Friday, April 6, 2012

Matt Damon Brings Howard Zinn to Life

Fourteen years ago in his breakout performance as an arrogant young genius in the movie Good Will Hunting, actor Matt Damon’s character sneered at his Boston psychiatrist for “surrounding yourself with all the wrong f**kin’ books. You wanna read a real history book, read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. That book’ll f**kin’ knock you on your ass.”

That was from a script Damon himself had written (with fellow actor Ben Affleck, with Oscar-winning rewrite assistance from famed screenwriter William Goldman). It reflected Damon’s own real-life admiration for self-proclaimed radical historian Howard Zinn, whom he is still actively promoting today, almost two years to the day after Zinn’s death.
Damon went on to co-produce a documentary entitled “The People Speak,” based on A People’s History and Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which Zinn co-edited with anti-war-on-terror socialist Anthony Arnove. Other Hollywood folk like Josh Brolin, Marisa Tomei, Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortensen, Rosario Dawson, and Kerry Washington lent their star power to it for a History Channel premiere back in 2009.

On January 31st, actor/activist Damon lent his name and voice to a live performance in Chicago called “The People Speak, Live!” Composed of songs and dramatic readings based on the actual words of, as the organizers put it, “rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from America’s past,” the show was part of an ongoing program to promote Zinn’s subversive work.
Zinn was arguably the most popular proponent of the “history from below” school of historiography, which explores past events from the perspective of everyday people as opposed to the “Great Men” theory, which actor Brolin, another Zinn devotee, calls mere “propaganda.” Zinn’s 1980 book A People’s History of the United States, one of the best-selling history books of all time thanks partly to the influence of pop culture powerhouses like Damon, Brolin, and the rock group Pearl Jam, is a litany of oppression and exploitation on the part of America’s white ruling class, a “raggedly conceived Marxist caricature” of American history, as David Horowitz calls it in his Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.

Zinn’s book is as ubiquitous in high school and university classrooms as sexual tension. His website proudly asserts that “no other radical historian has reached so many hearts and minds.” Well certainly, no other has darkened as many young hearts toward America and clouded as many young minds with utter disdain for facts and objectivity. Like his fellow academic cult figure Noam Chomsky and President Obama’s former associate and likely ghostwriter, unrepentant-terrorist-turned-radical-educator William Ayers, Zinn’s world view is powered by a relentless and hateful leftist fantasy: that the American government is and always has been racist, oppressive, warmongering, and ruthlessly exploitative, and that it must be subverted. And that subversion begins in classrooms all across America.

The principal goal of “Voices of a People's History of the United States,” a “social justice” non-profit, is to provide thousands of schools across the country with Zinn’s reading materials and curricula, in-class activities, and group projects. The organization is raising funds to support teacher training programs, travel to education conferences, and other support for teachers who use Zinn materials in class.
This most recent Chicago benefit performance raised money for a year-long “arts project” for about a thousand local schools. In a fawning news segment for ABC about the Chicago performance last week, Damon says in the interview:

Your job as a citizen, whatever you believe, is to engage and participate. And that’s really the message that we want kids to take away. Because an engaged, an active citizenry is always going to make for a better country.
Really? Actually, as Thomas Jefferson supposedly noted, it’s an informed citizenry that is the bulwark of a democracy, and Damon and Zinn are not so much informing Americans as snowing them with destructive propaganda, which leads to the wrong kind of “active and engaged.” For example, the Occupy Wall Street movement is active and engaged – engaged in violent, anarchic class warfare at home and abroad. On the other hand, the Tea Party is active and engaged too – in peaceful, orderly protest of government run amuck. But Damon has demonized Tea Partiers as being willing to drive the American economy “off a cliff,” while expressing frustration with President Obama for not providing more leadership for the amorphous Occupy movement.

Zinn would have loved the Occupy movement. On his website he is quoted as saying,

I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power.
Damon too, seems to have an affinity for the Occupiers’ social revolution. He read the following in his Chicago performance, to rousing cheers from the audience:

You’re saying our problem is civil disobedience? That is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.
Harvard historian Oscar Handlin not only exposed the flaws of Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States long ago and shredded his “deranged fairy tale”; he also summed it up nicely: “Brendan Behan once observed that whoever hated America hated mankind, and hatred of humanity is the dominant tone of Zinn’s book.” This is the work Matt Damon is helping to perpetuate in America’s youth.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 2/8/12)