Arkansas Rep. Wants to Ban Howard Zinn Books

If you go to an Arkansas public or charter school, you may soon be unable to read Howard Zinn books under Representative Kim Hendren’s (R-92) proposed a bill. The work of Zinn, the late historian who published numerous books from the 1950s until 2010 that highlighted history from the victims’ respective points of view, will have to face the HB 1834 bill which strives to ban it from public and charter school curricula in the state. No bueno.

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present, Zinn’s arguably most famous work, published in 1980, “tells the nation’s story from the viewpoints of ordinary people the slaves, workers, immigrants, women, and Native Americans who made their own history but whose voices are typically omitted from the historical record.” Book Riot recently published an article on the topic pondering how this move could crush dialogue and debate in a contentious political period in U.S. history. We tend to agree. Here’s a quick snippet of their article:

“Zinn is a hugely controversial figure who made his name questioning the accepted version of American history and popularizing the history of oppressed groups. Removing his books from the classroom is especially alarming now, when dissenting voices in the U.S. are being labeled “fake news” or “paid protesters” by the Trump administration.


(Zinn would have loved that, by the way. It would have supported the point that he was always trying to make: elites are bad and American exceptionalism is a myth.) …


Zinn encouraged critical thought. Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, was one of Zinn’s students at Spelman College in the ’50s. Writing after his death in 2010, Edelman recalled Zinn as a teacher who taught his students to question everything, both in and outside of the classroom.In a time when the White House wants to control the message, questioning everything is a vital skill for any student.”

Book censorship is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a wholly destructive slippery slope that we must remain vigilant against. Plus, this specific situation reminds us of Fahrenheit 451… If we’ve learned anything from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, it’s not the way to go.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.


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