[Howard Zinn raw #35]

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Filmmaker Denis Mueller interviews Howard Zinn at Boston Playwrights Theater. They discuss Vietnam and the success of A People's History of the United States. Zinn speaks at an International Socialist Organization meeting on the importance of history.

0:19 Howard Zinn tells the story of being contacted by David Dellinger, who asked him to travel to Vietnam to help arrange for the release of American prisoners of war being held by the Viet Cong. He discusses his time in Vietnam.

8:08 Zinn says that most Americans today have only the dimmest notion of what we did to the country of Vietnam. He says the Vietnam War Memorial distorts the picture by focusing on the 58,000 American deaths rather than the two million Vietnamese people killed.

9:19 Zinn discusses the chemical and biological effects of the weapons used by the United States military in Vietnam. He dismisses President Jimmy Carter’s claim that “the destruction was mutual” when it came to the Vietnam War.

12:33 Zinn says he wants to have the same effect on his readers as books had on him as a child; he mentions The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Jungle, The Brass Check, and Boston by Upton Sinclair. He discusses the positive and heartwarming feedback he has gotten on A People’s History of the United States.

16:02 Zinn reflects on Oscar Handlin’s negative review of A People’s History published in The American Scholar. Zinn and filmmaker Denis Mueller discuss other negative responses to the book.

17:37 Zinn talks about the issues he has confronted in dealing with Fox Network executives in the process of producing a TV series with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck based on A People’s History of the United States. He discusses some of the writers they’ve been in contact with.

22:05 Footage of Zinn talking with others in a lecture hall before an International Socialist Organization meeting.

27:27 The ISO meeting starts, it is a town hall meeting on US bombings in Iraq . The meeting chair says they are calling this meeting in the spirit of the town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, where anti-war protesters broke the illusion of widespread support for military action and demanded answers from the Clinton administration, all live on CNN. The chair introduces Howard Zinn.

29:56 Howard Zinn speaks on the importance of knowing history in order to be a responsible, conscientious citizen. He quotes radical independent journalist I.F. Stone, who told journalism students, “the first thing you need to know and never forget if you want to be a journalist… governments lie.”

33:18 Zinn discusses how President Polk lied to the American people in order to bring about the Mexican-American War. He talks about US military action in Panama and Grenada. “The history of our involvement in foreign military interventions is a bizarre history full of lies and deceptions.”

34:55 Zinn says if people had a better understanding of history, they would be able to more critically consider the president’s claims. He talks about how B-52s are weapons of mass destruction. He talks about the need to “enlarge the picture” when it comes to current events, with historical and contemporary perspectives and comparisons.

38:28 Zinn’s speech ends and the audiences applauds. The chair introduces the next speaker. The next speaker condemns the political and media consensus around Saddam Hussein and military action in Iraq. The camera pans over the audience.

40:13 Footage of Zinn putting on his coat, leaving the lecture hall.

 

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