I’ve been trying for several days now to come to grips with how to write my thoughts and feelings about the program “The People Speak” that aired this last Sunday night on the History Channel. I’m not sure how to clearly transmit this, and there’s every chance I will fail the “clearly” part. Sometimes, you just have to put it down.
The program was introduced and narrated by Howard Zinn. My first brush with Zinn was when watching the movie “Good Will Hunting” and Matt Damons character makes reference that if you want to read a more real side of American History, read Howard Zinns’ “A Peoples History of the United States”. It wasn’t long after that my son gave me just that book.
The materials for “The People Speak” simply come from letters, petitions, poems, speeches, and songs from “women and slaves, immigrants and youth, soldiers and students.” Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Kerry Washington, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover, Marisa Tomei, and many others simply got on stage and read the powerful words of Lincoln, Mark Twain, John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, César Chávez, Malcolm X, and many, many others that took part in shaping our country.
The program reminds us that change doesn’t come from the top, but rather from the bottom, and that no president, congress, or government ever solved a problem or righted an injustice until prodded into action by protest. That change never comes gently.
It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to see that the producers of the show could have balanced them with the words of others that contributed in different ways to the shaping of our country. But the day after the program aired, as you might have guessed, there were those in the media making the argument that by choosing the words of those they did, Zinn and all the others were in fact attacking the pro-American, pro-patriotism, pro-capitolism, christian views of all good Americans. That Zinn is a Marxist, liberal history revisionist.
I’m not here to defend not to attack him, in fact, this may be the crux of what I’m having difficulty with. It seems that there are so many people today who are NOT really listening to what others are saying. It seems to me they’re just attacking those that are saying it. I don’t know Mr. Zinn from the man in the moon, but having read his book and watching the 2 hour program that aired Sunday night, I feel a better person for having read and listened.
My small point, we may all do well to take a moment, and just listen, without judging, what someone else it trying to say.
And for heaven’s sake…..have fun…..Fred