Populist historian and Boston University professor Howard Zinn endorsed the Massachusetts Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate on Saturday in Cambridge’s First Parish Church.
In advance of the speech, the Harvard College Greens held a sparsely-attended tailgate party in front of the Science Center, marking its first event of the year.
Most of Zinn’s remarks plugged the campaign of Jill E. Stein ’73.
The audience of nearly 100 at Zinn’s speech was composed mostly of area Green Party members, including a contingent of Harvard students.
Audience members said that a large portion of Stein’s support on Nov. 5 would likely come from Cambridge.
But beyond a simple campaign endorsement during his hour-long speech, Zinn had a personal agenda—to speak out against an American invasion of Iraq.
“In Iraq, we have no precipitating event that would force us to engage in war,” Zinn said. “Saddam is our enemy of the month. Last month, it was bin Laden.”
Zinn also said that there is no such thing as a “good society” during war because history has shown that, in war, all participants are “congealed morally.”
Most of the students who were present at the speech said they found Zinn’s anti-war message compelling.
Paloma Yannakakis ’05, a member of the College Greens and attendee of both the tailgate and the speech, said she related to Zinn’s speech “particularly because he emphasized the psychological component of war, the kind of falsities that a country’s people have to believe to wage war on another country’s people.”
Christine M. Murray ’04, another College Greens member, said she felt “inspired to do something. It seems that every day war is more imminent but nobody’s talking about it.”
Zinn also spoke of the need for youth activism in the political arena.
Despite a turnout of about 15, the College Greens said they were happy with the attendance at their cookout and look forward to a year of political action.
Stephen H. Milder ’04, one of the College Greens’ steering committee members, said that Saturday’s event perfectly executed the early goals of the group.
“This event was definitely meant to be mostly a fun time, for new people to find out about the Green Party, and those who just quickly picked up some literature,” Milder said.
He added that the College Greens hope to change what they see as a declining national and local interest in politics by organizing events at Harvard throughout the year.