Matt Damon Brings Howard Zinn to Life

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Fourteen years ago in his breakout performance as an arrogant young genius in the movie Good Will Hunting, actor Matt Damon’s character sneered at his Boston psychiatrist for “surrounding yourself with all the wrong f**kin’ books. You wanna read a real history book, read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. That book’ll f**kin’ knock you on your ass.”

That was from a script Damon himself had written (with fellow actor Ben Affleck, with Oscar-winning rewrite assistance from famed screenwriter William Goldman). It reflected Damon’s own real-life admiration for self-proclaimed radical historian Howard Zinn, whom he is still actively promoting today, almost two years to the day after Zinn’s death.

Damon went on to co-produce a documentary entitled “The People Speak,” based on A People’s History and Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which Zinn co-edited with anti-war-on-terror socialist Anthony Arnove. Other Hollywood folk like Josh Brolin, Marisa Tomei, Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortensen, Rosario Dawson, and Kerry Washington lent their star power to it for a History Channel premiere back in 2009.

On January 31st, actor/activist Damon lent his name and voice to a live performance in Chicago called “The People Speak, Live!” Composed of songs and dramatic readings based on the actual words of, as the organizers put it, “rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from America’s past,” the show was part of an ongoing program to promote Zinn’s subversive work.

Zinn was arguably the most popular proponent of the “history from below” school of historiography, which explores past events from the perspective of everyday people as opposed to the “Great Men” theory, which actor Brolin, another Zinn devotee, calls mere “propaganda.” Zinn’s 1980 book A People’s History of the United States, one of the best-selling history books of all time thanks partly to the influence of pop culture powerhouses like Damon, Brolin, and the rock group Pearl Jam, is a litany of oppression and exploitation on the part of America’s white ruling class, a “raggedly conceived Marxist caricature” of American history, as David Horowitz calls it in his Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.

Zinn’s book is as ubiquitous in high school and university classrooms as sexual tension. His website proudly asserts that “no other radical historian has reached so many hearts and minds.” Well certainly, no other has darkened as many young hearts toward America and clouded as many young minds with utter disdain for facts and objectivity. Like his fellow academic cult figure Noam Chomsky and President Obama’s former associate and likely ghostwriter, unrepentant-terrorist-turned-radical-educator William Ayers, Zinn’s world view is powered by a relentless and hateful leftist fantasy: that the American government is and always has been racist, oppressive, warmongering, and ruthlessly exploitative, and that it must be subverted. And that subversion begins in classrooms all across America.

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  • oldtimer

    Teachers, actors, sports figures have the most influence on the young. Unfortunately it isn't for the good, just look at Harvard, and other so-called institutions of higher learning.
    Hurt them where it hurts them the most. Don't go to their movies.

  • Yeshayahu Goldfeld

    ' A People's History of the United States ' by Howard Zinn is to my mind one of the most informative and most interesting epics about the the five hundred years this great nation
    struggled by trial and by error to the present times.

    • reader

      Five hundred years? Yes, all five hundred years, and all the 57 states, and all the morons produced in government schools peddling Zinn as history. What a joke.

      • trickyblain

        It starts with Columbus.

        • reader

          Might as well started with Plato. I've browsed this peace of ….work. The man couldn't even get fatcs straight about the war he served through. Talk about delusional marxist.

          • guest

            Love the way you chose to spell "peace" perhaps you did comprehend the book on a subliminal level and it just taking some to time reach the surface.

    • mrbean

      Howard Zinn is a what we call a Marxist history revisionist who takes historical events out of context, and puts the leftist spin on them. Marxist revisionists like Zinn, use social class, the social relations of production, and economic conditions as their main world view lens, and see these as the primary catalysts for social change throughout history, as Karl Marx falsely did. One flaw of Marxist history is that its hypotheses are often not verifiable, provable and are falsifiable, since it asserts that historical figures and events were influenced by socio-economic factors which may not have been apparent at the time.

    • aspacia


  • tyyyre

    Well, another actor whose movies i now will never watch. what a smug self-satisifed little twerp. he has as much in common with regular Americans as sasquatch.

    • Abisja

      Yes Demon – sorry Damon, you might be a good actor making mil's of $. But that means nothing if your brain is contaminated. Contamination of anything , eventually leads to rot. I certainly hope your eyes will be opened before it's too late.

