Monday, July 29th, 2013
In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Gabriel Schoenfeld addresses the recent controversy surrounding former governor Mitch Daniels’ criticism of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Schoenfeld argues that Zinn’s work does not meet academic standards and fundamentally misconstrues American history. “To Zinn, the dark strands of our country’s past — of which there is genuinely no shortage — became the only strands,” Schoenfeld writes, “all of them useful in telling a left-wing morality tale in which class interests always determine the development of ideas and control the course of events.”
Daniels’ emails critiquing Zinn were released earlier this month as part of a public records request from the Associated Press, and detail Daniels’ desire to eliminate Zinn’s book from professional development courses for K-12 teachers in Indiana. Daniels described Zinn’s work as “A truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before any more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Daniels has been criticized for his remarks, but Schoenfeld argues that Daniels was justified in seeking the text’s removal. “Removing it is not censorship; it is, rather, setting responsible academic standards,” Schoenfeld says.