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Zinn, Bannon, and Bullshit

March 11, 2017

I just learned of Fareed Zakaria’s silly comparison of Steve Bannon and Howard Zinn’s views of history and politics. How ridiculous.

While Zinn is no saintly hero to be slavishly mimicked or followed (I believe he would agree with me on this), and while I admire the spirit behind the two refutations here, I think both letters miss some larger points.

First, Zinn wrote in the spirit of emancipation for all people. A deep sense of justice and equality animated his work. An open, inclusive society was clearly an end for him.

Second, while a certain strain of anarchism and conspiracy also appears in his most famous work, his excessive suspicion of existing power structures and government were subordinate, again, to his desire for justice, equality, and emancipation for all. Bannon and his ilk do not, in any way, share these universal desires.

Third, it is possible to write a dark story of U.S. history that is not dystopian. This goes again to my point about the deeper desires that drive one’s work. – TL

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