Banning Howard Zinn’s Books Is Hardly a Way to “Start a Conversation”

On March 2, 2017, the Arkansas Times revealed that Republican State Rep. Kim Hendren had introduced a bill intended to outlaw the teaching of “books or any other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn” in Arkansas public schools. Zinn, a historian who passed away in 2010, is best known for his work, A People’s History of the United States, which tells the American narrative from the perspective of the historically downtrodden, those swept under the rug in the myth of “American exceptionalism.”

It is understandable, then, why a politician like Hendren would desire to limit student access to Zinn’s work in Arkansas schools. The historian’s ideas are, after all, intended to challenge precisely the orthodoxies that the Republican Party (in particular) wants to maintain.