The most popular American textbook on our national history is A Peoples History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Zinn, driven by ideological fervor, creates the impression the U.S. is a colonialist power driven by an expansionist impulse and relying on racist instincts.
This view of the U.S., captured in the film “Good Will Hunting,” is embraced by many on the left who assume America’s exceptionalism is driven by a belief in domination and exploitation.
While there are warts in our national past that should be revealed and discussed, there is another America of genuine exceptionalism that includes accomplishment and principles to be emulated. There is an enlightened “city on the hill” that gave the world a taste of liberty, individual rights, the free market and a defense of private property. That America resides in the soul of the nation with manifestations in grass roots movements and public displays of patriotic sentiment.
While the left that Howard Zinn has energized wants to tear down the national edifice, there are acolytes of exceptionalism who see the history of this great nation differently. That is the fault line in our politics with resolution determining the future of the United States.
As I see it, the time has come to deconstruct the omissions, manipulation and outright lies that are found in Zinn’s work. This would be a modest beginning to redress his pernicious attempt to undermine the nations principles.
Herb London is the President Emeritus of the Hudson Institute.