Monday, March 18, 2013

An Exchange with the President of Boston University—Learning from the Past Or Repeating It

 Living in Denial, or 
 Those Who Don’t Learn From History are Condemned to Repeat It (And to Criticize Those Who Remind Them About It)

On January 30, 2011, three days after the first anniversary of the death of Professor Howard Zinn, I wrote a letter to Robert Brown, the President of Boston University. Zinn, a professor of history at BU, and one of the most courageous, principled, and highly published scholars ever to have worked for the university, had been one of many professors in the previous decades who had been persecuted by the BU administration because his views did not agree with those of the administrators over him. Administrators had done everything they possibly could to attempt to over-ride his tenure and force him out. His salary had been frozen for decades; students had been told not to take classes with him; his colleagues had savaged him and schemed against him; his ideas had been viciously and publicly attacked by university administrators; and senior university officials had attempted to “dig up dirt” about his life to come up with grounds to fire him. During the entire time, for more than thirty years, through decade after decade of administrative savagery directed against him, Zinn had continued to comport himself with honor, dignity, and integrity. He had not slung mud back at his attackers. He had not called names back. He had quietly and diligently continued to teach his classes, mentor his students, speak out at events, and publish his books and articles. In short, throughout all of the administrative abuse and punishment, he had kept his attention on what really matters. He died on January 28, 2010.

I had written Francine Montemurro, the University Ombuds, deploring the fact that the first anniversary of Zinn’s death had come and gone, uncommemorated and unmentioned by the university. There had been no press release, no panel discussion, no mention of Zinn’s name by the university PR department. On reflection, I decided to send President Brown a copy of the note I had sent Ms. Montemurro a few days before, with my own covering note alluding to the implicit erasure of the memory of Zinn’s life and work by the university. I regretted the fact that the anniversary of his death had come and gone and the university had failed to organize a single event commemorating his immense and irreplaceable contribution to the institution’s intellectual life.

My letter to Brown, which included a copy of the letter I had already sent to Ms. Montemurro, follows. (The letters to both individuals that I sent had, as enclosures, a lengthy memorial piece about Zinn’s life and work and struggles with the university administration. I include that essay at the bottom of this page, following the texts of the letters themselves.) —R.C.

January 30, 2011

Hi Bob,

Hope you're thriving. I realize I may be carrying coals to Newcastle, but I sent something to Francine Montemurro (with whom I've recently been dealing on an institutional matter) the other day and, on reflection, decided it might be of interest to you also. So here goes. It's pretty self-explanatory. It is an important part of BU history that I assume you already know a good bit of, but I'm passing it along on the off-chance that it might add a fact or two to a story with which you are already familiar. [See the bottom of the page for the memorial piece about the life and work of Howard Zinn.]

All winter best wishes. Shoveling my driveway is keeping me from “making trouble” (as my Dean very kindly characterizes my contribution to the university)—at present!

Ray Carney

28 Jan 2011


A faculty member at another university sent this to me tonight (it's the first anniversary of Howard Zinn's death) and, thinking about who else might be interested in the history of BU and one faculty member's attempts to remain honorable in the face of pressures to lower intellectual standards, I thought I'd pass it along to you. I'm sure you've heard Zinn's name and know his affiliation with BU, but there may be something new here that you don't already know.... 
Of course, in the past few years BU has done its best to erase and forget his contribution (or, even worse, to pretend away what it did to him for more than 30 years of his career with fake positive stories about his "contributions" but not a single word about his “struggles”).

If there were more honor, the building you were initially installed in would have been called "The Howard Zinn Administrative Building" and not named after John Silber (with the absurdly comical effect of demoralizing and driving away faculty applicants to your weirdly located office—the only-at-BU-black-comedy of the Omubuds person being installed in the “Silber Suite” of the "Silber Administrative Building"!--as many faculty members joked when you first were assigned to that wing of the building!!!).

At any rate, I thought this memorial piece might be of interest... As I've given you all-too-many examples of, all too many things have not really changed since "the Zinn era," at least in the parts of the university with which I am familiar.

FYI: I'll be on campus all day tomorrow at a faculty "retreat" (aptly named, given the continuing mood of the College I am in) where every really principled faculty member I know in the higher levels of the College of Communication has already decided it is pointless to actually come out and say anything valuable--or God help us: controversial--for fear it will negatively impact his or her future pay and perquisites. So much for the real meaning of a BU "retreat!" It’s the real direction the university is moving in. Glad they are finally admitting it!

