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Dr. Howard Zinn: Movie Review


After gleaning most documentaries and books, it is hard to come across a hard-hitting political ideologist like Howard Zinn. In the political landscape, most of the players are filled with rhetoric and personal jabs that leave little on the table for the average American. However, after watching this documentary, it is evident that Zinn carries an inner drive to challenge American imperialistic ideals. However, although Zinn has a deep-seated focus on what he would like to see in the American society, he fails to offer a tangible approach in transforming American politics.

The documentary provides insights into Zinn’s upbringing, his work life, his military adventures all which lead him to take a radical departure from the America approach to global issues. For instance, his political perspectives augur well with the Civil Right Movements of the 1960s. Zinn argues against oppression, he opposes the war in Vietnam and pours cold water of the Iraq war that continues to haunt the American society.

Zinn looks at the inequalities that exist in America. Subconsciously, I wonder if Zinn was spurring people to continue fighting for their rightful place in society. The gap between the rich continues to grow while America uses a lot of resources to fight enemies, real and imaginary. Each generation has its own social and economic problems to deal with at any given time. However, the issue of social justice transcend all regimes. It would have been better if American leaders took concerted efforts to confront social injustices that are prevalent across America. Although he came from a poor family, he rose up in social rank through zeal and personal effort (Ellis & Mueler, 2004). If Zinn was offering a passive advise for each person to keep up fighting the good fight that is something for each person to decide.

However, despite the good ideas put forth by Zinn, there is no tangible evidence on how the transformation he so much advocates can be realized. Politicians and social activities offer their own ways of bringing change to societies, although most of them are pipe dreams of efforts to woo voters. For Zinn, he should at least have proposed a mechanism of dealing with the imperialism that drives the American society. Indeed, this failure is well captured in one of the heroines, Emma Goldman. In essence, the moral drive is not sufficient to correct the evils that have become embedded with the American ideologies.

Despite the shortcomings of the movie, I find the documentary quite positive in many aspects. It is indeed worthy watching and probably people can start to see things like Zinn.

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