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Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train  

  Last weekend I attended the premiere of a documentary on the radical historian and retired B.U. professor Howard Zinn, author of the towering “People’s History of the United States”.   The film tells Zinn’s story from formative childhood experiences through his time as a bombardier in WWII and his participation in many of the last century’s key social movements (he was especially active in the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements).   In the wake of 9/11, at age 81, he finds himself more in demand than ever as he speaks out against war.  

What inspires is not only Zinn’s sustained commitment to social justice, but also his unflagging humor and optimism.   Studying the history of people’s movements gives him hope that humanity may still win a decent future.   The film is a moving look at an exemplary life.   As Chomsky has observed of Zinn, “His contributions are truly incomparable”.   Includes interviews with, among many others, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden and Alice Walker.   Narrated by Matt Damon.   Hopefully coming soon to your public television station, or available via mail order.  

Incidentally, I’ve worked a bit with the filmmaker, Dennis Meuller, and was in attendance at the Eugene Debs Award ceremony depicted in the film, where I met Zinn.


--Oct 14, 2003

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