There is little need to manufacture a case… against the scholarship of Howard Zinn. Simply turn a few pages in his mammoth collection of neo-marxist myths and his utter lack of historical discipline is apparent. With sneers, winks, and contrived expertise, Zinn proclaims his biased interpretation of America’s founding documents. He offers no evidence to support his contentious positions- simply stating that “bias” excuses this lack of basic academic rigor.
“All this language of popular control over governments, the right of rebellion and revolution, indignation at political tyranny, economic burdens, and military attacks, was language well suited to unite large numbers of colonists, and persuade even those who had grievances against one another to turn against England.” Zinn cannot acknowledge that ordinary colonial citizens had a grudge with England. The wicked colonial elites used “Common Sense” and the Declaration of Independence to manipulate the masses into fighting the British. The obvious deduction is that Zinn believed Colonial grievances were not legitimate. His source material throughout this section of his book is Charles Beard’s “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution”- the long discredited study of the economic origins of our nation’s founding. Beard was taken to task by the next generation of historians, but Zinn refuses to acknowledge the deficiencies of his source material.
The academic dishonesty is the toughest part… of Zinn’s work to swallow. Ignoring volumes of well researched, balanced studies to persistently argue his “biased” view of history is what earns Zinn his “radical” credentials. The very core of his radicalism was a disregard to academic standards and peer review. The reputation he built as an anti-establishment hero protects his work from proper scrutiny. Enlisting celebrities for a dramatic reading of the A People’s History will further deflect attention from the lack of substance in the words Matt Damon recites. Zinn is definitive proof that lousy work can be remembered if it has been done colorfully.