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(en) US, Howard Zinn High School Speech Raises Ire

From Clore Daniel C <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Wed, 21 Nov 2001 05:15:20 -0500 (EST)


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Published on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 in the Boston Herald 

High School Speech by Peace Prof Raises Ire

by Ed Hayward
                
School officials are being asked to justify a recent speech given
by peace activist  Zinn at Newton North High School in
which he equated the U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan with
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

The controversial historian and former Boston University
professor stressed that the U.S. bombing raids aimed at toppling
the Taliban and hunting down fugitive terror boss Osama bin Laden
were killing children and innocent civilians. 

``The terrorists of Sept. 11 did a horrible thing to us, so we do
terrible things to the people of Afghanistan. That is immoral and
puts us on the same level as a terrorist,'' Zinn was quoted as
saying in a report in the school newspaper. 

Parents questioned exposing young teens to Zinn's opinions. 

``It's unbelievable what this guy did,'' said Tom Mountain, a
parent of three Newton students who are not yet in high school.
``It's horrifying. He told these things to an entire school
audience of kids 13 to 17 who don't know any better.'' 

Mountain said he has disagreed with Zinn for more than 20 years,
dating back to the 1980s when Mountain was a student at Brandeis
University rallying in support of Israel. Zinn was out of town
and could not be reached for comment, according to his wife. 

Jim Marini, Newton's associate superintendent for secondary
schools, agreed that Zinn's views are ``radically different''
than those of most Americans and U.S. political leaders. Still,
he defended the campus-run speakers program and said he had not
received any complaints from parents. 

``I think the schools bring in speakers who are not always
non-controversial,'' said Marini. ``That's what happens in the
schools. That's what happened in this case. That's part of what,
I suppose, education is all about.'' 

Officials at Newton North could not be reached for comment. A
message for Newton Mayor David Cohen, who sits on the School
Committee, was not returned. 

The school paper, Newtonite, said the speech was sponsored by the
school's Human Rights Board as the first in a series of forums
after Sept. 11. 

In a ``packed Lesker Auditorium'' Zinn questioned the
effectiveness of the bombing campaign. 

``What happens if we do capture Osama bin Laden? Will we be safe
then?'' he asked. 

``The death of 6,000 New Yorkers is very real to us,'' the paper
quoted Zinn. ``The death of thousands of Iraqi children is not.
Until the death of children in other countries is as real to us
as the death of our children, we will continue to have a real
problem.'' 

Zinn warned the students that war ultimately curbs civil
liberties in America. 

``In a war situation there is always an attempt to suppress free
speech,'' the school paper quoted Zinn. ``People who disagree
with the war are looked at as unpatriotic, but in a democracy you
must think for yourself about what is right and wrong and speak
your mind.'' 

--



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