After reviewing the Zinn and Schweikart accounts, the major distinctions in their assumptions, beliefs and values is that Zinn advocates for a purely factual account when retelling history, without introducing moral or ethical considerations; while Schweikart assumes a more defensive stance, particularly against how historical events and figures tend to be demonized if they go against popular political opinion. This is evident in the discussion surrounding Columbus’ arrival to the New World; Zinn assumes there were unethical practices associated with Columbus, but implies that discussing Columbus under this light is pointless, and only the facts should matter (Zinn, 2016). Schweikart paints a more defensive view of Columbus, and claims that comparisons between Columbus and Hitler are unfounded (Schweikart, 2004).
The major distinction in their interpretations of history are that Zinn believes that history is the product of its own era, and although modern thinking may view historical events in a negative or positive light, this moralizing does not service the actual study of history itself. In contrast, Schweikart takes a more reverent approach, and believes that history should be celebrated. His defense of Columbus is a reaction against what he perceives to be attacks on western culture.
The biases that can be seen are that Zinn prefers history to be a recording of facts and accounts of what took place, without introducing any personal feelings or reactions. Schweikart prefers that history be regarded, while also warning how interpreting the actions of others in the past according to today’s moral and ethical standards is a disservice. He believes this revisionist approach makes wrong assumptions, such as condemning Columbus for actions he did not commit. This is specifically in reference to how Native Americans were treated following Columbus’ arrival, but not as a direct result of Columbus’ actions. This type of bias can be seen to favor those who view western civilization favorably.
- Schweikart, L., & Allen, M. P. (2004). A patriot’s history of the United States: From Columbus’s great discovery to the war on terror. Penguin.
- Zinn, H. (2016). A people’s history of the United States. Boxtree.