All best wishes. And stay warm!

Ray Carney, Prof. of Film and American Studies

Ms. Montemurro did not reply to my mailing. But President Brown did. My comments about Zinn and BU were not lost on him. But I must say I was surprised both by the tone he took with me and with his understanding of the university he led. He chided and upbraided me for bringing up the Zinn story, and then pretty much told me that getting rid of people who relayed problems to him was the only way to deal with them—as he put it: “For some…retirement is the only way out.” Translation: If you have a problem faculty member, it can be solved by forcing him or her to retire. (As a way of eliminating this particular “problem faculty member,” Brown’s administration had, in fact, tried to persuade me to retire only four months earlier; but what they had overlooked was that the financial punishments that had been doled out to me in the preceding decade made retiring completely impossible. After the pay freezes and hits, I couldn’t possibly afford it.) In Brown’s view, the only problems BU had were problem faculty members; there were no real problems worth discussing at BU itself. In Brown’s view, the way to deal with the injustices of the past (even if they continued into the present) was “to get over them.” The lesson of the past was to forget it. To remember it was to relegate oneself to being in the “small slice of … nostalgic faculty.”

The text of Brown’s letter to me follows:

February 3, 2011

Dear Ray,

Thank you for sending this note to me. I must say that it is disappointing that you and some of your colleagues are still anxious about engaging in discussions that are important to the future of the College. The topics raised at the retreat are critical to the future of the College because, as you know the world of media is changing rapidly and, I am afraid, to stand still in communications education is to loose ground.

Your anxieties about retaliation remind me of the old Buffalo Springfield song, Something Happening Here.  There are some people who want to conflate lack of agreement with their position on an issue with retaliation. I wish this attitude would change, but I know that human behavior does not change as quickly as I would like. For some, they will remain withdrawn and retirement is the only way out.

Howard Zinn was clearly one our most revered faculty members for several decades and has a lecture named in his honor is CAS.  I don¹t know of another faculty member from Boston University who has had this honor, at least in my time at Boston University.

Finally, I don¹t know what purpose it serves to relive the disputes between Howard and John Silber. I'll bet that it is only a small slice of our most nostalgic faculty members who think about these days, almost 30 years ago. I spend my days (and nights) trying to raise new resources and marshal the ones we have to make Boston University better.  This is the approach that is being taken by many in departments, schools and colleges across the University. I strongly recommend it over reliving an unpleasant past.



Robert A. Brown
Boston University
Office of the President
One Silber Way
Boston, MA 02215
* * *
A few days later, I wrote President Brown the following response. He didn’t reply to this letter. No surprise there. Silence has been the only response senior B.U. administrators have given my reports of professional misconduct at levels below them (while threats, bureaucratic and financial punishments, and anger have been the only responses from administrators at lower levels). The one thing that never takes place at either level is any investigation or action. Brown's "head in the sand," "see no evil" view of the BU past apparently extends into the BU present as well. —R.C.

February 9, 2011

President Robert Brown
Office of the President
Silber Administrative Building
One Silber Way
Boston, MA 02215

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my email about Boston University’s treatment of Howard Zinn and commemorating his contribution to the institution. I know how busy you are and am sincerely appreciative of the time you took to share your response with me.

However, to be completely candid, I must say that there is a significant gap between my understanding of Boston University and yours. As I reflected on your assumption that the sort of things that were done in the Zinn era by earlier administrators were things of the past, confined to the so-called “old BU,” I wondered how we could each have such a different experience of the same institution, and the more I thought about it the more I realized that you are not in the best possible position to see what actually takes place at the middle-management levels of the university, particularly insofar as the preceding three decades of top-down management have mitigated against reports from the faculty or staff reaching the highest administrative levels.

I know you are trying to change this management style and model, and I and every other faculty member at BU appreciates your efforts, but institutional culture changes very slowly. There is a lot of inertia, a lot of built-in vested interests, and no waving of magic wands or pronouncing of incantations—like the “one BU” document or a few meetings and exhortations on your part—will suddenly transform a university’s longstanding managerial style. BU struggled through a long dark night of the soul for more than three decades, and, though it pains me to say it, it may well take another decade for the university to find its way into full daylight. A lot of bad lessons were inculcated and learned that it may take a long time to unlearn.

