howard zinn

When the newspapers were full of alarms about Iran possibly developing a nuclear bomb, Kurt sent me a copy of a very short letter he wrote to The New York Times: “I know of only one nation that has dropped nuclear bombs on innocent people.”
—  Howard Zinn on Kurt Vonnegut
TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
—  Howard Zinn
We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness – embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.

Howard Zinn

Love this quote as it encapsulates the process of “awakening” and starting to /get/ these issues so well.

I’m very suspicious of people who would say that criticizing your government is unpatriotic. Somebody one said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, and i think that that really puts it really concisely. I think that the world you wanna live in - the country you wanna live in - is shaped by people giving a shit.

Tim McIlrath of Rise Against in “Another Station: Another Mile”

(The ‘somebody’ is Howard Zinn)

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
—  Howard Zinn
The system is racist. So, in a way, it doesn’t matter if individuals are racist. But if the system is racist and white folks aren’t proactively anti-racist in their words and deeds, they still give weight and momentum to systemic racism. As Howard Zinn famously said: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”
In other words, it isn’t enough to be not-racist. Even if that were possible, it would accomplish nothing except to serve as a form of self-justification. We must all be anti-racist…to name racism, work against racism, and deliberately model and enact what true equality and equity look in every aspect of life.
—  Mark Van Steenwyk