Howard Zinn's Revisionist 'A People's History' Comes to TV
Zinn's 1980 book influenced a generation of students with its negatively-framed distortions of American history which minimized successes like WWII. It exchanged traditional history for marginal topics such as Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Joan Baez and Angela Davis while omitting Washington's Farewell Address, the Wright Brothers and the Normandy Invasion.
The December 10 Variety stated production begins in Boston this January. Ironically, it will use wealthy celebrities like Matt Damon, Danny Glover and Josh Brolin to convey the book's Marxist theory (bold mine):
Miniseries will center on the actors and musicians as they read from the books or perform music related to their themes: the struggles of women, war, class and race. (...)
"This project is about Howard Zinn, his books and using that body of work to remind and inspire us all that this is a country built on dissidence," Moore said. "Howard's work deserves to be on film, and it is time that we paid tribute and captured the struggles of the people."
Zinn, whose books chronicle the struggles of Native Americans, women, workers and other Americans, said..."Our hope is that these words from the past will speak passionately and clearly to the needs of the present."
How about just getting the facts right? Writer Dan Flynn wrote that Zinn called George Washington the “richest man in America” and claimed “unemployment grew in the Reagan years.” Robert Morris is generally seen as that era's wealthiest man and Bureau of Labor statistics show the unemployment rate fell from 7.6 to 5.5 for Reagan, who created nearly 20 million jobs.
Communism was more favorably portrayed. Castro's Cuba “had no bloody record of suppression” and Maoist China was “the closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government, independent of outside control.”
Flynn also tackled Zinn's startling omissions (original paragraph reformatted):
Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate all fail to merit a mention. Nowhere do we learn that Americans were first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon. Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers are entirely absent.
...American success stories like those of Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, and Louis B. Mayer—to name but a few—are excluded.
Valley Forge rates a single fleeting reference, while D-Day’s Normandy invasion, Gettysburg, and other important military battles are left out. In their place, we get several pages on the My Lai massacre and colorful descriptions of U.S. bombs falling on hotels, air-raid shelters, and markets during the Gulf War of the early 1990s.
American history shouldn't be whitewashed, but Zinn went to the other extreme and favored embarrassing parts. Sounds perfect for Hollywood.
Lynn contributes to NewsBusters. Contact her with tips or even complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com.