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Monday, January 17, 2011

You People Could Learn From That

While sifting through some links posted by various bloggers I link on my site, I was immediately drawn to the irony of Mark Steyn attempting to wax philosophical about memory and society.

If anything, the modern American Right have done more just within the last 12 months to remove widely and accurately recorded American history in order to further some of the most specious and head-scratching narratives in my lifetime. From the level of religious fervor of the Founding Fathers, how Roosevelt was solely responsible for the extended length of the Great Depression, to reasons why Sarah Palin quit her elected position as Governor of Alaska, the Right could really use an American history lesson in the worst way.

This is no less clear than in a recent rebuttal to one of the Right's favorite "boogeymen", Bill Maher:

While Maher delivers a rather accurate portrayal of the Founders, this doesn't stop reactionary Right-Wingers from standing up an doing their best NUH-UGH !!!.

I hate to break it to you, Bill, but the majority of the Founding Fathers were religious. And those who weren’t orthodox in their beliefs, at least had a healthy respect and appreciation for religion. They didn’t want to force others to believe as they did – certainly – but they respected religion, and the Bible, nonetheless. Even those more critical, such as Thomas Jefferson, believed the Bible contained important lessons – lessons wise men should take to heart. There may have been a few, like Thomas Paine, who held religion in less high esteem, but they were the minority, not the majority.

It's clear that the author uses the word "religion" to imply "Christianity", but what they don't seem to understand is that Maher never once claimed that all the Founders thought there weren't at least a few good ideas in the Bible. As a fairly non-religious person myself ( I grew up in a strict Christian-conservative home ) I do think there are more than a handful of interesting ideas in Biblical text that could actually make the modern American Right more palatable if they actually abide by them rather than insisting they either don't apply or just apply to everyone else but them.

The realities surrounding the Founders is that the majority of them espoused - to varying degrees - a religious bent that would in no way mirror what the modern American Right would agree with. That is the point of Maher's monologue, but is lost on anyone too afraid to step outside of their clingy nature of King James text and what they perceive are it's messages to the modern world.

But then the author at HotAir's "Green Room" takes his "message" in a completely different direction:

Furthermore, unlike what Maher seems to believe, the Founding Fathers weren’t big fans of a welfare state. At all. In fact, they considered the government the greatest potential threat to freedom. They understood that an intrusive, activist state always limits a people’s freedom. That’s why they wrote the Constitution in the first place: they wanted to guarantee Americans specific rights, the government could not take away.

Funny, I never once heard Maher mention "welfare" of any kind in reference to the Founders. But, that is the nature of a Tea Bagger, to insist that anyone outside their limited sphere of understanding - whether of the history of this country or that of others - as they are more interested in claiming that all liberals/progressive are more interested in a handout than actually earning what they have.

Beyond that, I think this is a glaring example of how reactionary Right Wingers think that a strict interpretation of the Constitution and what they believe the Founders believed takes precedent over careful analysis of both. After all, do you think that Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, or Franklin could have envisioned what America would become even 100 years after the Constitution was written? To hear a Tea Bagger prattle on about it, you would think that they believed the Constitution was expressly written with multi-media election advertisements in mind.

The rest of the authors poorly constructed thesis reads a lot like a slightly longer and less interesting version of Pee Wee Herman shouting "I know you are, but what am I ?!?!?!"

The Tea Party continues this tradition. They too stand for individual liberty, over collectivism and social engineering. They want the government to get out of the people’s business – out of their health care and out of their pockets. If there’s one thing they demand, it’s to be left alone to live their lives as they please. Not as it pleases Maher and other cocky liberals who mess up their own lives in virtually every respect, but who nonetheless believe it’s up to them to tell others how to live.

Perhaps that Maher can do what he seems to value so much – get a good education – before spouting his mouth off again about things he has little to no knowledge of. If not, he’d do us all a favor if he’d just keep his deliberately humiliating mouth shut.

How has Marher messed up his life? He's a successful comic and host of a great show on HBO that has a wider variety of guests than any Fox"News" program that the author most likely would attempt to reference. Also, it seems that the author - and pretty much everyone within the blinding confines of the American Right Wing - think that just because someone from the Left responds to them means that they are jealous of how successful someone else is.

This isn't to say that the Founders would have agreed with the Left in America either. But then again, we don't operate under the delusion that the Founders are "just like us", as we can differentiate between the 1700s and today.

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