Howard Zinn's Historian As A Citizen

798 Words4 Pages
Historian as a Citizen written by noted political science Professor Howard Zinn , regarding historian 's views of human behavior. The passage reminds the reader to critique their perceptions of history and politics. Making the compelling argument that the position of the historian keeps evolving with the times and sociopolitical landscape. Ultimately , the proper role of the historian is to understand how history affects the present. Zinn starts off by saying " Traditionally , he is passive observer, one who looks for sequential patterns in the past as a guide to the future, or else describes the historical events as unique and disorderly- but without participating himself in attempts to change pattern or tidy the disorder" (Zinn 43). The "he" in the passage is in reference to historians as a whole. Zinn is saying that generally a historian must merely be an onlooker and facilitate. They must understand how the past is a basis for current events. Zinn goes onto say "For historians, there is an additional trap: The more we work on the data of the past the more weighted the past seems" (Zinn…show more content…
Additionally the readers are shown the "us vs them" mentality of human nature. No matter the situation we always see ourselves as the good guys, or the victim. An example of this that Zinn uses is the U.S 's views of the Soviet Union, the S.U. regime is regarded as tyrannical. But we must analyze what parts of our government are oppressive as well. By humanizing ourselves as the good ones we can justify truly horrifying acts. In this case Zinn uses The Vietnam War, an act of unnecessary violence that the U.S has committed. Evil isn 't exactly specific to one group of people, anyone and everyone has the potential to be cruel. There is a choice to be made of whether we will succumb to corrupt behavior or not. We are always quick to condemn other 's acts of evil, but defend the behavior of our government, people, or

More about Howard Zinn's Historian As A Citizen

Open Document