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Sports, Politics, and the Lies of History

Ralph talks to Nation magazine sports editor, Dave Zirin, about among other things Lebron James, the heroic gymnasts who brought down Dr. Larry Nasser, and the future of football. And Professor James W. Loewen reveals all the lies your teacher told you in high school about American history.

Dave Zirin is sports editor for The Nation magazine and the author of eight books on the politics of sports, most recently, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Fight for DemocracyMr. Zirin is a frequent guest on ESPN, MSNBC, and Democracy Now! He also hosts The Nation’s Edge of Sports podcast.

“This issue of head injuries, much more so than anyone kneeling during the anthem or sniping with Trump or any such nonsense, that’s what represents the true existential threat to the sport (of football)… It may take fifty years, but there is an evolution going on where I think the sport is going to leak out the next generation of talent, particularly about concerns at the high school level. And the more we learn about concussions, the more difficult it’s going to be to insure these programs just to make them legally viable and affordable in your typical high school district.” Dave Zirin Sports editor for “The Nation.”

James W. Loewen is a sociologist and historian. He is the author of a number of books, including Sundown TownsTeaching What Really Happened); The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader; and the new paperback edition of his most famous book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong.

“(Christopher Columbus) started the process of the transatlantic slave trade only from left to right, from West to East, namely in shall we say “red people,” Native Americans. He doesn’t get credit for that, because again, that might be controversial, that might be bad. We can’t have Columbus Day if we’re going to be saying bad things about him.” James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 252 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Edward Yu says:

    Wonderful interview with James Loewen, who deserves not only to be featured for the entire hour, but for many, many hours! Please invite him back, and not for just one interview. Like Ralph Nader, Professor Loewen is a precious storehouse of knowledge and experience.

  2. Marc Hudgens says:

    As a lifelong college football fan, I could listen to Dave Zirin all day. Admittedly I’m not well-read on ALL his work but I have read a few things – he’s on the money about all the time. I would advise Ralph to read up another writer I’ve followed periodically: Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel. Years ago he wrote a book, “Death to the BCS”, where he skewered the highly corrupt and money-drenched sport of college football. He continues to skewer the sport when he gets into the economics of it in his articles. But please have Zirin on regularly, maybe 4 times a year to talk about what I consider America’s big 3 sports: basketball, baseball and definitely football. Fourth time a year can be the Olympics.

    When Prof. Loewen states that we ended slavery, not necessarily true. The exception clause to the 13th Amendment allows it in prisons. And we wonder why the prison population is exploding? Is it race alone, or is it that it’s a massive money maker? Because the latter point is the core reason why we even delved into slavery. Making it racially-based just makes it easier to distract from this core reason and allows the proliferation of identity politics. But let’s please stop saying there’s no more slavery in America. Not true.

  3. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Also missing entirely from my elementary and high school history education (and I actually read parts of Zinn’s book for AP US History): The rich history of organized labor in the United States. Nothing about the Battle of Blair Mountain, nothing about the Haymarket affair and the fight for the eight-hour workday, nothing about the Philadelphia General Strike, nothing about the New Orleans General Strike, nothing about the Seattle General Strike, not a word about the Knights of Labor, the AFL, the IWW, the CIO, and certainly nothing about anarchist, socialist, and communist organizing outside the Red Scares and McCarthyism. It’s as if the New Deal just magically sprang forth from FDR’s benevolent mind to address the Great Depression.

    An important point missed about Wilson was his signing of the Espionage Act to imprison and intimidate anti-war voices, the original attack on the 1st amendment that was never repealed and still has wide-ranging implications even today.

  4. Andy Schmidt says:

    I’ve read Lies My Teacher Told Me and Sundown Towns by Mr. Loewen, and they’re both outstanding. So I was disappointed to hear at one point during this interview that he of all people seems to buy into the official why of 9/11, which is the “blowback” theory—that we’ve been messing around in the Middle East, and 9/11 was a revenge attack on the United States. It sounds like he read the wrong six books about 9/11. I was expecting some serious discussion of works by David Ray Griffin and others who’ve exposed the lies and omissions of the 9/11 Commission Report. Too hot to handle? The official 9/11 account is a racist myth that deserves the same kind of scrutiny that he applies to U.S. history textbooks.