Confronting Government Lies
Humpty Dumpty, that great social philosopher, told Alice in a scornful tone, “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less.” Alice replied, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.” To which Humpty Dumpty responded, “The question is to be master-that’s all.” To cover their rears and to promote their agendas, leaders of governments lie. JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton. Dubya continues the tradition. To persuade the American people into believing that Iraq was an imminent threat to their security Bush and his cohorts disseminated a series of lies. The embedded corporate media were only too willing to go along.
Recorded at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Assn.
Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country’s premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once told me, “one step ahead of the landlord.” After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He taught at Spelman, the all-black women’s college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterpiece, A People’s History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many other books are You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian and Original Zinn with David Barsamian. Shortly before his death he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous and loved by many the world over, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. He would say, Don’t mourn. Get active. The struggle for peace and justice continues.