Home > History, Human Rights > Why I Love History

Why I Love History

Howard Zinn at Babylonmedia's international an...

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Every now and then, I have to remind myself why I decided to go back to school; I work 50 hours a week, and coupled with the hours I must devote to school, it makes for a very chaotic life for me and my partner! Then, like a refreshing summer rainstorm, I encounter passages such as these two while studying during my lunch break.

From historian Staughton Lynd‘s book, Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism:

“… that the proper foundation for government is a universal law of right and wrong self evident to the intuitive common sense of every man; that freedom is a power of personal self direction which no man can delegate to another; that the purpose of society is not the protection of property but fulfillment of the needs of living human beings; that good citizens have the right and duty, not only to overthrow incurable oppressive governments, but before that point is reached to break particular oppressive laws; and that we owe our ultimate allegiance, not to this or that nation, but to the whole family of man.”

And this from Howard Zinn‘s The Politics of History:

” History cannot provide confirmation that something better is inevitable; but it can uncover evidence that it is conceivable. It can point to moments when human beings cooperated with another (the organization of the underground railroad by black and white, the French Resistance to Hitler, the anarchist achievements in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War). It can find times when governments were capable of a bit of genuine concern ( the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the free medical care in socialist countries, the equal-wages principle of the Paris Commune). It can disclose men and women acting as heroes rather than culprits or fools (the story of Thoreau or Wendell Phillips or Eugene Debs, or Martin Luther King or Rosa Luxemburg). It can remind us that apparently powerless groups have won against overwhelming odds (the abolitionists and the Thirteenth Amendment, the CIO and the sit down strikes, the Vietminh and the Algerians against the French).”

It’s historians such as Staughton Lynd that have helped guide me to follow this path of becoming a historian at this stage of my life. This is why I write historical posts on this blog relating actions of the historically oppressed. It’s to put you and myself into the shoes of those who were and are oppressed, and deliver the message that although change may not be inevitable, it is possible. I read and write in this manner to understand stereotype and oppression, and to help overcome the complacency that slows human progress concerning human rights.

Call me radical, call me a bleeding heart, call me a lib-tard. I don’t care. I’m proud of those monikers; I proudly wear them on my chest as badges of compassion and human dignity. I may never be a Zinn or Lynd, but it doesn’t matter. It is my passion, as well as my duty to follow in their giant footsteps.

I am Tin Foil Hat Man, and I am a radical historian. I can never be anything else.

  1. July 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    It’s to put you and myself into the shoes of those who were and are oppressed, and deliver the message that although change may not be inevitable, it is possible.

    Even when you don’t think there’s a Slurpees chance in hell, it can happen.


    • July 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      The LGBT movement is a great current example. I never thought I would see a movement advance so far so fast. I know they have been oppressed for as long as mankind itself, but the progress this movement has made in the last 4 decades is really quite remarkable.

      On Wed Jul 13th, 2011 2:18 PM EDT


  2. carvingoutavoice
    July 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I do believe you will be a Zinn or Lynd whether you gain their stature or not. You already are, right here on this blog and I’m very proud to be your partner.


  3. July 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Howard Zinn was AWESOME!


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