Interviews With Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn on Iraq: Advice for the Next U.S. President

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
What should the next U.S. President do to get the military out of Iraq?

HOWARD ZINN: I think the next president should begin, announce the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. I think this will be a very healthy thing for Iraq.

The American occupation has not helped a thing. It has not stopped civil war; it has provoked civil war. It has not given the Iraqi people security or democracy; it has given them the opposite. It has ruined their country. And, of course, it has ruined our country, too.

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Howard Zinn on the Limitations of American History Books

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
“A more realistic and more truthful history would take a look at American foreign policy over the last several hundred years, really. It will take a look at American foreign policy and see it for what it has been–expansionist, violent and militaristic. In other words, it would be a history that would be honest in the way that we expect individuals to be honest about themselves and their past and to rectify their mistakes.”

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Howard Zinn on the World Today

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
What is the state of the world today?

HOWARD ZINN: The world today, 2008, it’s trying to overcome American dominance in the world, trying to overcome the American military bullying that’s taking place here and there in the world, in Iraq and Afghanistan and military bases in a hundred countries.

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Zinn Speaks: An Interview on the State of the Empire

By Wajajat Ali • Published at Counterpunch • April 19, 2008
Zinn reflects on his historic and memorable time at Spelman College in the ‘60s, his thoughts on the Democratic Party, his philosophy of dissent as democracy, and his hope for America’s future.

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An Interview with Howard Zinn

Interview by Shelly R. Fredman • Published by ZCommunications • May 22, 2006
“For those who find a special inspiration in Judaism or Christianity or Buddhism or whatever, fine. If that inspiration leads them to work for justice, that is what matters.”

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“To Be Neutral, To Be Passive In A Situation Is To Collaborate With Whatever Is Going On”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you just came from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility? HOWARD ZINN: Well, actually, yesterday afternoon I spoke at the Bedford Hills, euphemistically called, Correctional Facility. They hardly correct anything, but… I spoke to prisoners there, women… Read More

‘An Amazing David and Goliath Story’

Interview by Catherine Murphy • Published at Cubanow.net • March 2005
CM: Why do you think the US Government, the Bush administration in particular, does not want US citizens to visit Cuba?

HZ: I wish I could probe the minds of the people who run the United States government.… One of them undoubtedly is that they know that Americans and people from other countries that haven’t come to Cuba are intrigued by the kind of things that Cuba has, which other countries don’t have; intrigued by Cuba’s progress in literacy, in medicine, in culture and so on.

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Critical Thinking

Interview by David Barsamian conducted on July 21, 2004, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This interview was published in the February 2005 issue of International Socialist Review and included in the book, Original Zinn: Conversations on History… Read More

“Bush Represents Everything That Martin Luther King Opposed”

HOWARD ZINN: It’s interesting that the inauguration should come a few days after the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, because here we have Bush being inaugurated as President after the — all of the hypocritical statements made… Read More

HREA Director Interviews Historian Howard Zinn

Interview by Felisa Tibbitts • Human Rights Education Association • January 5, 2005
Historically, how do you think schools have served as a catalyst for social change and furthering the human rights movement?

Zinn: I think it works both ways. Students who learn in school about what is going on in the world are motivated to do something about it, to act on what they have learned. When I say it goes both ways, when you have students become active in human rights and feel that human rights has touched them personally, then they are likely to come back into the classroom and have the curriculum reflect their own consciousness.

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Questions for Howard Zinn: The People’s Historian

Interview by Joshua Glenn • The Boston Globe • Nov. 14, 2004
IDEAS: Don’t presidential elections reflect the will of the people as much as protest movements do?

ZINN: More important, I think, than who sits in the White House is who sits outside it. Whenever social injustices have had to be rectified, they were rectified not at the initiative of the president or Congress or the Supreme Court but because of social movements.…Only after thousands of black Americans demonstrated and were beaten, jailed, and killed was segregation in the South done away with. Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize for it, it was not only Kissinger alone who ended the Vietnam War, but the antiwar movement.

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Candidates Not Addressing “Fundamental Issues of American Policy in the World”

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. If you could comment overall about this presidential contest right now. We are just weeks away from the election. HOWARD ZINN: Well, the contest, unfortunately, is not giving us… Read More

Rise Like Lions: The Role Of Artists In a Time Of War

Barsamian: You have called attention to the role of artists in a time of war. What attracts you to artists?

Zinn: Artists play a special role in social change. I first noticed this when I was a teenager and becoming politically aware for the first time. It was people in the arts who had the greatest emotional effect on me.

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‘Marx Is Not Dead’

Interview by M.H. Lagarde • Published at La Habana • May 8, 2004
“I’ll remind people what Marx’s criticism of capitalism was. I would demonstrate that these ideas have much to with the United States today. In other words, that Marxist criticism today is exact and current.”

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‘The Human Reality of War Changed My Life’

Interview by Pedro de la Hoz • Published at La Habana • May 7, 2004
“Those who call themselves objective lie because they pick events and cover up their taking of sides. I do not hide to say: this is my point of view, it is not the only one, face it and make your own conclusions.”

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American Amnesia Interviews Howard Zinn

Published at American Amnesia • February 8, 2004
aA:Do you see historical amnesia – that is, forgetting both recent and distant history – as an ailment of the younger generation, or as a continuation of the “way we’ve always been”?

hZ: It’s not an ailment of the younger generation but of that part of the older generation that controls the media and the educational system. I find that young people are hungry for information, but their sources are too often the major television channels, which are controlled by a tiny group of wealthy corporations, with ties and interests close to the government.

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Another McCarthy Era

Interview by Steven Rosenfeld • Published at TomPaine.com • Dec. 2, 2003
TP.c: Everybody knows civil liberties take a beating in wartime. But historically, what is the most effective way to balance or challenge the excessive use”or abuse”of state power when those in government use the language of war?

Zinn: The recourse of citizens when civil liberties are attacked is first to expose those attacks as violations of basic freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights; and second to speak and write even more boldly than ever in order to encourage other people to do the same, so that the number of people speaking their minds becomes too great for the government to handle.

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Duty of Expression

Interview by Sarah Burton • Published in Resonance Magazine • November 2003
Howard Zinn and Thom Yorke have never done lunch, waved to each other along a red carpet, or even met face to face. So we arranged the next best thing: a debate between these luminaries moderated via phone and email.… Each had plenty to say about art and politics, but not without also covering everything from Marx and Picasso to Donna Summer and Public Enemy.

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Howard Zinn – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Interview by Lawrence R. Velvel • Books of Our Time • November 11, 2003
This discussion ranges from Mr. Zinn’s optimism for the future and what true Patriotism is, to what Americans don’t want to hear.

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War is the Health of the State

Interview by Paul Glavin and Chuck Morse • Published in Perspectives on Anarchist Theory • Spring 2003
Howard Zinn has been a pivotal figure in the American Left for decades. As an activist and writer, he has influenced generations of leftists and helped encourage a strong commitment to direct democracy, anti-racism, and grassroots action.

We asked Zinn about the current changes in the political environment, his theoretical commitments, and some of the challenges faced by radical intellectuals

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