Zinn Education Project: Howard Zinn Talks to Social Studies Teachers

Subject: Academics and Activism/Patriotism
Themes: Young Activists Education 20th Century
Age groups: Middle School High School Homeschooling
Resource type: Websites

Howard Zinn gave a keynote speech to more than 800 teachers at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Houston on November 16, 2008.

See the whole talk, a partial transcript, and links to other resources here, on the Zinn Education Project´s Website.

Here´s a an excerpt from the speach.

"Patriotism requires a distinction between government and country, that's what the Declaration of Independence was all about. The Declaration of Independence, which isn't taught very well, I must say. On the fourth of July you'll see newspapers printing the whole Declaration of Independence, but it seems meaningless because they don't really catch the philosophy of the declaration because the philosophy of the declaration is expressed in the idea that governments are artificial creations.

They're set up by the people to ensure certain rights, an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, according to the declaration, when governments become destructive of these rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government. There's the government and there's the people. There's the government and there's the country.

Patriotism does not mean support of government. Patriotism means support of the principles of the government it's supposed to stand for. And when the government violates those principles, well, you might say the government is being unpatriotic."