Why America’s Youth Have Such a Distorted View of America

A conversation with Professor Mary Grabar
April 15, 2020 Updated: April 15, 2020

What would you think if someone told you that the most popular textbook students in high schools and colleges in communist China rely upon for learning the history of their country was written by an ardent anti-communist who portrays Mao Zedong as a maniacal mass murderer and viciously demeans communism and its heroes while celebrating capitalism and the history and values of the United States?

No way would you believe such a thing—it’s absurd.

What should be every bit as unbelievable, every bit as absurd—but unfortunately happens to be true—is that the most popular American history textbook in American schools portrays our country as an evil, racist nation bent on suppressing our own people and subjugating other lands to our domination.

More an indoctrination manual than a history textbook, “A People’s History of the United States,” released in 1980, has sold more than 2.5 million copies. No other work matches its influence on how today’s youth view America or on how our heroes, traditions, and values that were for so long cherished have in recent years become demonized.

It’s a shoddy screed by a phony and a fraud, a radical Marxist anarchist icon of the Hate America Left named Howard Zinn

Leftist so-called educators anxious to brainwash young Americans into accepting their extremist fringe views have for years aggressively promoted Zinn as a must-read definitive expert on American history who corrects what all the renowned historians got wrong. 

It’s shocking how astonishingly effective Zinn and the left have been in brainwashing our youth and so many of their teachers into believing that some of America’s greatest heroes are villains and that some of the world’s worst villains are heroes. Yet few among us have heard of Howard Zinn and how for the past four decades his propaganda masquerading as history has been poisoning the minds of America’s youth.

At last we have a wake-up call blasting through our far-too-long dozing in silent acquiescence. The alarm that anyone who cares greatly about America and its youth needs to heed is this stunning exposé of a book—“Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America” by Professor Mary Grabar.

book by mary grabar on howard zinn
Mary Grabar’s book “Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.” (Regnery)

This is a truly important book in which the left’s ploy to turn America’s history lesson classrooms into reeducation camps is brilliantly explained and documented—and devastatingly rebutted.

Grabar, a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in Clinton, New York, has a Doctorate in English from the University of Georgia. She has taught at several colleges and universities, most recently Emory University. She is a published poet and short story author; has written scholarly articles for prestigious academic journals; contributed to important book collections; and is a frequent contributor to leading conservative outlets. She founded and directs the nonprofit education reform initiative, Dissident Prof Education Project. She came to America as a child when her parents fled Slovenia, then part of communist Yugoslavia. 

Here’s a conversation I recently had with her.

Ambassador Eckert: The theme of your book is that in telling America’s history, Howard Zinn doesn’t tell history, he tells lies. Can you cite any prominent historian who shares your very low opinion of Zinn’s intellectual honesty?

Mary Grabar: Peter Coclanis, distinguished professor of history and director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, calls Zinn’s book “an execrable work of pseudohistory, full of mistakes, lies, half-truths and smears.” Harvey Klehr, professor emeritus of politics and history at Emory University, says Zinn’s textbook is characterized by “lies, plagiarism, violation of academic standards and simple-minded platitudes.” There are plenty more.

Amb. Eckert: Two such prominent historians labeling Zinn a liar makes your case. Professor Klehr refers to Zinn plagiarizing, one of the worst sins any writer can be found guilty of, and you say Zinn plagiarizes blatantly. Your evidence? 

Ms. Grabar: Read the first five-and-a-half pages of Zinn’s book and compare his smears of Christopher Columbus with the only slightly altered passages from “Columbus: His Enterprise” published four years earlier by his America-hating friend and colleague Hans Koning. Interesting, isn’t it, that Koning’s Columbus smear was near universally panned while Zinn’s plagiarizing of it is so often—and so wrongly—hailed as groundbreaking historical revelation?

Amb. Eckert: You’ve accused Zinn of “selective quotation of sources to make them say the exact opposite of what their authors intended.” For example?

Ms. Grabar: In the very first paragraph of his book, Zinn quotes this about the Indians from Christopher Columbus’s journal: “They would make fine servants. . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them and make them do whatever we want.” Zinn purposely upends the truth by omitting pages of Columbus’s journal containing abundant evidence completely opposite the false impression Zinn calculatingly creates.

Amb. Eckert: And the truth is?

Ms. Grabar: Columbus had learned that scars visible on these Indians were caused by a hostile tribe, and he was speculating that that tribe viewed this gentler tribe as making “fine servants,” not suggesting, as Zinn implies, that this was how Columbus viewed them. Columbus was a very devout Catholic who hoped to convert them to Christianity “more by love than by force” and ordered his men to treat the Indians with kindness. The way Zinn deliberately smears Columbus is but one of many examples of lying to advance his anti-American agenda, same way he smears America with his claim that we were in Vietnam for imperialistic purposes is proven with quotations from official U.S. documents when the truth is that he cuts off quotations that show that the concern was about communist imperialism.

Amb. Eckert: Do you think labeling an American citizen anti-American is extreme?

Ms. Grabar: No, I think any American who’s anti-American is an extremist.

Amb. Eckert: And an example of Howard Zinn’s anti-American view is?

Ms. Grabar: Consider how he frames our founding as a free and independent country: “Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from the favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.”

Amb. Eckert: So students who depend upon Zinn’s textbook are “taught” that the real story of why America became a country was so we could steal “land, profits and political power” from the British?

Ms. Grabar: Exactly. Far-left ideology trumps truth. Forget about any self-evident truths being foundational. Nor does the Zinn-indoctrinated student learn that what was truly revolutionary about the founding of the American Republic is its underpinning belief that not only are we endowed by God with certain inalienable rights, but our government is by the consent of the governed. 

Amb. Eckert: Was Howard Zinn a communist? 

Ms. Grabar: Historian Ronald Radosh investigated Zinn’s FBI file and concluded Zinn was a communist. Zinn is an apologist for such mass-murdering tyrants as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. He smears such truly greats as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. He blames America more than Japan for Pearl Harbor. He suggests racism motivated our going to war against Japan. He insinuates America was as bad as Nazi Germany. He suggests we were involved in World War II to make America richer. It’d take a book to cover all of Howard Zinn’s lies about America. So I wrote one.

Amb. Eckert: What can people do to help bring a halt to this Zinn-driven anti-American brainwashing of our youth? 

Ms. Grabar: We should do what Dr. Albert E. Manley, the first black president of Atlanta’s Spelman College, did when he had enough of Zinn’s efforts to radicalize students—fire him. We need to quit letting the lunatic left get away with poisoning young student’s minds with vicious anti-American propaganda and claiming it’s history. Parents should check to see if Zinn’s lies are being foisted upon their children and, if so, demand that his fake history be replaced by honest history. Exercise your right to see if your school board is wasting taxpayer money on indoctrinating young people into despising our great country. 

Amb. Eckert: What’s next for you?

Ms. Grabar: Once we get past this horrific pandemic that the Chinese Communist Party has inflicted upon the world, aided and abetted by their kowtowing cheering squad at the U.N. World Health Organization, I’ll get back to traveling around the country and speaking about the damage inflicted upon America, especially our youth, by Howard Zinn. And I’ll be finishing a biography of the esteemed black conservative journalist and fiction writer George S. Schuyler. 

Fred J. Eckert is a former member of Congress and twice served as a U.S. ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, who called him “a good friend and valued adviser … one of a kind … a man of great experience and wisdom,” and declared, “He has a quality that is all too rare in the political world: He has political courage. I know, for I have been a personal witness to that courage.”