Zinn wrote that many Americans see the Constitution as "a work of genius" that created a masterpiece of "democracy and equality". Why does he disagree with this?

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samson98 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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As your prompt reveals, Howard Zinn disagrees with the prevailing American assumption that the Constitution was a "work of genius" that created a masterpiece of "democracy and equality" because practically speaking, the Constitution has little effect on anyone's life. He instead believes all of the important rights Americans have secured have come as the result of social movements. In an article forĀ The Nation, Zinn mentions five specific self-evident rights the Constitution did not grant but that social justice warriors had to fight for: the abolition of slavery, free speech, economic justice, social equality, and the ability to prevent unjust wars (i.e. the Vietnam conflict, which was essentially a war fought without Constitutional authorization). Zinn does not believe the Constitution is worthless, but he does believe the majority of Americans give it far more credit than it is due.


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