[Howard Zinn raw #86: Zinn speaks about the Patriot Act]

In a 2003 speech, Zinn examines the Patriot Act and the U.S.'s involvement in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

01:15Copy video clip URL The tape comes up, showing the host of Democracy Now!, a Pacifica Radio show, Amy Goodman.

01:45Copy video clip URL Howard Zinn speaks about the Patriot Act and its impact on immigrants from Mexico. He contrasts those immigrants’ label as “aliens” with the people he sees as aliens: the men in the White House.

02:20Copy video clip URL Goodman explains that today’s show will focus on Howard Zinn and many “more.” This edition constitutes the show’s Indigenous People’s Day special edition. The “true story” behind Christopher Columbus’s American discovery, the host says, was largely brought to light by Howard Zinn.

04:20Copy video clip URL The show cuts to Zinn’s 2003 Provincetown, Massachusetts speech on “the Patriot Act, war, and empire.” Zinn is speaking about the increasing relevance of truth, and how that is testament to the progress being made in the world.

05:00Copy video clip URL Zinn explores the story of the initial abolitionists and the resistance which they met; and also how their truth meant that they did not give up. He points out that it was this movement, based on truth, that created the Emancipation Proclamation — not Abraham Lincoln or any other particular politician.

06:45Copy video clip URL Zinn speaks on the invisibility of Black people, and how this served as their motivation to work by themselves to bring about the change they needed — to become visible.

08:00Copy video clip URL “That’s what social movements do: they bring the truth to people,” Zinn says, as he shifts his focus to the Vietnam War and the way that everybody simply accepted the truth given to them by the authority figures of the time. Zinn explains that it was only small independent news media companies which brought the real truth to the American public — and eventually a national movement against the war.

10:30Copy video clip URL Zinn speaks on the importance of G.I.s in creating opposition to the Vietnam War. “There was never anything like it,” he says, about the G.I.s actions.

11:20Copy video clip URL “The truth is just beginning to come out,” Zinn says about what is now being learnt about the war in Iraq. He makes a forceful comparison between the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq with the Nazi’s in France and the Soviet Union’s across various nations during the Cold War.

13:30Copy video clip URL Zinn notes the newly-reported cases of torture and other atrocities coming out of Iraq. He reads an Amnesty International report about one such case. He critiques the U.S.’s involvement there, citing the false pretenses which the government has given for it.

15:00Copy video clip URL Zinn turns his attention to the soldiers within Iraq, saying that their behavior is similar to that of a fearful police officer. He notes stories of soldiers asking the question themselves: “why are we here?” Those soldiers, Zinn says, feel that the global leaders pushing for U.S. involvement in Iraq are actually evil.

16:20Copy video clip URL Zinn notes something he finds more dangerous than Iraq: “the occupation of the United States.” He cites a feeling that some “alien” order has taken over. He then notes the use of that same word in describing illegal U.S. residences. Zinn says that those people are not aliens to him — but rather that the “men in the White House” are alien to him.

17:50Copy video clip URL Zinn critiques the leaders of the U.S. as having no compassion for the majority of the American population, whether it’s through their dispassion towards climate change or excitement to fight wars around the world. He cites a recurring sense of “self-determination” in the U.S., and points to it being responsible for atrocities during the Vietnam War as well.

19:30Copy video clip URL Zinn critiques the justification “war on terrorism,” pointing out that war itself is terrorism. “It makes us less secure,” Zinn says, of the impacts of our antiterrorist actions.

20:30Copy video clip URL Zinn goes on a tangent, tearing into the idea of “the West.” He says that idea disappeared long ago, when the U.S. alienated the rest of the “West” and came to rule many Eastern nations.

22:00Copy video clip URL The film cuts back to the newsroom of Democracy Now! for a brief interlude from Zinn’s speech. During that interlude, b-roll from protests against the Patriot Act is shown.

23:30Copy video clip URL The show cuts back to Zinn, as he speaks on the ridiculousness of the U.S. government’s actions in seeking out the perpetrators of 9/11. He notes how their ineptitude created extensive bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq — the “the horror of the world.” He also critiques Guantanamo Bay, and the horrors of that prison, as well as the Patriot Act.

25:00Copy video clip URL Zinn calls the war on terror a war on not only the innocent citizens of other countries, but also the American people — their liberties, standard of living, and wealth. Zinn quotes Eisenhower saying that every weapon made is a theft of wealth from the American people.

26:00Copy video clip URL Zinn cites even the “distorted” polls as showing declining support in Bush’s presidency. He then quotes Thomas Friedman in saying that he sees 95% of the U.S. population as opposed to the war in Iraq.

27:10Copy video clip URL Zinn speaks on how the opinions and feelings of Black people are often a good bellwether for the sentiments of the nation. He then notes that their opposition to the war has sat steady at 60% throughout the past several years of turmoil. Zinn then shares an anecdote about being interviewed on a Black radio show in Washington, D.C. He reads several notes he took from the questions which callers asked him while he was on the show. Each one is derisive agains the war and the way that the U.S. government has framed it.

30:00Copy video clip URL Zinn says that he believes the casualties of the Iraq ware becoming increasingly clear. He points to the importance of new communication systems in creating opposition to the wary — systems such as the internet. Zinn then shares a story from the French-American war to illustrate the two sets of casualties which war creates: the deaths of soldiers on the battlefield, and the untold pain and suffering that goes on elsewhere. He notes the expansive suicides of soldiers who fought in Vietnam, and parallels that with the similar toll from the Gulf War.

32:50Copy video clip URL Zinn begins to speak about the weaponry used in modern war, noting how they actually injured American soldiers who were using them. He also explains his belief that a government who is ruthless in fighting others will also be ruthless in its treatment of the nation it’s tasked to protect.

33:20Copy video clip URL In exploring what normal people can do about all this, Zinn uses Noam Chomsky’s words to explain that truth in the hands of the many is the most powerful thing in the world. He then derides the American news media for contributing the delusion of the American people when it comes to the Iraq war. Additionally, Zinn says, word of mouth is an exceptionally powerful tool for spreading truth.

35:30Copy video clip URL In the quest to spread truth, Zinn says, we have the support of the world and of artists.

36:40Copy video clip URL Zinn says that there is no action too small; he points to librarians who are shredding their records because they know that they do not contain the truth. He also looks at high school students who themselves are working to “take back” the country.

37:55Copy video clip URL Zinn’s talk concludes, and the tape cuts back to the Democracy Now! newsroom. B-roll of the same protests returns, with peaceful music accompanying it.

39:50Copy video clip URL Goodman explains that for the next segment in this special, they will be traveling to Alaska where an oil spill had untold negative impacts on the indigenous population there. Goodman focuses on one member of the indigenous population in Alaska, a fisherman, who now fights to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

41:50Copy video clip URL The film goes dark.

42:14Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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