The NYT Magazine Slights Howard Zinn in Its Farewell to 2010

Howard Zinn • Photographer unknown
By Matthew Rothschild from The Progressive, December 27, 2010

I picked up my Sunday Times yesterday morning and saw that the magazine section was doing its annual obituary section, “The Lives They Lived.”

I expected to find Howard Zinn in there, one of the most towering leftwing intellectuals in America of the last 50 years.

But he was nowhere in sight.

The editors did manage to find room to salute Prescott Sheldon Bush Jr., brother of George the First.

They did manage to find room to salute Dodge Morgan, who went around the world in 150 days.

And they lavished six pages on George Steinbrenner!

But not a word on Howard Zinn.

To its credit, the magazine profiled the feminist theologian Mary Daly and the great poet Lucille Clifton.

But not Howard Zinn.

The omission was infuriating, as was the randomness of the selections.

Donald Lukens, an obscure rightwing Republican, was there.

But not Howard Zinn.

Ruth Kligman, Jackson Pollock’s lover, was there.

But not Howard Zinn.

Joan Hinton, who worked on the Manhattan Project and then became a Maoist, was there.

But not Howard Zinn.

In their puny introduction, the editors defended their choices by calling them “an idiosyncratic collage of stories about people who died over the last year. . . . We like to think of this issue less as an assortment of obituaries than as a collection of narratives that celebrate lives.”

But whose lives to celebrate? That’s the question. You can write a celebratory narrative about anybody.

The Times Magazine shouldn’t even bother with “The Lives They Lived,” which is a conceit, anyway, and a slam against all the anonymous great people who die every year. Those, by the way, were the people Howard Zinn celebrated.

 

Originally published at The Progressive, Dec. 17, 2010.

 

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