Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Howard Zinn

Empire or Humanity?

What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire
By Howard Zinn

With an occupying army waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with military bases and corporate bullying in every part of the world, there is hardly a question any more of the existence of an American Empire. Indeed, the once fervent denials have turned into a boastful, unashamed embrace of the idea.

However the very idea that the United States was an empire did not occur to me until after I finished my work as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in the Second World War, and came home. Even as I began to have second thoughts about the purity of the "Good War," even after being horrified by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even after rethinking my own bombing of towns in Europe, I still did not put all that together in the context of an American "Empire."

I was conscious, like everyone, of the British Empire and the other imperial powers of Europe, but the United States was not seen in the same way. When, after the war, I went to college under the G.I. Bill of Rights and took courses in U.S. history, I usually found a chapter in the history texts called "The Age of Imperialism." It invariably referred to the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the conquest of the Philippines that followed. It seemed that American imperialism lasted only a relatively few years. There was no overarching view of U.S. expansion that might lead to the idea of a more far-ranging empire -- or period -- of "imperialism."

I recall the classroom map (labeled "Western Expansion") which presented the march across the continent as a natural, almost biological phenomenon. That huge acquisition of land called "The Louisiana Purchase" hinted at nothing but vacant land acquired. There was no sense that this territory had been occupied by hundreds of Indian tribes which would have to be annihilated or forced from their homes -- what we now call "ethnic cleansing" -- so that whites could settle the land, and later railroads could crisscross it, presaging "civilization" and its brutal discontents.

Neither the discussions of "Jacksonian democracy" in history courses, nor the popular book by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Age of Jackson, told me about the "Trail of Tears," the deadly forced march of "the five civilized tribes" westward from Georgia and Alabama across the Mississippi, leaving 4,000 dead in their wake. No treatment of the Civil War mentioned the Sand Creek massacre of hundreds of Indian villagers in Colorado just as "emancipation" was proclaimed for black people by Lincoln's administration.

That classroom map also had a section to the south and west labeled "Mexican Cession." This was a handy euphemism for the aggressive war against Mexico in 1846 in which the United States seized half of that country's land, giving us California and the great Southwest. The term "Manifest Destiny," used at that time, soon of course became more universal. On the eve of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Washington Post saw beyond Cuba: "We are face to face with a strange destiny. The taste of Empire is in the mouth of the people even as the taste of blood in the jungle."


micki said...

Interesting to juxtapose your post today, DEN, regarding Howard Zinn with Lee Hamilton's endorsement of Obama.

Professor Zinn was one of dozens of signatories to a request for a new 9/11 report. He and others were quite disappointed with the 9/11 Commission report that was prepared with Lee Hamilton as one of the Vice-Chairman of the commission. Hamilton also had a "leadership" role on the Iraq Study Group. Well.....we know how that went!

Obama will get plenty of positive press from this latest endorsement, but Professor Zinn and others will undoubtedly remember that Lee Hamilton is the Republicans' go-to-guy when they need a token Democrat who won't make waves or press too hard on getting answers.

Alan said...

More LAME 'spin' from the Mickster...

I probably wouldn't have said anything, because I wouldn't see it as any big deal. As I said, presidential candidates meet with editorial boards of all stripes....

But, to be clear, Alan...she didn't exactly meet "with Scaife" -- she met with the entire editorial board of the paper, plus what appears as quite a number of observers to the counter-intuitive event..

Yeah, she met with him. Sat right next to him to be exace, and he wasn't the enemy either. So let me ask: Did you...
1. ASSUME this info
2. get it from Hillary's contortion, err talking points
3. make this up too??

According to this article, she laid down with the enemy in a deal that was already cooked up. So you're wrong again pal.

Did Senator Hillary Clinton Face Sniper Fire When Talking with Richard Mellon Scaife?

Oh, dear me, from the way that you hear the Clinton fabulists tell it, Hillary again faced the threat of a fusillade of bullets – albeit of the right-wing caliber – when she ventured into an editorial board meeting sitting side by side with the key financier of the vast right-wing conspiracy against the Clintons in the early ‘90s, Richard Mellon Scaife.

