I’ve gotten more than two dozen identical, typed postcards lately with the following message:
“Dear Mr. Rothschild:
“You claimed that the FBI put Howard Zinn on a “to be arrested” list “after he dared to criticize the FBI for not protecting black civil rights workers...” Zinn was on the FBI security index because he was a member of the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA. What’s more, he lied to the FBI about his membership in the party. Since Zinn wrote a column for The Progressive for 12 years, you have a responsibility to tell your readers what is really in his FBI file. Please publish a truthful article about Communist Party member Howard Zinn and how he deceived “progressives” like yourself.”
Doris Ingman of Richmond Hill, New York, mailed one of these postcards to me. So I called her to ask her who sent them to her.
“I belong to an organization that sends me these cards,” she told me. “Most of the time I send them in. I get quite a few conservative magazines.”
She thought that Judicial Watch had sent them to her, but it turns out they came from Accuracy in Media, as Cliff Kincaid, editor of the AIM Report, confirmed to me in an e-mail.
Kincaid wrote a column excoriating Zinn posthumously and assailing celebrities like Matt Damon, Maria Tomei, Bruce Springsteen, and Ralph Nader, as well as The Progressive magazine, for being “deceived” by him.
“In the same way that he tried to deceive the FBI agents who interviewed him about his CPUSA membership, it is now obvious that Zinn had been deceiving his ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ fellow-travelers for decades,” Kincaid wrote, in part. “All we are asking is that you set the record straight about how this secret Communist Party member lied about his CPUSA membership. Don't you agree this is a story you should tell your readers?”
For the record, Howard Zinn repeatedly denied to the FBI that he was ever a member of the Communist Party.
He was never arrested, tried, or convicted for being a member of the Communist Party—or for giving false information to the FBI. (The release of the extensive FBI file
on Zinn, it turns out, was requested by Kincaid himself.)
Also for the record, Howard Zinn never deceived The Progressive magazine about anything. We are not J. Edgar Hoover or Cliff Kincaid. We do not delve into the past associations of our writers. Whether Zinn was once a member of the Communist Party or not is of no import to us. All that we ask is that our writers illuminate the world we live in, which Howard Zinn did better than anyone I know.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his other "McCarthyism Watch" pieces by clicking here.
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