Remembering Howard Zinn and His Antiwar Message Nearly a Decade Later

Photo Credit: Luke Henderson

It’s been nearly 10 years since the death of Air Force bombardier turned Historian and activist Howard Zinn, whose antiwar rhetoric continues to influence the conversation of U.S. interventionism to this day. I was first introduced to Zinn through stumbling upon a copy of A Power Government’s Cannot Suppress, a title which caught my eye due to my already established views of minimal government and the ability of people to take control of their lives. What I ended up reading was not what I expected and opened my eyes to the truly horrifying history of the many wars and interventions committed the US.

Coming from a libertarian background, I was already familiar with Ron Paul’s views on noninterventionist foreign policy, but I never expected to have these cemented by a Progressive. Zinn’s ability to reveal the personal and emotional side of history made his book almost uncomfortable to read at times as I felt a great weight in my chest learning of all the innocent casualties of the US bombings in the Middle East.

In the section titled Afghanistan, the author ponders whether the heartfelt reaction that Americans had to those citizens who lost their lives on 9/11 would have the same reaction when faced with the names and faces of innocents bombed by the US military.

“Most Americans are normally compassionate people, whose instincts go against war,” he writes “but most who were seduced by early official assurances and who consoled themselves with words like ‘limited’ military action and ‘measured’ response. I think they, too, if confronted with the magnitude of the human suffering caused by US attacks, would have second thoughts.”

Zinn proceeds to share snippets from news stories of those who were injured or died from bombings, but were clearly not terrorists. He recounts many children, those not dead were missing limbs and eyes or in comas, who had their houses destroyed after Sunday dinner, or perished sitting on their porches, and the many fathers and mothers who were now widowed or left their children orphans.

“I suggest that the history of bombing […] is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like ‘accident,’ ‘military targets,’ and ‘collateral damage,” he concludes reminding of the multiple claims that “limited military action” is but a pipedream with the use of bombs.

Later in the book, he slaps the reader in the face with the bluntly titled Governments Lie which served to explain how so many Americans were fooled into supporting an invasion to find weapons of mass destruction when it was clear the UN that there was no evidence of them. The reason that the US media and population became so drawn into the wartime rhetoric, according to Zinn, was due to lack of “honesty history” in a citizens education.

He claims “[…] if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have made similar declarations to the country and how…

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