Zinn Critique

524 Words3 Pages
Jamie Isaacson
Mr. Zontek
History 136
Participation #0

Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States states how Zinn’s biases influenced his relationship with American history. He references his youth as a dock worker, and his military service, to explain how he couldn’t remain objective regarding his choices of what parts of history to teach, thereby displaying bias. He states that because the US was founded and is ran by self-interested white men with a desire to create a strong central government that could wage war on the whims of an individual, American history is a study of classism and arrogance. Zinn also claims that American history is “a white man’s history” because there is no mention of Black people or Native Americans beyond
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Zinn uses the lens of social justice to view American history and put forward the argument that American history is rife with racism (civil rights issues and omission of non-white historical figures), violence (genocide of Native Americans and race riots), capitalistic greed leading to immiseration (upper class and its then ownership of 2/5th of America’s wealth), and power run amok leading to a type of imperialism (worldwide military interventions). S&A put on rose-colored glasses to argue that American history is fair (the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights), and that Americans are a people of character (Adams’ refusal to create conflict) and virtue (Founding Father’s insertion of slavery-ending measures into government), thereby painting Americans as a moralistic and exceptional people. Based upon what little bit of these two books that I’ve read, I’m going to view both of their contents with skepticism; Zinn seems to be pushing a liberalist agenda, while S&A are adhering to a conservative interpretation of American history. Whenever something so blatantly biased is encountered, it is best to view it with a healthy degree of doubt. The ironic thing is, I believe that both Zinn and S&A are right: American history is violent and exclusive, Americans are a truly amazing people that have achieved greatness, and NEVER trust the federal
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