The process of institutional change is, of course, slowed by the fact that many of the middle-level managers who made the “old BU” what it was still hold the same positions, and by the fact that many of the new hires at the middle-management level have, all too innocently and trustingly, allowed themselves to be influenced by their predecessors and other members of the “old guard” who have remained with the university (and of course many of them have been brought in by the existing “old guard” and been certified as “their kind of managers” in the first place). To look briefly only in my own backyard, the Associate Dean of the College of Communication (who was instrumental in carrying out many of former Dean John Schulz’s most reprehensible retributive actions against senior members of the College faculty and staff) is still the Associate Dean—or I should say was, until last fall, when she was promoted to Assistant Dean. The Director of the program in which I teach—another individual who worked hand-in-glove with John Schulz to execute a series of “dirty tricks” against faculty members Schulz took a dislike to—is still my program Director, and he too in recent years has received a promotion. A department Chairman notorious from the “bad old days” is still the department Chairman. And, in my department, a similar former Chairman advises and takes turns being Chair with the current new Chairman. And so on. (And, by the way, I don’t by any means intend to imply that that the continuation of bad habits, bad practices, and bad attitudes at the middle-management level is unique to the College of Communication. I and other faculty members have had a number of interactions with senior administrators at Mugar Library that have shown how little change has taken place there in terms of leaving behind bad habits and attitudes toward the faculty.)

In short, your assumption that the days of the “old BU”—what might be called the “Zinn days” in terms of the email I sent you—are dead and gone and can be safely relegated to the history books does not at all square with my own personal experiences and observations. Even limiting myself to the time you have been in office, I have watched several of the most gifted and hard-working faculty members (and a few staffers) in my College “shown the door” or forced out in one way or another simply because they dared to express views that threatened the fiefdom of a particular College administrator. But, to illustrate my point more concretely, let me cite only my own, first-hand personal experiences.

The background to what follows is that for a number of years, in many different ways, I have voiced a series of concerns about a range of ethical, procedural, and pedagogical issues in my department and College. They have ranged from concerns about procedural irregularities and ethical violations in the faculty review and promotion process; to concerns about the lowering of graduate admissions standards; to concerns about the decline in contact-hours between teachers and students (as evinced by teachers who absent themselves from their own classrooms, delegate their teaching duties to TAs, or give course credit to students for spending the majority of class time sitting in the dark watching movies and videos); to concerns about the intellectual legitimacy of the film studies graduate program course offerings (where there are no separate graduate-level film studies courses and grad students get their degrees by sitting in on undergraduate courses); etc., etc.. After voicing these and other concerns, politely and deferentially, in a variety of forums, I have received the following readily documented responses from the administrators above me:

·      had my evaluations lowered for my alleged “uncollegiality” and for “not being a team player;”
·      been verbally abused and loudly reviled by administrators in front of students in what have to be deliberate attempts to undermine my authority and status as a teacher and mentor; and have had my students told derogatory (and false) things about me by administrators to accomplish the same purpose;
·      had my media-studies classes assigned to completely unsuitable classrooms; scheduled at comically horrible meeting times (early in the morning or late at night); and at times that deliberately conflict with required courses, making it impossible for interested students to take the course with me;
·      had my morals and character publicly attacked, on numerous occasions, in orgies of verbal abuse and vituperation at department meetings, with the full encouragement and participation of the Chair;
·      had all of my previously guaranteed support for research and publication projects withdrawn (forcing me to cancel much of my research, turn down offers to speak, and decline to participate in a variety of publishing projects);
·      had my merit pay withheld and my salary frozen (it is still frozen in the current academic year);
·      been formally censured by the Department for statements about pedagogy and curricular matters I published in magazines and newspapers;
·      been told to remove all of my writing from the Boston University server.

Believe it or not, there is more; but I’ll stop there. The critical point is that this is not a story about the bad, “old BU.” All of these actions and events (and many others) took place in the past seven or eight years, and the majority of them while you were President. And these things were not done in secret; they are well-documented and well-known events. I reported most or all of them to both Dean Fiedler and Provost Campbell, and in many cases held follow-up meetings with them to discuss them. I also included detailed written descriptions of most of these events in the “Additional Information” sections of my Faculty Annual Reports for the past four or five years. Most importantly of all, these and similar events continue to take place right up to the present day, and (in terms of the pernicious effects on my research, teaching, and mentoring of students) continue to negatively impact my work even at the point I am writing this memo. These events and attitudes are not ancient history. I am describing the present.

