Almost a year ago I contacted Eagle Rising offering information about the Common Core PARCC test, and in return I was given a writing opportunity. Since then it has not always been a perfect time between my personal opinions and the website’s, but everyone here agrees on at least one thing: we all need an accurate historical education. I was given my beginning here in education, and I will continue that with this piece.
Recently, my American History teacher gave my class an assignment on Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and I must admit, I was curious to see what Zinn wrote. After reading the excerpt that was handed out, I noticed a large amount of either biases or flat out historical inaccuracies. My main concern is that I am one of the most informed students in my history class, and others would not have noticed the fallacies in the book. In the excerpt, it mentions two socialists, Eugene Debs and Charles Schenck. Both were criminals under the Espionage Act of 1917, and both were convicted of their crimes. Zinn portrayed both in a very positive light, up to the point that you would think they were martyred for the Socialist cause. Zinn also flatly insulted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes by saying that Holmes’ analogy of “Shouting fire in a movie theater” about Debs’ speech in outside a prison was inaccurate, and that Holmes should have said that Debs was protecting the potential draftees and that Debs told people to not buy tickets to a movie because there was a fire raging inside. Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg as inaccuracies are concerned.
Zinn also inaccurately states that it was unclear as to how the Espionage Act would be applied. Its purpose was very clear: to eliminate any threats from the inside to America’s war effort. It is no different than Lincoln’s suspending Habeas Corpus during the Civil War. The purpose was clear and just. The law is the law, especially during wartime.
When I was writing my article about Common Core a year ago, I remember hoping that I would never feel a need to write another piece regarding education, but that day has come. The indoctrination of our youth (including myself) has now infiltrated our high school classrooms. America is being vilified behind the parents’ backs, and you need to stop it. I am just a high schooler. I can’t do anything at the ballot box. It is all up to you, my friends.
As a former High School Social Studies teacher, I can vouch for the fact that US History teachers are often pushed to use Howard Zinn as a secondary resource in the classroom (Especially at the Advanced Placement and Honors Level). Zinn was a socialist whose writing reflects his values and personal political philosophies. He was a good writer, but an average (and biased) historian. A much better work for High School and College US History students is Paul Johnson’s brilliant work “A History of the American People.”
We are thankful for insights like the one provided here by Young Publius on the inner workings of America’s public schools.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com