[Howard Zinn raw #52]

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Interview with Tom Hayden about Howard Zinn.

0:04 Activist Tom Hayden chats with the film crew as they set up the boom mic for his interview. Filmmaker Denis Mueller and Tom Hayden talk about Hayden’s meeting with Fidel Castro. Hayden says the Castro government was afraid of the youth becoming hippies and refusing to fight in the case of foreign invasion. Hayden and filmmaker Deb Ellis discuss their mutual acquaintance doing journalistic work in Cuba.

5:11 Tom Hayden recounts his first time meeting Howard Zinn. Hayden says he was a student who had recently moved south to Atlanta to contribute to the civil rights movement. He learned of Spelman professors Staughton Lynd and Howard Zinn and met Zinn no later than 1961.

6:44 Hayden discusses the role of “elders” in the civil rights movement. He says that the 60s can be explained as a failure of the elders and a challenge to their failure. “I think that Howard’s role as a listener and as a person who was productive and trained and could utilize his skills, could bring some sense of history, could tell you what had gone before, and being careful not to impose his ideology on the movement. That’s very hard, to offer your services, but try to accommodate the emerging ideology, which is always going to be less refined or less developed than yours. I think that Howard was one who was respected for that very deeply.

9:09 Hayden discusses patriotism, and its role in the civil rights movement and his life. He says that growing up in a suburban middle-class family, he felt that there was such a hypocrisy at the heart of patriotism. He says that Zinn is one of the few people he’s met who is sincerely patriotic. Hayden credits Zinn’s patriotism to his immigrant origins and experiences as a Jewish WWII veteran.

12:49 Hayden talks about the importance of Howard Zinn for young activists. He says that Howard Zin1n is an iconic, counter-cultural intellectual for thousands of students and young people. “Howard has a heroic image among those who want to stand against the mainstream, but it’s not just the rebel stance. I think that he satisfies a hunger that students in particular have, but everybody has, which is to name the system, tell it like it is. And that’s an important function beyond moral dissent.” He talks about the importance of intellectuals to social movements.

22:39 Tom Hayden discusses traveling to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn and Staughton Lynd. He describes the brutality of the cluster bombs used by the U.S. military in Vietnam. He talks about the North Vietnamese cave systems. He tells an anecdote about Howard Zinn singing “America the Beautiful” for the North Vietnamese.

31:40 Hayden says that he wishes Zinn had been at the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle in 1999. He talks about the democratic spirit of the demonstration.

34:00 Hayden says that Zinn has provided his services to generation after generation of rebels. He recounts a speech that Zinn gave at a Vietnam teach-in about deceit and the Pentagon Papers. He says that the U.S. government is afraid of the American people and what they would be capable of if they found out the truth.

40:02 Tom Hayden says that Zinn and his political programs don’t give enough attention to electoral politics. “He’s like a Trotskyist, but he’s not a Trotskyist, because he’s not so dogmatic, but it’s kind of like a permanent revolution model. There’s no electoral role in it and institutions that are reformist? That’s not important.” He says Zinn might be an anarchist. He wonders whether Howard Zinn was ever a member of the Communist Party.

 

 

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