I hope you don’t mind if I conclude on a personal note. I believe in BU; I am committed to BU; I have given much of my working life (more than 20 years of it) to BU. I want BU (and your administration) to succeed, to exceed all expectations. I want it to be great. But the events I have sketched and summarized, and even more importantly, the continuation of the attitudes that are behind these and similar events will forever keep BU from greatness. It is vitally important to the future of the university that faculty feel free to raise issues and express concerns in meetings without retributive attempts to “shoot the messenger,” either to shut them up or force them to resign. The new BU will have no more success than the old BU in recruiting and retaining the most talented and ambitious faculty and staff members if these attitudes and actions are allowed to continue. To allow that would be an irreparable loss for the future of the institution. Please believe me, Bob, when I say that you and I have the same goal—to help create and participate in the best BU that can be. But it will take work to make that happen, and some of that work requires being willing to face disturbing realities.


Ray Carney
Prof. of Film and American Studies

Author of: The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism and the Movies (Cambridge University Press); The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World (Cambridge University Press); Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer (Cambridge University Press); American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra (Cambridge University Press); American Dreaming (University of California Press at Berkeley); Shadows (British Film Institute/Macmillan); Cassavetes on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber/Farrar, Straus); The Adventure of Insecurity; Necessary Experiences; Why Art Matters; and other books, essays, and editions.

Web site: (posted on and censored and suspended at the demand of my Dean and Chairman and by vote of my department)

* * * 

To read a summary of the past decade of financial and bureaucratic punishments, pedagogical failures, violations of academic freedom, verbal harassment, threats to destroy Prof. Carney's reputation via web postings and to bankrupt him with legal actions, and a variety of other forms of administrative misconduct and academic misbehavior at Boston University, see: “A Summary—Ten Years at Boston University,” available under June 2014 in the side menu on any page.

* * *
About Howard Zinn

The text of the attachments about the life and work of Howard Zinn and Boston University’s treatment of him that I included with the first letter to Brown and the letter to Ombuds Montemurro follows. In what I sent both people, I began with the thank-you note I wrote to the faculty member at another university who originally sent me the article about Zinn. —R.C.


What a wonderful article. Thank you so much for sending it my way. It just breaks my heart the way Zinn was treated at BU. (FYI: In my exchange with Noam Chomsky a few months back, he alluded to how completely awful it was—far worse than Zinn ever said publicly—or ever complained about. The God damn Silbers of this world should burn in eternal hell.)

But Zinn was a "class act," as this memorial piece itself understands, and you can't put someone like him in the wrong, in a false position. No matter how he was treated, as this article shows, Zinn never gave back what he got from others. He gave understanding, respect, and love in the truest sense.

Thank you, John.

