Dennis Prager debates Howard Zinn on American exceptionalism

First, a little bit about Howard Zinn from Roger Kimball, writing in National Review.


Zinn’s biography tells us that he was the author of “more than 20 books.” But only one matters: A People’s History of the United States. Published in 1980 with appropriately modest expectations — it had, I read somewhere, an initial print run of only 5,000 copies — the book went on to sell some 2 million and is still going strong. Its Amazon sales rank as of February 1, 2010, was 7. Seven.

[…]A People’s History is the textbook of choice in high schools and colleges across the country. No other account of our past comes even close in influence or ubiquity. No other, more responsible, telling of the American story had a chance. How could it? Given a choice between a book that portrayed America honestly — as an extraordinary success story — and a book that portrayed the history of America as a litany of depredations and failures, which do you suppose your average graduate of a teachers college, your average member of the National Education Association, would choose? To ask the question is to answer it. What this means is that most American students are battened on a story of their country in which Blame America First is a cardinal principle. No element of our heritage, from the derring-do of Christopher Columbus to the valor of the U.S. military in World War II, escapes the perverting alchemy of Howard Zinn’s exercise in deflationary revision.

How does Zinn defend his anti-American views against Jewish scholar Dennis Prager?

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

I remember hearing this live and wondering what has gone wrong with American education that a buffoon like this could write a textbook that would be the most popular history textbook used in American public schools. We need to have school choice and to avoid paying for any school other than the one we send our children to. It makes no sense to purchase education differently than the way we purchase anything else. On, you get what you want or your money back. Why is education different?

If you can’t see the videos and just want to read some of the debate, you can look here and here.

4 thoughts on “Dennis Prager debates Howard Zinn on American exceptionalism”

  1. Prager values clarity over agreement, but I think we can agree it’s clear that Zin is a buffoon. What I find so frustrating in dealing with the Zin’s of the world is this assumption that we war as a first resort. That would be #1. When GW Bush took us to Iraq, it followed twelve years of non-compliance by Hussein to the terms to which HE agreed following the first Gulf War. In reality, by his non-compliance, the Gulf War never really ended. There was all sorts of talk and something like 17 UN resolutions that lead to nothing but Hussein thumbing his nose at those who kicked his ass the first time around.

    #2 is how he likes to believe that the deaths that occur after the US enters a conflict is somehow our fault, as if the scum we fight were benevolent peaceniks spreading flowers and love througout their land. This is particularly galling when we consider how the current rules of engagement are overly concerned with protecting innocent civilians even at the cost of our own people.

    #3 is the notion that because there have been some instances where war was not needed to resolve issues, that whatever methods were employed in those cases would work in every situation. This would belie their notions of diversity to expect that everyone responds the same way, out of the same sets of values. What’s more, the reality is that historically, war has been more often the reason peace existed in the first place.

    #4 is the notion that we should never war no matter how badly things are going at the time. Hussein was responsible for the murder and disappearances of hundreds of thousands during his reign. How many more would have perished at his hand without our intervention? How many who died after we intervened would have been among those victims?

    I could go on with other points, but I’ll leave it there after saying that Zin’s attitude is typical of a leftist that has lost, or perhaps never really had a handle on the concept of morality, especially as it pertains to war.


    1. 1) Hussein was in violation of UN resolutions, like resolution 1441, if I remember correctly. He had used WMDs in the past, he was sponsoring terrorism in Israel. We believed it was only a matter of time before he attacked us. War was justified in my opinion. We had to deter future attacks, and we did. There were no more terrorist attacks following our decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. That is, until Obama took office.

      2) Zinn doesn’t understand the difference between intentionally targetting civilians, like a terrorist does, and accidentally killing civilians while attacking military targets, after taking all precautions NOT to kill them.

      3) Zinn spins non-violent solutions out of thin air, but the record of history shows that appeasement never works against dictators. Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” treaty didn’t contain Hitler – it was just a piece of paper. What contains a dictator is the threat of annihilation by military means. Military strength PREVENTS WAR.

      4) Isn’t it amazing how the left is viewed as compassionate, but they will not lift a finger militarily to provide the poorest people on the planet with basic freedoms, especially when those high ideals dovetail perfectly with out national security concerns? They want their single-payer health care, and who cares about the rape rooms and torture chambers.

      Si vis pacem, para bellum

      – “Let him who desires peace prepare for war”


      1. Zinn doesn’t understand the difference between intentionally targetting civilians, like a terrorist does, and accidentally killing civilians while attacking military targets, after taking all precautions NOT to kill them

        Ah like your use of “smart bombs”. Unfortunately you seem to produce the occasional “dumb bomb” like in 1999; “duh, I’m lost, where should I head to now, duh…how about the Chinese embassy in Belgrade!”


        1. The United States is not perfect, and in any case that’s Clinton. He probably restricted the use of good targeting equipment because he didn’t want to offend our enemies with a “disproportionate response”, the coward.


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