Only, as I have noted in previous BuzzFlash editor’s blogs (see bottom of this page for urls), Hillary and Bill Clinton have been spending some of the last 8 years seducing the Darth Vaders of the media assault on them by proving that they are "centrists" and willing to play in the corporate leagues.

I noted in a previous blog that Bill Clinton last fall had courted Richard Mellon Scaife and got him to allegedly sign over a big check to Clinton’s 10 billion dollar foundation funding (whose donors are still inexplicably undisclosed to the public.)

I also provided links to a highly flattering interview and article about Clinton in NewsMax, which Scaife co-owns.

So, it would take an ignoramus to believe that Senator Hillary Clinton did not know that she was going into now friendly territory, without the sniper fire that she falsely claimed on several occasions to have heroically dodged in Bosnia. In fact, the interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was as friendly as a picnic in the park. It provided Senator Clinton friendly territory to get out to a right-wing angry white male audience a reportedly prepared statement that attacked Obama in regards to being a member of Jeremiah Wright’s church.
By all means read the rest of the article. And for the record, it was the author and not me that called you an ignoramous.

Alan said...

At "Crooks...", Colbert's clip "Bears and Balls" is hilarious.

Carey said...

I haven't had much time to study these conflicts that keep cropping up on the political scene.

I find them stupid, can't handle the give and take, it's downright boring. Much untruth going on everywhere. Hey, that's politics.

The endorsement of asshole Scaife, whatever it means, isn't surprising. It kind of falls into a trend with Hillary.

I do know this. Many feelings have been hurt all across the Democratic Party board. Is it necessary? I think some of it, yes. These brouhahas bave been brewing since the Clintons entered the political scene.

The racial issues cropping up? About time, don't you think?


When is Gen. Petraeus testifying? I saw Gens. Odom and McCaffrey this a.m. in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

DEN said...

Carey, Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Time: 2:30 P.M.
Place: 216 Hart Senate Office Building
Presiding: Senator Biden

+The Honorable Ryan C. Crocker
Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq
Department of State
Washington, DC
+General David H. Petraeus, USA
Multi-National Force-Iraq
Baghdad, Iraq


Mark your calender.

DEN said...

Alan, good catch!

"All in all, the Hillary Clinton campaign is getting so indistinguishable from the past tactics of the Bush campaign (particularly using parsed, evasive, coded statements) that, absent the recent emergence of populist rhetoric to win the white lunch bucket vote in PA, you’d think Karl Rove was running her campaign."

Gimme a D!
Gimme an I!
Gimme a N!
Gimme an O!

Whats that spell?!
Whats that spell?!

DEN said...

Exactly who are those contributors to slick willies library??

My guess is a who's who of the RNC!

Why else would the sneaky buggers hold back unless it would embarrass them?

David B. Benson said...

Not D.B. Cooper's parachute.

Made of silk, from 1944 or '45...

DEN said...

Uh Doc, WWII era chutes were quite plentiful back then in surplus stores cheap.

Alan said...

haha Now Rove calls Obama unpatriotic because he doesn't wear the flag lapel pin, while not wearing one himself. It's at

ÂșCÂșarol said...

Den, sorry for my ignorance, but I finally have to ask a stupid question. Just what exactly do you mean when you say Dino? Is it an acronym for something?

I just remembered something, there are no stupid questions. Just questions. Now I feel better.

David B. Benson said...

Den --- Thanks. No need to assume that it was the result of a parachuting then.

D.B. Cooper's chute was handed to him. A, at that time, modern nylon one. The is some reason to suspect that it failed to function properly.

I wondr why that might be. (Grim humor)

David B. Benson said...

D = Democrat
I = In
N = Name
O = Only

micki said...

If Richard Mellon Scaife has ENDORSED Clinton it's news to me...can someone provide me with the link to his endorsement? I've been out and away from the perhaps I missed it.