Ray Carney, Prof. of Film and American Studies

* * *
Editor's Note: Today, on the one-year anniversary of the death of the late Dr. Howard Zinn, his voice is deeply missed. In his essay titled LaGuardia in the Jazz Age, Zinn profiles Fiorello LaGuardia, a politician who took his work as mayor of New York and as a member of the House of Representatives seriously, putting his life and his reputation on the line for those he was elected to represent.
Who is willing to stand up for unseen and unheard people? Who is willing to move beyond playing safe politics and trying to stay out of the cross-hairs of the plutocrats?
This personal remembrance of Professor Zinn from Truthout board member Henry A. Giroux was published in the wake of Zinn’s death last year. On a day like today, as the spirit of democratic protest spreads across the Middle East, Giroux’s depiction of Zinn’s continual call to action - “resist, organize and collectively struggle” - is especially deeply felt. - Matt Renner/TO
Author's Note: We live in an age in which the self has become the center of politics and everyday life. The formative culture, public spheres and institutions capable of challenging this privative notion of survivalism and market-driven notion of barbarism are both under siege and rapidly vanishing. The public intellectual has been replaced by the anti-public intellectual, just as the university as a democratic public sphere is now colonized by corporate and national security interests. Social movements barely speak beyond a narrow identity politics, and the questions that connect agency to pedagogy and social change have been replaced by the search for consumers and clients.
In his work, Howard Zinn criticized all of these positions, while embodying a notion of agency that exhibited a fierce moral courage and a deep propensity for engaged social action. He never faltered in his attempts to connect scholarship with politics, and he never retreated into the dystopian world of indifference or cynicism. Howard has left us a legacy of work, activism and hope that even in the darkest times offers a new language for reclaiming the link between politics and democracy, agency and critical thinking, ethics and a space of social responsibility and hope. We at Truthout are committed to his legacy, vision and mode of engaged struggle, and we are thankful for the work he left us and the humble and courageous spirit he offered as a model for all of us. —Henry Giroux 
Howard Zinn, A Public Intellectual Who Mattered
In 1977 I took my first job in higher education at Boston University. One reason I went there was because Howard Zinn was teaching there at the time. As a high school teacher, Howard's book, "Vietnam: the Logic of Withdrawal," published in 1968, had a profound effect on me. Not only was it infused with a passion and sense of commitment that I admired as a high school teacher and tried to internalize as part of my own pedagogy, but it captured something about the passion, sense of commitment and respect for solidarity that came out of Howard's working-class background. It offered me a language, history and politics that allowed me to engage critically and articulate my opposition to the war that was raging at the time.
I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and rarely met or read any working-class intellectuals. After reading James Baldwin, hearing William Kunstler and Stanley Aronowitz give talks, I caught a glimpse of what it meant to occupy such a fragile, contradictory and often scorned location. But reading Howard gave me the theoretical tools to understand more clearly how the mix of biography, cultural capital and class location could be finely honed into a viable and laudable politics.
Later, as I got to know Howard personally, I was able to fill in the details about his working-class background and his intellectual development. We had grown up in similar neighborhoods, shared a similar cultural capital and we both probably learned more from the streets than we had ever learned in formal schooling. There was something about Howard's fearlessness, his courage, his willingness to risk not just his academic position, but also his life, that marked him as special - untainted by the often corrupting privileges of class entitlement.
Before I arrived in Boston to begin teaching at Boston University, Howard was a mythic figure for me and I was anxious to meet him in real life. How I first encountered him was perfectly suited to the myth. While walking to my first class, as I was nearing the university, filled with the trepidation of teaching a classroom of students, I caught my first glimpse of Howard. He was standing on a box with a bullhorn in front of the Martin Luther King memorial giving a talk calling for opposition to Silber's attempt to undermine any democratic or progressive function of the university. The image so perfectly matched my own understanding of Howard that I remember thinking to myself, this has to be the perfect introduction to such a heroic figure.
Soon afterwards, I wrote him a note and rather sheepishly asked if we could meet. He got back to me in a day; we went out to lunch soon afterwards, and a friendship developed that lasted over 30 years. While teaching at Boston University, I often accompanied Howard when he went to high schools to talk about his published work or his plays. I sat in on many of his lectures and even taught one of his graduate courses. He loved talking to students and they were equally attracted to him. His pedagogy was dynamic, directive, focused, laced with humor and always open to dialog and interpretation. He was a magnificent teacher, who shredded all notions of the classroom as a place that was as uninteresting as it was often irrelevant to larger social concerns. He urged his students not just to learn from history, but to use it as a resource to sharpen their intellectual prowess and hone their civic responsibilities.
Howard refused to separate what he taught in the university classroom, or any forum for that matter, from the most important problems and issues facing the larger society. But he never demanded that students follow his own actions; he simply provided a model of what a combination of knowledge, teaching and social commitment meant. Central to Howard's pedagogy was the belief that teaching students how to critically understand a text or any other form of knowledge was not enough. They also had to engage such knowledge as part of a broader engagement with matters of civic agency and social responsibility. How they did that was up to them, but, most importantly, they had to link what they learned to a self-reflective understanding of their own responsibility as engaged individuals and social actors.
