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Former Governor, Now Purdue President, Wanted Howard Zinn Banned in Schools

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who more or less appointed the Board of Trustees that ultimately decided to hire him on as the President of Purdue University in January, is facing a new round of scrutiny for some heavy-handed moves he underwent as governor to remove ideas he didn’t like from school classrooms. According to a series of documents obtained by an Associated Press Freedom of Information Act request, Daniels also tried to use his position as governor to punish his enemies, including a professor at a local university. At the center of the story, however, is Daniels’ special hatred for historian Howard Zinn.

Zinn, in case you’re not familiar, was the author of A People’s History of the United States, a book he described to the New York Times as a “history from the perspective of the slaughtered and mutilated.” It was, and still is, a controversial book, both as a work of history and as a work embodying a particular kind of radical approach to confronting injustice. But it’s a bestseller, hugely influential, and still used often in the classroom. Zinn died in 2010, while Daniels was in office. According to the Associated Press, here’s how Daniels marked his passing in an email:

This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away…The obits and commentaries mentioned his book, ‘A People’s History of the United States,’ is the ‘textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.’ It is 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 more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?

The former governor is the subject of criticism from many faculty, staffers, and alums of the college, both because of his conservative politics and because of his lack of academic credentials, given Purdue’s status as a major, science-focused research center.

How America Can Rise Again

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Is America going to hell? After a year of economic calamity that many fear has sent us into irreversible decline, the author finds reassurance in the peculiarly American cycle of crisis and renewal, and in the continuing strength of the forces that have made the country great: our university system, our receptiveness to immigration, our culture of innovation. In most significant ways, the U.S. remains the envy of the world. But here’s the alarming problem: our governing system is old and broken and dysfunctional. Fixing it—without resorting to a constitutional convention or a coup—is the key to securing the nation’s future.

Read James Fallows’ piece

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