I’ve never thought of Mitch Daniels as the heroic type; not until now. But he deserves a medal for trying to spare Indiana students the mis-education that comes from reading the execrable Howard Zinn. The Associated Press obtained emails by then-Governor Daniels, now the President of Purdue:
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he never tried to quash academic freedom while serving as Indiana’s governor and criticized an Associated Press report citing emails in which he opposed use of a book by historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn.
Emails published Tuesday by the AP show Daniels tried to ensure Zinn’s book was not used in Indiana’s K-12 and college classrooms and that he worked to “disqualify the propaganda” he said was being taught to teachers in training at Indiana’s colleges. …
“This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away,” Daniels wrote, referring to Zinn, in a rapid exchange of emails between top state education officials on Feb. 9, 2010. “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?”
His education adviser quickly responded by noting the book was being used at Indiana University in a course for teachers. Daniels wrote back: “This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. … Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn’t?”
“Crap,” indeed. Zinn was an apologist for Communism and a vicious hater of the United States. As a historian, he was awful. He valued political power, not truth. It is refreshing to see a public official trying to upgrade education in his state by discouraging the teaching of charlatans like Howard Zinn.
STEVE comments: As I’m about to begin my nine-month sentence as an inmate at the University of Colorado, where certain precincts are besotted with America’s “Original Zinn” of the white Anglo-Saxon phallo-logo-centric hegemonic discourse, people like Zinn have been much on my mind. Aside from Zinn’s factual errors and distortions, it should be noted that the main defect of Zinn is that he takes the deviations from the perfect realization of America’s founding principles to be the whole of America, and hence argues that America is therefore wholly fraudulent, missing the paradox that it was precisely America’s founding principles (especially individual equality) that made possible the liberal reform tradition. Once you ponder this, you recognize that Zinn, like his intellectual cousin Noam Chomsky, is simply a hater.
I’ll add to several of the comments that Mitch Daniels was my dream candidate for 2012. I got to meet him once, and I did my best to persuade him to run for president. I’ll try to get better at this.