Rosy Words for Clinton by ’90s Nemesis


To Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Richard Mellon Scaife qualifies as a charter member of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” having bankrolled an elaborate multimillion-dollar campaign throughout the 1990s to unearth damaging information about the couple.

But in a striking about-face, Mr. Scaife now says he has changed his mind — at least about one half of the duo.

“I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today,” he wrote in an opinion article published Sunday, amid her campaign for president. “And it’s a very favorable one indeed.”

His sudden conversion from fervid Clinton basher to lukewarm Clinton fan occurred after Mrs. Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York, sat down for a 90-minute interview with reporters and editors of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper owned by Mr. Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking fortune.

Pennsylvania will hold its Democratic primary on April 22, and the Tribune-Review, the second-largest daily newspaper in Pittsburgh, has yet to endorse a candidate. Given Mr. Scaife’s record, Mrs. Clinton could not have expected a rosy reception.

But Mr. Scaife, who attended the meeting, wrote in The Tribune-Review that the senator “exhibited an impressive command of many of today’s most pressing domestic and international issues.” Her answers, he added, “were thoughtful, well-stated and often dead on.”

His compliments left some Clinton aides and allies stunned. “I never thought I would utter these words, but I would like to shake his hands for keeping his mind open despite the predisposed prejudice toward her,” said Lanny Davis, a longtime Clinton supporter who served as President Clinton’s lawyer during the late 1990s.

At the height of his anti-Clinton days, Mr. Scaife donated $1.8 million to The American Spectator magazine for what became known as the “Arkansas Project” — an unflattering excavation of the Clintons’ personal lives in Arkansas.

His objective was to publicize, if not eventually validate, accusations about the supposed involvement of the Clintons in corrupt land deals and Mr. Clinton’s extramarital affairs, among other things.

But once Mrs. Clinton began running for president, Mr. Scaife — and his thick checkbook — remained on the sidelines, surprising many who predicted he would leap at the chance to dredge up new, potentially scandalous information about her.

That apparent indifference seems to have morphed into tepid enthusiasm for her.

During the meeting at The Tribune-Review, Mr. Scaife said in his article, he found common ground with Mrs. Clinton on the need to pull troops out of Iraq; on the bumbling federal efforts to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; and on the “increasing instability in Pakistan and South America.”

Aides to Mrs. Clinton said they had not known what to expect from the March 24 meeting with Mr. Scaife and the staff of his newspaper. But sitting next to Mr. Scaife, Mrs. Clinton quickly broke the ice, remarking that she had agreed to the meeting because “it was so counterintuitive, I just thought it would be fun to do.” The line drew laughter from those in the room.

There is, of course, a healthy dose of skepticism over Mr. Scaife’s motives. Some wonder if he is rooting for the candidate whom some Republicans view as easier to defeat in the general election.

“I wouldn’t trust Scaife’s motives in this,” said Robert M. Shrum, a longtime Democratic consultant who is not aligned with any campaign this year.

Mr. Scaife could not be reached for comment Sunday. Asked about Mr. Scaife’s article, Kathleen Strand, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton, said, “As she showed in New York and as a senator, Hillary Clinton is in the solutions business and has demonstrated the ability to bridge old divides and get things done. Winning over Mr. Scaife is just another example.”

Mr. Scaife wrote that he was not ready to endorse Mrs. Clinton over Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in the Pennsylvania primary. Mr. Obama, he noted, has yet to meet with the Tribune-Review staff.

Word of the meeting came as the Clinton campaign continued to insist that the senator would stay in the race, despite Mr. Obama’s lead in delegates. On Sunday, one of her top backers, Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, said he would “love” to see Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton on a ticket together.

Michael Cooper contributed reporting.

micki said...

Oh, hello Alan!

micki said...

What I can't figure out is why Obama's supporters have to (almost) always express their support for him by also expressing their hatred for Hillary Clinton in the same breath.

