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Ron Radosh

Those of you who have already seen Dinesh D’Souza’s America, or are planning to see it on this July 4th weekend, might know that a theme running throughout the film is the distorted and far left “history” of the late Howard Zinn, whose A People’s History of the United States has become a vehicle by which the Left has reached hundreds of thousands of American students with its message that the story of America is that of oppression. While many critics of D’Souza’s film have disparaged him for taking on Zinn’s narrative, which they believe is true, his film is the perfect antidote to the Zinn anti-American narrative. I’m proud to have contributed my input in an interview that appears in the movie.

I have been a critic of Zinn for decades, and perhaps of all that I have written about him, this old column I wrote for PJ Media sums up my critique of his method of writing history. I agree with the honest left-wing historian Michael Kazin, who writes that Zinn was a propagandist,  not a historian, who measured “individuals according to his own rigid standard of how they should have thought and acted.”  Zinn never mentions those who came here and succeeded—immigrants who built businesses and trade unions, women who were both suffragists and in favor of temperance and opposed to abortion, African-Americans who supported the doctrine of improvement favored by Booker T. Washington, and not only the militant path espoused by W.E.B. DuBois. To Zinn, there is only one kind of rebel, and all complexity goes out the window.

Zinn never mentions conservatism, which is obviously a disagreeable thing he would rather forget, or Christianity, a force that motivated much of the reforms Zinn favors. On foreign policy, Zinn’s entire history is one of a catalog of American imperialism’s  onward march of oppression at home and power abroad. It is not surprising that Zinn treats WW II in the same way, since in Zinn’s eyes, as Michael Kazin writes, the war is brought down to its “meanest components:profits for military industries, racism toward the Japanese, and the senseless destruction of enemy cities.” Even during World  War II,  America to Zinn was as immoral as the nations it was fighting.

D’Souza’s arguments in his film, discredited by leftist reviewers in the most scathing terms possible, reveals their own ignorance of history. As in the past, they have responded by branding all those who disagree with them (including D’Souza) reactionary, far-Right zealots, know-nothings, and virtually any such similar charge they can come up with. This too is not new. Indeed, before Zinn’s TV special The People Speak was aired,  his admirers criticized in advance anyone who dared challenge Zinn with the same labels. At that time, Nation magazine writer Dave Zirin wrote in the Huffington Post that to criticize Zinn puts you in the ranks of “the lunatic Right,” and is similar to “Nazi book-burning.”

Now, on this July 4th, The Zinn Education Project and the Huffington Post have greeted their readers with their own Zinnian tribute to the meaning of this day, written by a former high school teacher, Bill Bigelow.

Starting with a brief screed against fireworks on the holiday, he quickly progresses to his main point: “There is something profoundly inappropriate about blowing off fireworks at a time when the United States is waging war with real fireworks around the world.” Bigelow goes on to give us the statistics about drone attacks. Whatever one thinks of these, he seems unconcerned or perhaps even unaware of the very real threat facing our nation from Islamic terrorists, viewing July 4th celebrations as nothing more than “part of a propaganda campaign that inures us…to current and future wars half a world away.”

As to the American Revolution, he argues that it was the regular common folk who protested the British actions, which to the Zinn school is all that counts. The importance of the intellectual work done by the Founding Fathers in writing the Declaration of Independence is played down, and said to be derivative. He quotes from an article on the Zinn group’s website titled “Re-examining the Revolution” by Ray Raphael, who writes : “’The body of the people’ made decisions and the people decided that the old regime must fall.” The struggling people, in other words, on their own, created America, not the would-be “Great Men,” as he calls them. And for good measure, he reminds us that these same people “burned Iroquois villages…to deny food to Indians.” He is referring here to the campaign waged by Major General John Sullivan in 1779.

In America, D’Souza makes the point when talking to Ward Churchill that it is incorrect to say that America from the start committed genocide against the Native Americans; genocide, he points out, is the purposeful policy of destroying an entire people because of who they are, as Hitler did to the Jews of Europe. To prove that it is indeed guilty of genocide, Bigelow quotes a letter from George Washington to Sullivan of May 31, 1779, in which Washington writes that his expedition “is to be directed against hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians with their associates and adherents. The immediate object is their total destruction and devastation and the capture of as many persons of every age and sex as possible.”

Top Rated Comments   
I never fails. Every time a holiday rolls around, a left leaning publication has to post an article designed to "re-educate" us about the holiday, which usually turns into a bullet point laden essay on how you should feel like crap for celebrating such a stupid thing.
The progressives HATE that people in this country are happy and proud to be here, and they won't stop until we are as miserable and anti-American as they are.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did anyone see Bill Ayers on the Kelly File'? He was spouting his propaganda to Megyn & Dinesh -- w/o being corrected by them. I'm still in shock that that lying terrorist called the Revolutionary War a 'bottoms up' war -- that is, a war started by people at the bottom of society. More of his lefty, class war fare 1% BS. I guess George Washington being one of the richest men in America at the time doesn't count. And if Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton -- The Founding Fathers -- weren't upper class, who was?
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
--D’Souza’s arguments in his film, discredited by leftist reviewers in the most scathing terms possible--

You probably mean "attacked" as I doubt the reviewers managed to discredit him.
11 weeks ago
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All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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I've been trying for weeks to read Zinn's book. It's just SOOO bad. I'm fairly well educated in history and have read plenty of original documents, not just interpretations. Zinn leaves out absolutely everything that might refute his agenda. If that leaves him with no support at all, he then turns to a leftist historian to provide some of the most dreadfully biased and argumentative quotes you ever read. He repeatedly makes assertions that the facts, given correctly, do not support at all. The end result is the illusion of truth wrapped in drama and indignation, a very dangerous thing to launch upon impressionable children and teenagers.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ron Radosh:
For that matter, I wouldn't trust anything Bostom says either.

