Monday, February 1, 2010

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

Reading In The Eye of The Sun has triggered a Domino Effect that has changed my life. Ahdaf Soueif's book toppled the first piece of my vast ignorance, and thus revealed to me the work of Edward Said. His  work introduced me to Rashid Khalidi, and on to Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Cornel West, Amy Goodman, Arundhati Roy, Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh, Naomi Klein, Chalmers Johnson, Lewis Lapham, Andrew Bacevich, Chris Hedges, Ghada Karmi, Karen Armstrong, Illan Pappe, Nuha Radi, Hanan Ashrawi, Steven Salaita, Howard Zinn, and so on.

The little I know about Zinn is that after volunteering & serving in World War II as a bombardier, he realized that even in a "good war" bombs dropped from on high killed innocent people below. Howard stopped and thought about what he did and that lead him to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist.  He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past fifty years. 

In his book A people's history of the United States he showed a history that is radically different than the usual state's or government's histories that are rarely challenged. His is critical of the US governments & their policies, and it rightfully portrays a very different picture of some traditional American heroes such as Christopher Columbus, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt. He introduces his readers to alternate heroes, like Mark Twain but not only as a talented author, but also as the vice president of the "American Anti-Imperialist League". To Helen Keller, not as a disabled person who overcame her handicaps and became a famous scientist, but as a socialist and labor organizer. He does that to bring those ideal figures back from obscurity to the forefront, and to inspire young people to say "This is the way to live".

To find out more about his life and work. please visit his website and to get a taste of his work, check out this link to a reading at the Lannan Foundation..

Howard Zinn will be missed by the people he inspired, young & old.

p.s. The falling domino pieces also guided me to the work of  Arab writers  & activist such as: Gamal el Ghitani, Yusuf al-Kaeed, Radwa Ashour, Mureed Barghouti, Mahmoud Darwish, Salwa Bakr, Alia Mamdouh, Fatima Mernissi, Gamal el Banna, Alaa el Aswani, Hanan al-Shaykh, Mohamed Makhzangi, Ahlam Mostaghanmi, Sahar el Mogy, Abdel Rahman Munif, Amin Maaloof, Emile Habibi, Galal Amin, Ghassan Kanafani, Hanna Mina, el Tayyib Saleh, Gamal Mahjoub, ............

No comments: