What’s a radical?

Since I’m reading his book, I’ve been reading up a little on Howard Zinn (who died last year). This is from Bob Herbert’s column right after Zinn’s death:

I always wondered why Howard Zinn was considered a radical. (He called himself a radical.) He was an unbelievably decent man who felt obliged to challenge injustice and unfairness wherever he found it. What was so radical about believing that workers should get a fair shake on the job, that corporations have too much power over our lives and much too much influence with the government, that wars are so murderously destructive that alternatives to warfare should be found, that blacks and other racial and ethnic minorities should have the same rights as whites, that the interests of powerful political leaders and corporate elites are not the same as those of ordinary people who are struggling from week to week to make ends meet?

Incidentally, Herbert himself has become one of the few national columnists I make a point of reading. Today’s column on the ongoing economic hardships facing working people in the U.S. is a good one. It’s had to think of another major columnist who focuses consistently on people at or near the bottom of the economic ladder.

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