February 8, 2010
We at the Colombia Support Network were very saddened by the news a few days ago that Howard Zinn had passed away. He was for many years a member of our advisory council and provided us with good counsel and support. One of our country’s great historians, he focused attention on the common man. His path-breaking book A People’s History of the United States directed attention to the importance of common people and social movements, in helpful contrast to the typical history told in terms of the role and influence of the “great man”. While so many historians concentrate on political leaders in explaining historical developments, Howard saw that everyday people and social movements contributed importantly to change.
He also spoke out against war as a means of achieving justice. In a marvelous speech at the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Progressive Magazine in Madison on May 3, 2009, a number of us were privileged to hear his compelling statement against war. He observed that “a just cause does not make a just war”. Referring to what he characterized as “Three Holy Wars” in U.S. history— the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II— he suggested that these wars, in the latter of which he served as a member of the Air Force involved in bombing runs, were “idealized” by those who did not measure the human cost of these conflicts, which when considered could not make them “just”. Since our organization focuses upon community organizations in peaceful resistance to the status quo in rural Colombia, and we and they oppose war as a means to change, we are especially appreciative of his perspective.
A couple of years ago we asked Howard to write a letter of support for our annual fund-raising efforts. He gracefully agreed and the letter he wrote on our behalf produced a tremendous response from our members and others who read it. We are very grateful for his encouragement and support. We will miss him greatly. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621