Having a conversation about American history with folks under thirty can be exasperating.
Recently, after praising a new book about President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Millennial I was chatting with asked, “Who is Eisenhower”?
Shocked by the answer, I followed up with a series of questions:
When did the Civil War begin? Response: “1776”
World War I? “1940s”
Korean War? “Never heard of it.”
Lyndon Johnson? “Who’s he?”
Thinking back, I should not have been surprised. That’s because time devoted to teaching history in classrooms across the nation has been declining at a rapid pace.
The distinguished historian Allen C. Guelzo has pointed out that since the creation of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, “71% of the Nation’s school districts reduced the instructional time spent on history, music, and other subjects, in order to double down on reading and math. By 2014, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 18% of American eighth-graders could be considered ‘proficient’ in American history.”
It is also estimated that 60% of America’s youth would fail the American history and civics sections of the naturalization exam.
Sadly, the bit of history many students are exposed to in the classroom is often nothing more than anti-American propaganda and distorted facts.
And the leading textbook that introduces students to a radically jaundiced view of our nation is Howard Zinn’s "A People’s History of the United States."
Zinn (1922-2010), a devotee of Karl Marx’s socialist vision and a founding member of the 1960s extremist group Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), held that our history is nothing more than “a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States.”
His textbook, Zinn declared, is “a history of slaveowners against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor.” American history, for him, has been “nothing more than a litany of oppression, slavery and expectations.”
When Zinn’s alternative history was first published in 1980, leading liberal historians actually dismissed it. Eugene Genovese, a Marxist, said it was “incoherent left-wing sloganizing.” Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. called Zinn “a polemicist, not a historian.”
Michael Kazin, an expert on U.S. progressive and populist movements, described “A People’s History” as “polemic disguised as history.” Zinn’s “failure,” he added, was “grounded in a premise better suited to a conspiracy-monger’s web site than to work of scholarship.”
However, those scathing reviews did not stop "A People’s History" from becoming a leading textbook used in schools. Since publication in 1980, over 2.8 million copies have been sold and the web site that promotes the work has over 300,000 followers.
And plenty of kids indoctrinated with Zinn’s propaganda in the late 20th century are now teachers inculcating a new generation of students.
Fortunately, there is now a book that impeaches Zinn’s fractured view of history: Mary Grabar’s "Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America."
Dr. Grabar, a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, acknowledges Zinn’s propaganda and lies have “succeeded in convincing a generation of Americans that the nation Abraham Lincoln truly called the last best hope of Earth, is essentially a racist, criminal enterprise built on murdering Indians, exploiting slaves, and oppressing the working man.”
But in "Debunking Howard Zinn," Grabar skillfully exposes Zinn’s distortions of evidence and falsification of facts.
For instance, readers will learn that contrary to Zinn’s claims, Christopher Columbus was not a genocidal maniac; that the U.S. was founded not to protect white males’ ill-gotten wealth; that Abraham Lincoln was not “a cowardly racist politician beholden to powerful money interests,” and that the United States is not “the moral equivalent of Hitler’s Germany.”
"Debunking Howard Zinn" proves that he “abandoned disinterested scholarships and truthful history for ideology and propaganda, overturning all traditional academic standards.”
For parents shocked by what they learn in "Debunking Howard Zinn," I recommend they run out and buy for their children "A History of the American People" by the renowned British historian, Paul Johnson.
For Johnson, the “creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures” and that the “great American republican experiment is still the cynosure of the world’s eyes. It is still the first, best hope for the human races.”
Johnson’s “labor of love,” as he calls his wonderful work, is the perfect antidote to Howard Zinn’s fake American history.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. To read more George J. Marlin — Click Here Now.
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