  • Loupdegarre

    I hated Goodwill Hunting. It was about a loudmouth, self promoting punk, played by a loud mouth, self promoting punk who both have seduced themelves into the belief that somehow they are superior because they have read a book by a loudmouth, self promoting punk who thinks he's a genius.

    • tagalog

      I always thought Good Will Hunting would have benefited from attending high school at a Christian Brothers' school. They'd have knocked some sense into him.

      • Questions

        They also probably would have sexually assaulted him. The Christian Brothers are notorious for any number of rape/assault scandals. Much as I disdain the politics of Matt Damon, who is — like or not — a naturally gifted actor, the worst of the Church is no alternative.

        • ASG

          Actually public school teachers are statisticly more likely to sexually assault a minor than the entire Catholic/Christian community.

        • tagalog

          I'm not aware of any sexual scandals involving the Christian Brothers. Perhaps you could alert me to some case.

          • Questions
          • tagalog

            Well, at least you have something to back up your claims.

            Although allegations are only accusations, not proofs. And a lot of the abuse complained is not sexual, and the Christian Brothers are known for their "laying-on of hands." That's certainly what I was talking about when I was claiming that Good Will Hunting could have lost a good deal of his wise-guy and know-it-all attitude if he'd been taught by them.

          • aspacia

            Questions, wiki is not considered a valid source.

          • Questions

            It is by most people. And there are plenty of other sources as well. In Ireland, the Christian Brothers sexual rapes and assaults are a national disgrace. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

          • trickyblain

            Didn't used to be but has gotten much more rigorous in verification of the last few years.

          • Western Canadian

            Wikipedia??? Yeah, a website so worthless that students are warned about the folly of using it. Get real.

          • Questions

            Denial won't get you anywhere. Christian Brothers are anything but Christian. You get real.

  • tagalog

    In the marketplace of ideas, freedom of speech permits anyone to put some idea up for public consumption. The flip side of the "marketplace of ideas" thesis is that people may not buy it.

    If you don't like Matt Damon and other Hollywood figures who consider themselves spokespersons for The People, your choice is not to pay any attention to what they have to say. A product that will not sell eventually stops being offered for consumption in the marketplace.

    • john lo

      the sad part is that zinn and damon's little helpers are teaching the so called critical skills at school. So do the math. I deal with young folks and college folks, and they don't know which end to start concerning how to proceed to dig out the truth…and they don't have any foundation to draw from other than social justice and race baiting mantras.

    • sinanju

      The problem here is that the works of Zinn, Chomsky and Ayers are not being sold in the free marketplace of ideas, they are placed on high school and college syllabuses and rammed down the throats and up the keisters of students. I doubt any college-trained educrat graduates these days without having been brainwashed with the works of that "distinguished professor of education" Bill Ayers, who realized thirty years ago that he could accomplish far more destruction against the USA from working with in the system.

  • theleastthreat

    I tried reading The People's History. I really tried! A book that I learned a lot from though, is A Conservative History of the American Left. It's very well done. Even if you don't agree with it's premise, good intentions gone horribly wrong, you can still appreciate the research and writing.

  • ASG

    The "teachings" of Howard Zinn have long been regarded as fodder for people who fancy themselves intellectuals. Ultimately they are the same people who can be sold on just about anything. As a career salesman, I get giddy when I encounter people like Matt Damon. Use a lot of big words and long winded explanations, and he'll buy just about anything.

    • Stephen_Brady

      He'll buy about anything, that is, except something written or produced by a conservative!

  • yaj namruf

    Compare, contrast…contemplate….decide. There I said it, compromise can be a surprise if we all get up and see the new Sun rise…Meantime, acknowledging Human Rights above subjugation from any Dogma is paramount for Free Will Expression…IMO

    • john lo

      sadly anything that smells of Carl Marx has nothing to do with human rights. compromise can go so far until they come knocking at your door because the state has to be cleanse and only drones allow. I don't know your history and life but this countries version of commies like the progressive left will be the last one surprised…because the real humanist will have been dragged of and the useful idiots…progressive left..would still be doing the social justice work until the day it is their turn to get dragged off.

  • tanstaafl

    Matt Damon is from Massachusetts. Just saying'.

