Howard Zinn has died

Howard Zinn has died. I’ve never met him (nor, more embarrassingly, read any of his books), but three summers ago I happened to be in Boston Common with D and EH when we were invited to watch a performance by the Port Huron Project (Wikipedia; Facebook). (Extra credit if you know to what the name refers without reading the links; additional bonus points if you know and you weren’t alive in 1960.) They reenacted an antiwar Zinn speech from 1971 called “The Problem is Civil Obedience.” I found it quite powerful. It was shocking how much of the speech could have been written about the Iraq occupation without any editing required at all. I also recall some of the homeless men from the Common participating in the audience — at least one was a Vietnam vet himself, and a couple of them seemed not to realize precisely the nature of the event.

I was pleased to discover that an excerpt of the speech is available in video form: see here.

We need to do something to disturb that calm, smiling, murderous president in the White House… because for six years the President has carried on an unconstitutional war, and for six years the bodies of Americans have been coming home in plastic bags, and for six years the villages and countryside of Vietnam have been destroyed, and these members of Congress have been sitting there silently, passively, voting the money for this war.

Young men will refuse to be drafted and women will defy the state, and we will refuse to pay our taxes, and we’ll disobey. And they’ll say we’re disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war.

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