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How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Gypsy & Willy

No. 421

A People's History of the United States

March 14, 2005

The title of the column this week is a book by Howard Zinn. It is a national bestseller and is used in many college history courses. Why are we including this in our series on revolution? We think reading it will give you a good idea of why revolution is so necessary, even in the Land of the Free.

History is usually taught in this country as a "explanation" of how "America became the greatest country the world has ever seen." In fact, this may very well be true, but then it really speaks poorly of the current state of affairs on planet Earth.

One need only read Howard Zinn's book to understand just how pervasive American treachery and deceit has been over the centuries. Written from the point of view of the oppressed; slaves, women, industrial workers, Latinos, various other immigrant groups at different times not to mention the people of other nations, the history of the U.S. doesn't look quite as glorious.

Zinn is an historian, not a propagandist, although he does have...and clearly expresses...his own point of view. Thus, the book is a hard read. It is heavily documented. Given the enormity of the atrocities he is documenting, it is very understated. But, reading it is nevertheless a worthwhile task to undertake. You will come away from it with a clear understanding of why so many dissidents have risked...and sometimes sacrificed...their lives in order to get at least a piece of the American Dream for the people with whom they identify.

We won't rehash most of the facts presented in this text. The book will speak for itself. But we want to pass on a few. Our Founding Fathers...and they WERE all men...penned a lot of wonderful sentiments. They talked of government by, for and of the people, while they in fact were part of a privileged power elite, who ALL owned slaves and instituted a powerful central government to protect those very privileges, including slavery. But then, Karl Marx also said some wonderful things in his critique of Capitalism, and look where that led.

Once there were Native Americans. Then they were...mostly...gone. What happened to them is a gruesome story, but now they are invisible. Once there were slaves. Then they were freed and now they too are invisible. Irish, Italian and Latino immigrants all took their turn in the barrel as well. If they are visible today, it is only through stereotypes and mostly denigrating or humorous stories. American misleaders have gradually made the promises of our constitution available to "all." But, like the misleaders of so-called communist countries, this has, as often as not, meant that we all get to suffer equally. We get to die together in ill conceived wars. We get to be thrust into poverty by disease and old age.

Meanwhile the wealth and power of the privileged classes continues to grow. Some of them are now Black, some are women, many are Irish or Italian or Latino. Some are even Indians. But the truth remains. They get the gravy, we get the scraps.

So we leave you with a portion of a poem by Shelly, qouted by Zinn at the end of his book.

Rise Like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you...
Ye are many; they are few!

Talk to you later...

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To contact Willy or Gypsy and comment on what they have written...or anything else...write to willy@dreamagic.com or gypsy@dreamagic.com.

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