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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Where the Outraged Liberal comes from

The passing of Howard Zinn was almost like the loss of a family member and the volume and tone of comments I have seen and read suggests that I'm not alone. Like one of the interviewees in today's Globe story I can say he truly changed my life.

As a BU political science major in the turbulent Vietnam War era, it was also more than a passing relationship. In all, I took three courses with Zinn, including a directed look at United States foreign policy after World War II. I was at BU during his celebrated clashes with John Silber.

Zinn opened my eyes to a reality you didn't learn about in high school civics classes. He was a great lecturer -- his classes were never dull. But don't let anyone tell you he wasn't a tough and demanding teacher.

Howard Zinn was responsible for the outraged part of my political persona, although as the Globe points out, rage and anger were not his things. But graduating from college and entering the real world meant I needed to add a little pragmatism to the idealism. And for that, I can thank Michael Dukakis.

His 1978 primary election loss to Edward J. King was a searing moment that suggested perfection isn't possible and an imperfect vessel is a lot better than no vessel at all. It's a lesson my fellow progressives should heed as they evaluate Barack Obama.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Readwriteblue said...

My condolences on your lose.

January 31, 2010 10:17 AM  

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