I think he will be the Dem candidate -- and that's fine with me. In fact, I really hope HIllary doesn't get the nomination, though I want her to stay in 'til the last minute because it'll make him a stronger candidate. (Yes, I believe that.)

The minute she's out of the picture, then the really, really messy fights will begin.

micki said...

Also, the general electorate are not going to be interested in a discussion of racial disparity and other racial issues...they are going to be interested in a roof over their heads, food on the table, and a living wage job.

David B. Benson said...

We don't want The World Bank either:

The World Bank's Climate Profiteering

David B. Benson said...

Is the well-being of children an election issue?

Report Finds Big Disparities in Well-Being of U.S. Kids

Carey said...

No Micki, you're right, the general public pretty much resents having to discuss race. Absolutely. Polls have shown Obama's speech didn't have much effect on the negative impact of Wright's words for people in Indiana.

We'll be forced into those discussions by Rove and others, like Scaife.

Yes, by now, you've read about his endorsement. It did come as kind of a surprise, now that I think about it. But, with Hillary, with the Clintons, one never knows.

Thank you Den. Did anyone see David Corn's post on Petraeus? His posts have been interesting of late. Oh gosh, Den, I've been meaning to tell you so have yours!

From yesterday, good luck, David, on your endeavor.


Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't know what DINO meant either, but I assumed it meant something similar to a DLCer. Apparenty it does.

Hajji said...

Shrillery tells Richardson: "He can't win, Bill

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former President Bill Clinton are making very direct arguments to Democratic superdelegates, starkly insisting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., cannot win a general election against presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Sources with direct knowledge of the conversation between Sen. Clinton and Governer Bill Richardson, D-N.M., prior to the Governor's endorsement of Obama say she told him flatly, "He cannot win, Bill. He cannot win."


I'm thinkin' cuzin' Tim...uhm Tytandanmar, that is...was dead on when he predicted that the Clintons would take down the party rather than see the Hildebeast lose the nomination fairly or otherwise.

"He just CAN't win!"....

Maybe she KNOWS he can't because she KNOWS how the 'lections are rigged and she's playing right along.

Well, I guess if you're cuddling up to people who spent millions trying to bring down the president AND the party AND your fucking FAMILY only to usher in the darkest 8 years of worldwide American erosion, you gotta KNOW something, right?


Maybe the Orkin man can refer you to an arborist.


Hajji said... new meaning to "Bough Movement!"

Hajji said...


Thanks for posting Howard Zinn.

Maybe someday, his "People's History" will be required reading to try and explain how such promise that the American experiment held was flushed down the drain for a few sheckles.


Hajji said...


Didn't get your e-mail...I'll try to cut 'n paste the file myself.



Hajji said...


It downloaded just fine tonight...must've been my connection the other day.

Thanx anyway...


thicker skin than yours said...


micki said...

I am looking forward to Obama proving his stuff.

So far, as with most politicians, his promises have been phrased in the conditional.

But, that has not been noticed by most.

Alan said...

Oh, hello Alan!

*tips hat*
Hello right backatcha.

You're spinning again. What her aides say holds no water with me, especially since it WAS ALREADY documented that they had a pre-arranged deal. No bravery, no guts in that. "Cuddle" was a good description (thanks Hajji!). Do I have to say it again? Ehh, something about will say anything it takes...

Oh and Micki, I watched a hella UFC fight card tonight. So's ya know, it's called an Octagon by most, instead of a cage.

*looks down*
Nope, I think the boys are still the same size. LOL

Alan said...

Oh oh! There's a WEC fight card on a dif channel. I'll check the boyz occasionally to make sure they don't shrink tho.

DEN said...

Listen everybody, feel the pulse, the pulse of people anxious to elect some one with dignity and integrity.

Obama represents that ideal, black or white, it does not matter, the ideal lives in peoples minds.

He has risen above the taunting's of that vixen before, I suspect he will again and handle it.

I do not need to beat ol'e hill down to raise Obama, she does that pretty good all by herself.


Alan said...

*what he said

Alan said...

haha look at this picture...