Conservatives are blaming Howard Zinn for “birthing” the "Anti-Columbus Crusade”

Historians in the News
tags: Howard Zinn, Christopher Columbus



Jarrett Stepman is an editor for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Jarrett.

… Sadly, much of the modern hostility to Columbus can be traced to the work of a far-left historian, Howard Zinn, whose book, “A People’s History of the United States,” has left an oversized mark on American K-12 and college students.

However, Zinn claimed to turn the pro-Columbus narrative on its head, writing that Columbus was essentially a genocidal monster who paved the way for greedy, profit-seeking capitalists from the Old World to destroy and pillage the peaceful indigenous people of the New World.

“Behind the English invasion of North America,” Zinn wrote, “behind their massacre of Indians, their deception, their brutality, was that special powerful drive born in civilizations based on private profit.”

One doesn’t have to embrace all of the Italian explorer’s actions to appreciate what he accomplished and how it transformed the world for good.

Historians have certainly pushed back on Zinn’s caricature.

Professor Carol Delaney of Stanford University has criticized Zinn’s history and defended Columbus as devoutly religious, and not simply a man committed to pillaging and plunder.

She said:

His relations with the natives tended to be benign. He liked the natives and found them to be very intelligent … Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect. There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there.   


But Zinn goes even further.

His narrative is based on the idea that not only was Columbus a villain, but the product of his discovery was also an evil. His book follows this in maligning the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and America’s role in World War II, among numerous other individuals and events in our history.




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