  • maria

    I believe that only when we can have at least two different sources we can compare and decide what is right. I read Michael Medved "10 big lies about America" as well. It is truth we need to know. USA is a greatest country in the world with, unfortunately, more amd more deranged brainwashed people. Why those USA haters people don't want to immigrate to socialistic countries as Venesuala, Cuba, Vietnam, China, etc? I am originaly from the former USSR. We the people who experienced socialism admire this country and so happy that we had opportunity to get here. My dream all those USA haters will be deported to some socialistic country. They are crazy and don't understand that they destroy the best country of the world and their own future therefore. They never asked themselves if this country such a bad one why so many people from actually all the world aspire to get here but almost no Americans go to opposit directions? They are just G-d damn cynical hypocrites.

    • aspacia

      I wish they would leave, but legally we cannot deport our citizens.

      • john lo

        maria….this country is fat and happy and it is called immaturity…it is a psychological problem….just like Carl Marx…reading Communist Manifesto is like talking to a drug induced college philosophy student that hates all the wrongs in society and hates his father…trying to right all the wrongs with the wrong tools…. Two wrongs don't make a right Carl Marx. reading John Locke is so refreshing and corresponds so well with human nature….

  • Stephen_Brady

    Thank God that Paramount didn't use Damon in the last Star Trek movie. Damon playing James T. Kirk would have ended the series, for me …

    … of course, Damon didn't take the role probably because he was too busy saving the world. But if he would have thougt about it, he could have been Kirk, saving the universe.

  • Brujo Blanco

    It is always a thrill when I hear from a wealthy liberal that made his bucks through capitalism. In his mind when the rest of us give up our wealth he will keep his. What’s ours is his and what’s his is his too.

  • Steve Chavez


    "I admire you and many of your Hollywood friends for supporting the Occupy movement. Thank you."

    "You're welcome. This is a true revolutionary movement."

    "I was wondering since you are a 99%er, would you donate 99% of your wealth and be true to what you just said?"

    "Well ah, well ah ah ah, I ah, oh sh*t!"

    • pennswoods

      I agree. "Come the revolution" I wonder if the megga rich Hollywood liberals are ready to surrender their mansions to the poor and allow them to "occupy" their homes with one family per room with communal kitchen privilidges and use of the pool and tennis courts?

  • Ghostwriter

    I once tried to read "A People's History of the United States." I didn't get too far. It's still the same idiocy that I once heard when I was in one of my classes in community college. But to be fair,I never saw this book around when I was going to high school.

  • kblink45

    F. A. Hayek understood that historiography is the true battleground of freedom. Conservatives need to support/fund independent, primary source research. We must also abandon the progressive fallacy that history can and should be a science.

    But there is one way in which young historians ought to behave like scientists: when their theories are contradicted by fact, the theories must be modified or abandoned. If this rule is not followed, we run the risk of creating a mirror reflection of the left's fantasy.

  • Anonymous

    The fool Zinn revealed in an interview done shortly before his death that he knew Yiddish as boy, but never learned Hebrew. Of course, like a good leftist, hated Israel as well as the U.S.

    Well, Zinn, although very few people can understand this any longer, there are still some of us who do, so here is a nice expression in Yiddish JUST for you, boichik:

    Zol dir lign in keyver der eyver, un in di kishkes a lokh mit a sheyver.

    Shtokh dos in di oygn, mamzer!

  • Tim Nelson


    sorry I couldn’t resist. I had a Team America moment.

  • C. Charles

    I think the intent is missed by many. APHOTUS is not offered as an alternative history. It is offered as a counterpoint and an expansion . It is an earnest, cliff-notes, fill-in-the-gap counterweight to the infinite tons of commonly told tales of the great, largely homogenous historical actors. I am surprised by how threatening the book still is to many.

    • C. Charles Run

      No one is "threatened," you metrosexual putz. We are pissed off at the bastard's lies. Can you understand that?

    • Don Kosloff

      The existence and use of your “infinite tons” are myths.

  • clarespark

    Howard Zinn's synthesis for Amerikkkan history is shared by thousands of academics. And scholars of color continue to promote the same line: I wrote about that here:…. The alternative line? The eighteenth century witnessed a popular revolution that changed the world, but its chief precepts regarding popular sovereignty were undermined by patricians who feared the consequences of lower class literacy, especially after 1917.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Damon too, seems to have an affinity for the Occupiers’ social revolution. He read the following in his Chicago performance, to rousing cheers from the audience: 'You’re saying our problem is civil disobedience? That is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.'

    Yes Matthew, the answer is anarchy until the new world order of "socialism" rises to bring Utopia to all of us who can accept it.

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