“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Noam Chomsky, the activist and MIT professor, said last night. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.” Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn’s writings “simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation.” [via The Boston Globe]
Historian, activist, and all-around 9th Dan ninja master Howard Zinn passed away yesterday, January 27th, of a heart attack while traveling in California.
His most well-known work, A People’s History of the United States, changed the way that many of us looked at history – giving a view of the rise of the US without a patriotic filter feigning perfection. Zinn wished for us to consider the whole picture when viewing our history, including the oftentimes unfortunate, embarrassing – and sometimes horrifying – aspects of it that are far too often whitewashed in our school textbooks. He challenged us to take a long, hard look at our history – and at ourselves – in the hope that we could take what we learned to shape a better future for this nation, and the world.
Possibly even more importantly, Zinn worked to spread the idea that dissent was an essential part of democratic life – and that questioning the status quo and demanding more / something better was possibly the most ‘American’ thing we could do as informed citizens.
Rest in peace, sir.
[Note: A People’s History is a must-read for ninjas, in case you somehow didn’t know – otherwise you’re running around here uninformed like a white belt. Knowledge is the most important weapon in your arsenal.]