This has been a source of controversy for a number of reasons, including the overcrowding and violence in youth detention facilities, the prosecution of youths as adults and the long term consequences of incarceration on the individual's chances for success in adulthood. Inthe United Nations Human Rights Committee criticized the United States for about ten judicial abuses, including the mistreatment of juvenile inmates. One study found that the "behaviors of family members and neighborhood peers appear to substantially affect the behavior and outcomes of disadvantaged youths". The SLC expects the percentage of elderly prisoners relative to the overall prison population to continue to rise.
At the mongrel dogs who teach. Fearing not that I'd become my enemy. In the in Howard Zinn saw a problem in the world, a great bias in our understanding of history, a history written by the winners--by tyrants and industrial magnates and warmongers--and so he did something about it: In the instant that I preach.
There is no pragmatism, no sense of compromise, no utilitarian notion of 'the greater good' for Zinn--if there is a flaw in an action, then that action must be condemned. He has come out as saying that war is never a solution, that since people died, the conflict of World War II is not excusable, that the cessation of the Fascist war machine was not worth the cost.
Of course, this beggars the question: Is there some better solution to the problem, is there anything else that could have been done to prevent it? Likewise, he has rejected US intervention in Korea, despite the fact that when we look at the split Koreas today--the North a wasteland of violence, malnutrition, and ignorance, the South a modern nation with a thriving economy--it is difficult to argue that, despite the deaths in that war, the intervention was not, overall, a positive.
Certainly, I am not of the camp who believes the US to be some sort of 'World Hero', that we are justified in policing the world, or in enforcing our ideals upon other nations, but neither do I buy the image Zinn paints of the US as a hand-wringing Disney villain that ruins everything it touches--the real truth of the matter is somewhere in between.
Some things which the US has done, such as our interference in Afghanistan--well on its way to becoming a modernized, self-sustaining nation in the midth Century--tearing down its government, arming its warlords, and making it the staging ground for our Cold War battles with Russia--are awful examples of selfishness forced upon the world.
The actions of our government and intelligence community there were not for the greater good, they were at the expense of the Afghans to our own benefit, and there are many such damning examples, but to focus solely on them is just as bad as ignoring them entirely. Zinn has received much credit for revealing truth, for reinvigorating our education system and our view of history, but honestly, his work was a bit late for that--already, such diverse perspectives were emerging, and while it took some time for them to trickle down to Middle Schools and the public consciousness, nothing in his book was a revelation to devoted students of history.
Even those historians who were sympathetic to minority experiences and opposed to the white-washing of history tended to condemn Zinn for cobbling together a poorly-researched work which took only those parts that were convenient to his thesis and left out all else--and beyond that, twisting and misrepresenting his sources to his own ends.
But his work is sensationalistic, and work of that sort has a way of finding its way into popular discussion, whether it is accurate or not.
His opponents can cite him of an example of 'all that is wrong with that point of view', while his supporters are attracted by the fact that his work tends to cast as the true heroes of history the uninvolved thinker, the academic who talks a great deal, attends protests, but does not get his own hands dirty, since in Zinn's approach, to interact directly with the imperfect world is to sully one's self.
It's hardly surprising that, in the modern age of 'Entertainment News', as represented by the vehement spewing of incoherent bias, figures like Zinn and Chomsky should become elevated.
In college, it's not uncommon to find folks who are devoted to all of the above--and if there's a better way than that to say "I have relatively little capacity for critical thought, but need constant confirmation of my own specialness', I don't know it.
But then, such works are liable to spark off movements--not because they are accurate or well-written, but because they flatter certain preconceptions in the person who reads or watches them--meaning that the movements they inspire are not far removed from cults, centered as they are on philosophies which do not correspond to reality.
It is truly sad that, in the end, the common state of politics can be boiled down to a question like 'Do you follow rush Limbaugh, or Kieth Olbermann? One sometimes wonders what we might achieve if we were able to think of the world in terms other than false dichotomies--but since I, unlike Zinn, am not an idealist, I shall have to accept the fact that it's simply how the human mind works, and do my best to work within that system.My President Was Black.
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