Columbus Day Special: Zinn, Engels and Columbus

In this attached video, historian and best-selling author Mary Grabar confronts her nemesis in absentia, the late Howard Zinn, a self-described anarchist-socialist who first and wrongly accused Christopher Columbus of genocide in his 1980 book, “A Peoples History of the United States.”

Prof. Grabar’s research has uncovered an entirely different Zinn from the darling of those who seek to banish Columbus from history. In her presentation at the Columbus Citizens Foundation, Grabar demonstrates how Zinn’s radical-left spin on events in American history was based upon illegitimate sources, plagiarism, and misrepresentations of Columbus’ own words from the great explorer’s extant diaries.

Contrary to Zinn’s claims, the institution of slavery pre-existed centuries before Columbus. Native tribes practiced child sacrifice and cannibalism, which Columbus sought to stop.

Zinn accused Columbus of genocide, killing many people from a particular nation or ethnic group to destroy that nation or group. But the truth is that the tragic deaths of Indians were not through Columbus’s actions or orders. Instead, deadly diseases ravaged newly exposed populations. Smallpox from Europe infected indigenous cultures, while infectious diseases from indigenous cultures spread among the Spanish and then throughout Europe.

Zinn pretends to set the record straight and casts Columbus as a greedy, gold-craving megalomaniac. But as Professor Grabar probed and researched more deeply, her suspicions turned to shock. “Every time I read his work, I feel like I have to take a shower,” she said.

Professor Grabar noted that Zinn enrolled in the Communist Party in 1948, then left the party to teach college students his brand of American history through a Marxist lens. Watch the video to learn how Zinn was deeply influenced by a 19th century essay by Friedrich Engels.

Academe quickly embraced and rarely challenged Zinn and his book despite its fatal flaws. College students trained under Zinn’s influence brought his indictment of Columbus to the high schools and beyond, making A People’s History a best seller in the classroom.

Professor Grabar, the author of the 2019 book “Debunking Howard Zinn, Exposing the Fake History that Turned a Generation Against America” argues that Columbus can only be understood in the context of his times. The explorer encountered a world of great civilizations sustained by institutionalized slavery, child sacrifice, and cannibalism, all of which Columbus opposed. Yet this false narrative continues because of a slacking citizenry and the lies from people like Zinn and others.

The Columbus Heritage Coalition and the Columbus Citizens Foundation sponsored the event, which was made possible by the generous support of the National Italian American Foundation.

Angelo Vivolo
Columbus Heritage Coalition