the picket lines, and
for inspiring such students as Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being there during the Vietnam War, for writing "The Logic of Withdrawal," and for going to Hanoi.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for always being there.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a man who supported the women's liberation movement, early on.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a straight who supported the gay and lesbian rights movement, early on.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a Jew who dared to criticize Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, early on.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for being a great man who didn't believe in the "Great Man Theory of History."

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for taking the time to write your landmark
work, "A People's History of the United States," and for educating two
generations now in the radical history of this country, a history, as
you stressed, of class conflict.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for grasping the importance of transforming
this book into "The People Speak," the History Channel special that ran
in December and that should be used by secondary, high school and
college classes for as long as U.S. history is taught.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for opposing war, all wars, including our
own "good wars," our own "holy wars," as you called them-and for
pointing out that a "just cause" does not lead to a "just war."

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for pointing out that soldiers don't die for
their country, but that they die for their political leaders who dupe
them or conscript them into wars. And that they die for the
corporations that profit from war.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for urging us to "renounce nationalism and
all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its
insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. We
need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one
nation."

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for stressing that change comes from below,
and that it comes at surprising times, even when things seem bleakest,
if we organize to make it happen.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for stressing the value of engaging in
action to make this world a better place, even if we don't get there.

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for this amazing, inspiring paragraph, which I've had on my wall for years now:

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is
based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty,
but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to
emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see
only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we
remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have
behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the
possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different
direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to
wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession
of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in
defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

Thank you, Howard Zinn, for recognizing the beauty and power of
culture, and for exalting the poet, the singer, the actor, the artist.

Thank you, Howard, for being kind enough to write your columns this
last decade for a relatively obscure magazine called The Progressive,
and for doing so with the utmost intelligence and grace.

Thank you, Howard, for calling me your editor.

Thank you, Howard, for your wry and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Thank you, Howard, for your kindness.

Thank you, Howard, for your friendship.

Thank you, Howard.

Thank you.


© 2021 The Progressive
Matt Rothschild

Matt Rothschild

Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Prior to joining the Democracy Campaign at the start of 2015, Matt worked at The Progressive Magazine for 32 years. For most of those, he was the editor and publisher of The Progressive.

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