Ron, I know it's off topic, but why not?
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
D'Souza is a phoney fifth columnist, making bank with his movies that cynically appeal to the "common man" while he lives the life of an elitist. Take your silly costumes and eastcoast elitism and go to jail where you belong Mr. D'Souza, we don't need you to tell us what America should be.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually we do. I found parts of the movie very informative. Certainly there was some stuff in there my college history classes somehow missed.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Climb back in the toilet, jeff bloom.
You are emitting a foul odor.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Saw the film today. Three things stood out; 1.) The utter vileness and evil of Alinsky. Watching clips of him and observing is sneering smugness, his cynical advocacy of mafia practices will churn the stomach and awaken one as to what we are facing en masse. 2.) The amazing clip of Bono, to see one of the elites actually get it. 3.) The realization that the take over of our institutions and the use of the power of the State to violate our laws, traditions and history is textbook Alinsky. I recommend the movie to all.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those same things resonated with me as well. I urge everyone to see this movie. I thought I had a pretty strong grasp of American history, but I still learned things I didn't know. The liberal invective hurled at this movie is completely off the mark. From outright lies charging poor production quality and amateurish film making to deliberate distortion of the movie's message, the acolytes of the Left are doing everything to discourage attendance. Don't let them keep you away because you'll miss something well worth seeing.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, I heard them on NPR poo pooing the production and film quality. Bunch of wankers.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The left for a long time has wanted to destroy America by destroying the idea of America. With one of their own as President, and most of the liberal arts academy on their side, they may succeed.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
D'Souza jumped the shark some time back. A much better antidote to Zinn is Paul Johnson's "History of the American People"

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
This time of year I'm always glad Independence Day is in July. Imagine what it would be if it was during the school year and teachers got the opportunity to "teach" it.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was somewhat disappointed with the formatting of the Kelly File report on D'Sousa's America. To whit, D'sousa's acknowledgement to that foll Ayers that the Iraq war was a mistake. I would argue that it was not the war that was a mistake but the attempt to "rebuild" Iraq that was the costly mistake. I would argue the war was won in days, the effort to rebuild took almost a decade and was sabotaged by the Obama administration's pull-out. The impulse to "rebuild" I think was misguided and came from the Colin Powell's dictum loosely paraphrased as "We broke it, we fix it." I am of the opinion that our national position should be something like the following: "If you mess with us we will break it and fixing it will be your problem." Winning hearts and minds is a delusional, romantic pipe dream. As anyone with any sense knows, you cannot make make someone love you, especially if they are predisposed to resent you.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Destroying Iraq and leaving would simply be handing Iraq to Iran. I'm not sure that would have been a great idea.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rubble doesnt cause trouble.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
As it was fought, the Iraq War was a mistake.

I voted for Bush, I defended him against his Dem critics--and I'm sorry I did.

Because Bush and his Administration betrayed me and those who believed in him--and I'm not prepared to forgive him for it.

I'm not going to defend Rumsfeld's decision to invade Iraq with only one-third the force needed to keep the country pacified. I'm not going to defend Bush's decision to ignore the spreading violence until 2007, by which time IEDs had taken a very heavy toll of our troops.

Bush, you screwed it up.
You got a lot of our men and women killed unnecessarily, when a different policy would have reduced those numbers.

You want someone to defend you? Get somebody else.

I don't shill.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really Mike--

If you watched Kelly's match up of D'sousa and Ayers, you would have
been more outraged than you were after the interview with Ayers.
D'sousa was not prepared and Ayers spouted his usual drivel.

Kelly and Dinesh didn't do their homework. Had they done 30 minutes
of research, they could have blown Ayers out of the water. When
Ayers was going on about not being proud of America because of our
committing genocide, all they had to do was ask: " Bill, you and your
group advocated a revolution turning the country over to Cuba, Vietnam,
Russia and China and it might take killing 25 million Americans to pull it
off. Genocide for me, Bill, but not for thee?"

You and I could have done a better job than Kelly and D'sousa.
Then again there could have been ground rules agreed to in the
Green Room, that turns these interviews into softball games.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
She must have had them on twice because I remember D'sousa running Ayers into the ground.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Old hoss -
The non-debate debate was actually funny in one part: When Ayers said that al Maliki was going to be targeted by the US because he was 'brown'. D'sousa, who looks to be darker than al Maliki, was shocked into silence. It reminded me of when Juan Williams was attacked on TV by a blonde white professor at Occidental College who told Juan he didn't understand the problems of Blacks.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
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