A blog on progressive news and politics on both the California and Nevada sides of Lake Tahoe which aims at helping to elect Democrats and Turn Tahoe Blue. The blog is written from Germany by a former German exchange student at George Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Letter Of The Week - "History Is About Perspectives"

Perspectives, you might ask. I hope you don't, though. Cause, after all, this is a progressive blog and you should kinda know the basics. Anyhow, the letter of the week was written by Whitney Foehl of Truckee and published in the Sierra Sun:

Being a historian, I often find journalists have a warped sense of history, and what's worse, they spread it around for all to read.

The July 3 column (“Iconoclasts and the Fourth” Sierra Sun) by Jay Ambrose was filled with all the rhetoric of an extreme rightwing journalist with little historical background. Besides numerous other flaws, I was especially offended by his insistence that Howard Zinn has no credibility as a historian.

History is about perspectives, not right or wrong, black or white. Zinn writes from the people's perspective, usually including various groups that have been excluded from the master narrative that is U.S. history. He gives voice to those who have been shut out and his work is highly respected by historians throughout the nation. For Ambrose to paint him out as someone whose work should be discarded because it is “outrageously subjectivist, unsubstantiated” shows Ambrose's own naive and underdeveloped intellect as a historian.

For Ambrose to tell readers that to teach Zinn's history is to “dispense the virus of anti-American, leftist propaganda” shows little understanding of what U.S. history entails and how complex it really is. Howard Zinn is a true patriot, very similar in fact, to Sam and John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abe Lincoln.

It is hard to imagine that a small newspaper journalist like Ambrose knows more about history than a professional, life-long PhD historian like Zinn. There is a reason that Zinn's work is read throughout the academic world and a reason that he is so well-respected among historians today. I just wanted to set the record straight. Historian vs. journalist? No contest.


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