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Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004) Poster

Quotes

Zinn, Howard: History is important. If you don't know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.

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Zinn, Howard: I don't know if you have the same feeling as I do, when I wake up in the morning and read the paper, and you feel like you are in an occupied country. You feel like some alien group has taken over our country. But those men in the White House, who are making decisions to send young people to kill and to be killed, those people are alien to me.

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Zinn, Howard: The secret is: people getting together. The secret is: telling the truth. Truth is powerful. And it can only be suppressed for so long, then the truth gets out. And when the truth gets out a power is created that is greater than the power of the guns and money that a government possesses.

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Zinn, Howard: I had a modest goal when I became a teacher. I wanted to change the World.

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[first lines]

Zinn, Howard: We grow up in a controlled society, where we are told that when one person kills another person, that is murder, but when the government kills a hundred thousand, that is patriotism.

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Zinn, Howard: I don't believe it's possible to be neutral. The world is already moving in certain directions. And to be neutral, to be passive, in a situation like that, is to collaborate with what is going on. And I, as a teacher, don't want to be a collaborator.

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Zinn, Howard: I've always resented the smug statements of politicians, media commentators, corporate executives who talked about how, in America, if you worked hard, you would become rich. The meaning of that was: if you were poor, it was because you hadn't worked hard enough. I knew this was a lie.

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Narrator: Non-violence does not mean acceptance, but resistance; not waiting, but acting. It is not at all passive. It involves strikes, boycotts, non-cooperation, mass demonstrations and sabotage, as well as appeals to the conscience of the world, even to individuals in the oppressing group who might brake away from their past. - Direct action does not deride using the political rights, the civil liberties, even the voting mechanisms in those societies where they are available, but it recognizes the limitations of those controlled rights and goes beyond.

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Zinn, Howard: The good things that have been done, the reforms that have been made, the wars that have been stopped, the women's rights that have been won, the racism that has been partly extirpated in society, all of that was not done by government edict, was not done by the three branches of government. It was not done by that structure which we learn about in junior high school, which they say is democracy. It was all done by citizens' movements. And keep in mind that all great movements in the past have risen from small movements, from tiny clusters of people who came together here and there. When a movement is strong enough it doesn't matter who is in the White House; what really matters is what people do, and what people say, and what people *demand*.

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[last lines]

Zinn, Howard: You remember when Ali fought Foreman ? He seemed asleep. But when he woke up, he was ferocious. And so will the people - wake up!

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Zinn, Howard: I am supposing - or perhaps only hoping - that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than in the solid centuries of warfare.

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