In this talk recorded on March 17, 2006, Zinn provides a powerful critique of the war against Iraq and the history of U.S. empire building. He asks why the American people fall for the pretexts of war over and over again. Here is a brief excerpt:
Why would people believe not just the government but the press? I think the answer has to do with history, or the lack of it, the lack of historical perspective. Because if you don’t have any history, if you don’t know any history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, any leader can get up there and say something or any newspaper can tell you anything and you have no basis for questioning it. Any person of authority can get up there and say, “We’ve got to go to war for liberty, for democracy because we’re in danger,” and if you don’t have any history, you really don’t have any basis for questioning that.
If you knew some history—and I’m talking now about honest history. I’m not talking about the history we get in school, I’m not talking about the history which is subservient to the presidents and the Congresses and the Supreme Courts and the establishment and recounts the things they do for us all the time. No, I’m talking about a different kind of history, an honest history. If you know that history, know even some of that history, you know how often presidents have lied to the American public.
The full Howard Zinn Archive at Alternative Radio offers more than 50 talks and interviews by Howard Zinn.