From Zinn's perspective, history should not be told from the standpoints of generals or presidents, but through that of people who struggle for their rights, who engage in strikes, boycotts, slave rebellions and the like. Its purpose should be to encourage similar behavior today. Indeed, Zinn candidly said that history was not about "understanding the past," but rather, about "changing the future." That statement alone should have disqualified anyone from referring to him as a historian.
Zinn did not exempt President Barack Obama who he thought was both "a mediocre" and "dangerous president" from his criticism. In the last article he wrote, that appeared in The Nation
last week, Zinn argued that Obama's foreign policy was "no different from a Republican," that he was "nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike." As for his proposed domestic programs, he found them "limited" and "cautious." He also did not approve of the apparent decision to try those responsible for 9/11, and referred to them as "suspected terrorists," who "have not been found guilty."
Zinn was certainly entitled to his perspective, widely held by many in the academy, but its danger lies in the favorable reception he often got from those who know little. As one of his proteges, Dave Zirin, writes on The Huffington Post: "With his death, we lose a man who did nothing less than rewrite the narrative of the United States." That, precisely, is the problem.