I have a proposition for you. I am a (reasonably) successful professional writer. Among my specialties is biography. I’ve ghostwritten dozens of biographies and histories. And even published a few under my own name. For example . . .
In other words, I know how to compellingly tell the story of a life. So, here’s my amazing offer:
I’m going to write your biography. For free.
That’s right. I’m going to tell your life story at no charge. There are just a couple of little stipulations I need you to agree to before we get started. I’m sure you won’t mind.
I’m going to exhaustively research every aspect of your life, but only write about your worst moments. The only things that will appear in the narrative will be the times you were being the very worst version of yourself. The times you were selfish. The days you were unkind or uncaring or just downright mean and vindictive. And we all have plenty of those moments in our histories, am I right?
Yes, I know even the best of us are imperfect. We’re all “works in progress” whose lives consist of a complicated mix of good and evil. And you’ve clearly done a lot good. Nevertheless, the only things that will make the pages of the book called “Your Story” will be the times you didn’t live up to what you professed to believe. The times you looked like nothing but a big, fat hypocrite.
I’m sorry, but that stuff, and only that stuff, will be what strangers and future generations will come to know about you.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this. This project will require ignoring your virtues, and you have many. It will require pretending that you’ve never helped anyone, even though you’ve done that often through the years. It will require pretending that you’ve never sacrificed yourself for others, though you frequently have.
To be honest, in spite of your flaws, you’ve been one of the most noble and honorable people I know. You’ve been responsible for a lot of good in the world. And have inspired many others to good things as well. Unfortunately, that will not be the impression that strangers take away from reading your story.
Actually, it’s worse than that. In telling your story, I’m going to attribute evil motives and sinister intentions to even your most benign and mundane actions.
I’m so sorry, but I must misrepresent not only what you’ve done but also why.
I’m not going to lie to you. The finished book will be a grotesque, lop-sided caricature of who you really are. People who really know you well will recognize this. But casual acquaintances, strangers and future generations will believe this is who you really were. So . . .
How about it? Shall we get started? No?
Well, over the last few decades, something very similar, but in some ways even worse, has befallen the United States.
Forty years ago, someone wrote a biography of the United States that is precisely like the one I just propoosed writing for you. Except this one is even less factual. This is that history:
Zinn did not write a “warts and all” history of our nation. He wrote a “warts only” version. And a maliciously dishonest one at that. First published in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected, this book has become the primary source of information for several generations of Americans.
Once this became one of the most influential and succssful history books of all time, Zinn rolled out a version for high school students.
Wikipedia informs us that: “Zinn described himself as ‘something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist.'” What his book reveals is that Zinn was, as most Marxists are, thoroughly and utterly hostile to the traditions of Western Civilization . . . particularly those rooted in Christianity.
Even before Zinn wrote his book, this fan of Mao’s nightmarish reign of terror in China (btw, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” killed 45 million in just four years) was profoundly influential on the young, flag-burning campus radicals of the late ’60s and early ’70s who drank deeply from the well of the twin theologies of Marxism and anti-Christian eastern mysticism.
And those campus radicals grew up to become the tenured college professors, news editorial board members, and film makers of the ’90s and ’00s.
As a result, Zinn’s books became required reading in the public schools and the nation’s univeristies. In recent decades, if students read only one “biography” of America, this was it. And it is 776 pages of dishonest and relentlessly negative Marxist, anti-Western propaganda.
It’s difficult to overstate the book’s influence. Countless “activists,” teachers, social workers, journalists, filmmakers, and actors have built their entire worldview on it’s distortions, misrepresentations, and carefully filtered half-truths.
Millions of those who have never read it, have nevertheless been schooled by those who absorbed and believed every word.
Thus, Zinn and his book have influenced and/or formed the basis of scores of documentaries. Its deeply flawed assumptions have informed the plots of innumerable movies and preachy television episodes.
Zinn’s book even made a cameo appearance in Ben Affleck’s and Matt Damon’s academy-award-winning 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.
As I said, all this has been going on for four decades. So, why do I mention it now?
Because I’ve heard many genuinely bewildered people wondering out loud over the last couple of weeks about where all these young Americans who despise America came from.
The answer is we produced them. We’ve been incubating them through our schools, media, and popular culture for decades. They’ve been assured all their lives by teachers, pop stars, and activist-posing-as-journalists that this flawed but extraordinary miracle of a place called America is well and truly monstrous.
For example, Howard Zinn’s ideological DNA permeates the New York Times’ twisted “1619 Project” that has animated and (mis)informed so much of the current social turbulence.
Yet for those of us who have been around a while, these current events have a very familiar look and feel.
That’s because we hatched a crop of Zinn disciples roughly 10 years ago that manifested as the “Occupy” movement. The agenda then was the same Marxist wish list as now. The downfall of capitalism; environmentalism as the official state religion; and the enshrinement of identity politics and “intersectionality” as the funhouse-mirror-lens through which all reality must be viewed.
Another twenty years prior to that earlier wave of unrest, a generation of Zinn’s children were marching with Jesse Jackson at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Culture’s got to go.”
There were prophetic voices trying to warn us back then.
Published in the very same year as that Stanford march, Professor Allan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students called all of this with chilling accuracy. None of us who read his book more than 30 years ago is remotely surprised that they’re tearing down the statues of abolitionists, emancipators, and Spanish novelists today.
Robert Bork called it, too. In 1996 he wrote Slouching Toward Gomorrah and it, too, diagnosed the disease that now ravages the culture. In it, he wrote: “Radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, omnipresent and omni-incompetent government, the politicization of the culture, and the battle for advantages through politics shatter a society into fragments of isolated individuals and angry groups.”
Today, Western culture, rooted deeply in Christian tradition, is still the enemy of those mal-educated by Zinn and his evangelists. We have the defaced and dececrated and toppled statues of numerous “dead white men” to prove it.
The public monuments of Christianity and Judaism will be next. Indeed, it’s already underway. (Wokeness is a jealous god.) And because Zinn’s bogus biography of our nation has become an article of religious faith for millions, they will feel perfectly righteous in their attacks on the churches and synagogues.
As it turns out, it matters how someone writes your story.
[Update: Here’s the antidote for Zinn poisoning.]