Letters: Zinn

Listeners were "appalled," "dismayed" and "shocked" over our inclusion of critical comments from conservative pundit David Horowitz's in our obituary of Howard Zinn. Zinn, a professor, author and political activist, was unapologetically liberal and gained national renown with his book A People's History of the United States. Robert Siegel and Madeline Brand read from listeners' letters.

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Time now for your letters. And first, reaction to our remembrance yesterday of Howard Zinn, author of "A Peoples History of the United States." Zinn was unapologetically leftist. And in his obituary we had this from conservative writer David Horowitz.

Mr. DAVID HOROWITZ (Author): Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So, he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse.

SIEGEL: Well, those remarks sent this avalanche of adjectives tumbling into our inbox: inelegant, inappropriate, tacky, rude, shocking, shameful and low class.


I was absolutely appalled, writes Eric Anderson(ph) of Denver, Colorado. Anderson then brought up our recent coverage of the death of televangelist Oral Roberts. He writes: You invited Pat Robertson to eulogize Roberts at length with no counterpoint. At the time, I thought that NPR was sacrificing a balanced view in favor of the respectful policy to speak no ill of the dead. If so, that is a special privilege accorded to the far right.

SIEGEL: Scott Mathis(ph) of Austin, Texas was equally appalled. He writes this: This segment was as ill-conceived as asking Mr. Potter to eulogize George Bailey. Or asking Ann Coulter to eulogize Noam Chomsky or asking James Carville to eulogize Ronald Reagan.

Well, we got a very different kind of response to our remembrance of J.D. Salinger, namely stories of the first time listeners read The Catcher In The Rye.

BRAND: For Molly Hans(ph) of Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, that was in 1964. She writes: Someone brought a copy to school and passed it around. At age 11 or 12, that was the best way to become one with Holden Caulfield, to hide the book behind your speller and hope you dont get caught by the nuns when you laughed out loud. We are all in our 50s and still talking about it - just what every writer hopes for.

SIEGEL: Thanks for all of your emails and keep them coming. Go to npr.org and click on Contact Us.

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