WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The works of liberal historian Howard Zinn
were honored Tuesday at Purdue University, whose president denounced
Zinn's work as "truly execrable" while serving as governor.
More than 100 people gathered for a "read-in" to celebrate the works by
Zinn and other controversial authors. Speakers included "Lies My Teacher
Told Me" author James Loewen and Anthony Arnove, who co-edited with Zinn
"A People's History of the United States," the Journal & Courier reported.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels drew fire over the summer when The
Associated Press reported that as governor, Daniels had sought assurances
that Zinn's work wasn't being used in Indiana K-12 classrooms or counted
toward continuing education credit for teachers.
In a Feb. 9, 2010 email to staff, Daniels called Zinn's 1980 history book
"a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates
American history on every page."
Zinn's book addresses American history from the viewpoint of those whose
plights he said were often omitted from most history textbooks. It has
been criticized by many conservatives and scholars and characterized by
historian Eugene D. Genovese as "incoherent left-wing sloganizing."
Those gathered Tuesday had different views.
Arnove said Zinn's work inspired millions of people to think about history
in a different way.
"That ultimately is what is dangerous to people like Mitch Daniels,"
Arnove said. "The idea of people thinking for themselves, the idea of
people learning that history is contested, the idea of people learning
examples of people coming together, organizing and advocating for change
that in their own moment seemed impossible but actually offset and
overturned systems of power, systems that seemed immovable. That's a very
Loewen urged the Purdue community to hold Daniels accountable and continue
to stand up for academic freedom.
"The first thing you should do is you should be asking him to of course
fund and attend evenings like this," Loewen said.
"I think Howard Zinn was a patriot. I think Mitch Daniels is a
nationalist. I think we need to convert him to being a patriot."
Daniels did not attend the event, but a spokeswoman said all views were
welcome on campus.
Purdue history professor Susan Curtis announced that more than $8,000 has
been pledged to a Howard Zinn Memorial Research Award at Purdue. The fund
will support graduate students whose research focuses on dissenters and
"This is the kind of research award we want to support," Curtis said.