He offered students a range of options. He wasn't interested in molding students in the manner of Pygmalion, but in giving them the widest possible set of choices and knowledge necessary for them to view what they learned as an act of freedom and empowerment. There is a certain poetry in his pedagogical style and scholarship and it is captured in his belief that one can take a position without standing still. He captured this sentiment well in a comment he made in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train." He wrote:
"From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."
In fact, Howard was under constant attack by John Silber, then president of Boston University, because of his scholarship and teaching. One expression of that attack took the form of freezing Howard's salary for years.
Howard loved watching independent and Hollywood films and he and I and Roz [Howard's wife] saw many films together while I was in Boston. I remember how we quarreled over "Last Tango in Paris." I loved the film, but he disagreed. But Howard disagreed in a way that was persuasive and instructive. He listened, stood his ground, and, if he was wrong, often said something like, "O.K., you got a point," always accompanied by that broad and wonderful smile.
What was so moving and unmistakable about Howard was his humility, his willingness to listen, his refusal of all orthodoxies and his sense of respect for others. I remember once when he was leading a faculty strike at BU in the late 1970s and I mentioned to him that too few people had shown up. He looked at me and made it very clear that what should be acknowledged is that some people did show up and that was a beginning. He rightly put me in my place that day - a lesson I never forgot.
Howard was no soppy optimist, but someone who believed that human beings, in the face of injustice and with the necessary knowledge, were willing to resist, organize and collectively struggle. Howard led the committee organized to fight my firing by Silber. We lost that battle, but Howard was a source of deep comfort and friendship for me during a time when I had given up hope. I later learned that Silber, the notorious right-wing enemy of Howard and anyone else on the left, had included me on a top-ten list of blacklisted academics at BU. Hearing that I shared that list with Howard was a proud moment for me. But Howard occupied a special place in Silber's list of enemies, and he once falsely accused Howard of arson, a charge he was later forced to retract once the charge was leaked to the press.
Howard was one of the few intellectuals I have met who took education seriously. He embraced it as both necessary for creating an informed citizenry and because he rightly felt it was crucial to the very nature of politics and human dignity. He was a deeply committed scholar and intellectual for whom the line between politics and life, teaching and civic commitment collapsed into each other.
Howard never allowed himself to be seduced either by threats, the seductions of fame or the need to tone down his position for the standard bearers of the new illiteracy that now populates the mainstream media. As an intellectual for the public, he was a model of dignity, engagement and civic commitment. He believed that addressing human suffering and social issues mattered, and he never flinched from that belief. His commitment to justice and the voices of those expunged from the official narratives of power are evident in such works as his monumental and best-known book, "A People's History of the United States," but it was also evident in many of his other works, talks, interviews and the wide scope of public interventions that marked his long and productive life. Howard provided a model of what it meant to be an engaged scholar, who was deeply committed to sustaining public values and a civic life in ways that linked theory, history and politics to the everyday needs and language that informed everyday life. He never hid behind a firewall of jargon, refused to substitute irony for civic courage and disdained the assumption that working-class and oppressed people were incapable of governing themselves.
Unlike so many public relations intellectuals today, I never heard him interview himself while talking to others. Everything he talked about often pointed to larger social issues, and all the while, he completely rejected any vestige of political and moral purity. His lack of rigidity coupled with his warmness and humor often threw people off, especially those on the left and right who seem to pride themselves on their often zombie-like stoicism. But, then again, Howard was not a child of privilege. He had a working-class sensibility, though hardly romanticized, and sympathy for the less privileged in society along with those whose voices had been kept out of the official narratives as well as a deeply felt commitment to solidarity, justice, dialogue and hope. And it was precisely this great sense of dignity and generosity in his politics and life that often moved people who shared his company privately or publicly. A few days before his death, he sent me a n email commenting on something I had written for Truthout about zombie politics. (It astonishes me that this will have been the last correspondence. Even at my age, the encouragement and support of this man, this towering figure in my life, meant such a great deal.) His response captures something so enduring and moving about his spirit. He wrote:
"Henry, we are in a situation where mild rebuke, even critiques we consider 'radical' are not sufficient. (Frederick Douglass' speech on the Fourth of July in 1852, thunderously angry, comes close to what is needed). Raising the temperature of our language, our indignation, is what you are doing and what is needed. I recall that Sartre, close to death, was asked: 'What do you regret?' He answered: 'I wasn't radical enough.'"
I suspect that Howard would have said the same thing about himself. And maybe no one can ever be radical enough, but Howard came close to that ideal in his work, life and politics. Howard's death is especially poignant for me because I think the formative culture that produced intellectuals like him is gone. He leaves an enormous gap in the lives of many thousands of people who knew him and were touched by the reality of the embodied and deeply felt politics he offered to all of us. I will miss him, his emails, his work, his smile and his endearing presence. Of course, he would frown on such a sentiment, and with a smile would more than likely say, "do more than mourn, organize." Of course, he would be right, but maybe we can do both.
Note From the Author: The renowned sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman, in response to my tribute to Howard Zinn responded by sending a piece he wrote on the recent anniversary of Camus's death. Zygmunt stated that he saw a parallel and connection between the lives of these two important public intellectuals.