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Recent Z Nightly Commentaries
Zinn: Veterans Day
Nov 15, 2002
Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, because it was November 11, 1918, at 11 AM - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, that the first World War came to an end. It would be good to remember a few things about that war as this country is about to embark on still another war. First, that you donâ€™t "win" wars. We "won" World War I, but sowed the seeds of another world war. War is a quick fix, like crack. An exultant high - we won! - and soon youâ€™re down again, and you need another fix, another war. In World War I. the German Kaiser was presented as the epitome of evil - a threat to the world,, who must be eliminated for our safety. In truth, he was bad, but his danger to us was enormously exaggerated, as with Saddam Hussein. So the Allies defeated Germany, got rid of the Kaiser, and ten million men died on the battlefields. We can get rid of Saddam Hussein. Iraq is a fifth-rate military power, with no Air Force to speak of, its army a remnant of what it was ten years ago, the country still in ruins, its infrastructure devastated by two wars, its people weakened by ten years of sanctions depriving people of food and hospitals of medicine, and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. And the U.S. with its invincible Air Force, will win. In the course of that, tens of thousands of Iraqis will die, , many of them innocent civilians, others poor, miserable conscripts in the Iraqi army. We will be killing the victims of Saddam Hussein. . Because of its high tech weaponry and overwhelming military superiority, America will lose few soldiers. But it will lose its soul. World War I, presented to the public as a war for democracy, for freedom, was in fact a war fought by imperial powers (France, England, Russia) against an imperial rival, Germany. It led, not to the freedom of colonial peoples, but to a change in who dominated the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe. Now, the war in Iraq is presented as a moral crusade to end the menace of "weapons of mass destruction", the evidence for which is far from clear. The assumption that Saddam would use them and invite annihilation (since most weapons of mass destruction in the world are held by the United States) makes no sense. As in the first World War, there are imperial motives at work, and the defeat of Saddam will lead to a change in who controls the precious oil reserves of Iraq. Deals will be cut with Russia, France and England to divide the booty. The talks are going on right now. The first World war was sold to the American public as "the war to end ll wars". But twenty-one years later came World War II, in which fifty million people were killed. The United Nations was formed, as its Charter says, "to end the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind". But no, itâ€™s been war after war for the United States: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia. All accompanied by claims that we were at war for some good cause, all resulting in the loss of human life, all demanding acceptance of the governmentâ€™s reasons for war, most of which turned out to be lies. We should have learned from Vietnam that true patriotism does not mean marching off to war just because the government tells you to. Those 58,000 names on the Washington memorial should make that clear. As a veteran of World War II, as a student of the history of our wars, and contemplating still another war, I suggest we keep certain things in mind. First, that we must be extremely skeptical of whatever government officials tell us about the reasons for going to war. Second, that what is certain about war is that large numbers of innocent people will die, including many children, and what is uncertain about war is that any good will come of it. Finally, that when you go to war, you assume that the lives of people in another country are not as valuable as the lives of your own countrymen. If we really believe, as our most fundamental moral principles demand we believe, that the children in other countries have as much right to live as our children, then we must refuse the call to war. It is time, by public demand, by general outcry, to end "the scourge of war" . The best thing we can do for Veterans Day is to pledge: "No more war veterans".
Zinn: TENNIS ON THE TITANIC
Dec 16, 2000
As the prize of the presidency lurched wildly back and forth in the last days of the year, with the entire nation hypnotized by the spectacle, I had a vision. I saw the Titanic churning through the waters of the North Atlantic toward an iceberg looming in
Zinn: A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT CLASS
Sep 30, 2000
There came a rare amusing moment in this election campaign when George Bush (who has raised $150 million or thereabouts, anyhow, for his campaign) accused Al Gore (who has only raised $140 million or thereabouts, anyway, for his campaign) of appealing to
Aug 18, 2000
I am surprised that my friend Hans Koning, a stalwart protester against the war in Vietnam, seems to have been taken in by the argument of Richard Frank, in his review of Frank's DOWNFALL. Yes, we must all be willing to reconsider our most hardened judgem
Zinn: A Fourth of July Commentary
Jul 04, 2000
In this year 2000, I cannot comment more meaningfully on the Fourth of July than Frederick Douglass did when he was invited in 1852 to give an Independence Day address. He could not help thinking about the irony of the promise of the Declaration of Indepe
Zinn: THE HEROES AROUND US
May 07, 2000
Recently, meeting with a group of high school students, I was asked by one of them: "I read in your book, A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, about the massacres of Indians, the long history of racism, the persistence of poverty in the richest coun
Zinn: Sender Garlin
Mar 09, 2000
As the twentieth century came to an end last December, an extraordinary man, whose life spanned the century, died at the age of ninety-seven. His name was Sender Garlin.
Zinn: Notes for a Gathering
Jan 02, 2000
I have been asked to imagine this situation: "The progressive third party movement has captured the White House, 60% of Congress and 30 Governorships. What do we do now?"
Dec 22, 1999
In the year 1919, when the city of Seattle was brought to a halt by a general strike - beginning with 35,000 shipyard workers demanding a wage increase - the mayor reflected on its significance:
Zinn: On Rewarding People for Talents and Hard WorkÊ
Nov 25, 1999
There are two issues here: First, why should we accept our culture's definition of those two factors? Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an Advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior
Zinn: On Rewarding People for Talents and Hard Work
Nov 25, 1999
There are two issues here: First, why should we accept our culture's definition of those two factors? Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an Advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior to the talent of an auto mechanic who makes $40,000 a year?
Zinn: A Larger Consciousness
Oct 10, 1999
Some years ago, when I was teaching at Boston University, I was asked by a Jewish group to give a talk on the Holocaust. I spoke that evening, but not about the Holocaust of World War II, not about the genocide of six million Jews.
Zinn: Beyond the Soviet Union
Sep 02, 1999
In the spirit of killing two obligations with one effort, I offer as my Commentary a response I just made to a letter by a retired professor in California, who wrote: "As a great admirer of Howard Zinn [should he have said "as a former great admirer..."?]
Zinn: Inspire Please
Jul 16, 1999
The order came from above (I will not reveal the name, unless tortured) ): "Write something inspirational." The exact words were: "Inspire, please."
Zinn: Whose Atrocity Is Bigger
May 25, 1999
Milosovic has committed atrocities. Therefore it is okay for us to commit atrocities. He is terrorizing the Albanians in Kosovo. Therefore we can terrorize the population of cities and villages in Yugoslavia.
Zinn: On Getting Along
Mar 07, 1999
You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted to this awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison to those who have power?