Pro-Slavery? Or Just Unapologetic? Glenn Beck Defends the Three-Fifths Clause of the U.S. Constitution
The Tea Party Glenn Beck Sarah Palin New Right's onanistic spewing over naive worshiping of the U.S. Constitution continues once more. Earlier this week the Tea Party GOP Congress sponsored a Right-wing friendly reading of the U.S. Constitution with all of the "inconvenient" and "naughty" parts omitted or politely glossed over. In a teachable moment, Glenn Beck (historian in residence at Fox News) had to intervene against his confederates and "educate" them on the follies of their embarrassment motivated rewriting of history. Predictably, Beck did this by lecturing the Tea Party Republicans on the divine genius and perfection of the near deities known as "The Founders." [Apparently, this cabal of historical superheroes--a bunch reasonable folk know as John Jay, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, et al.--can do no wrong. For Beck and the Tea Bagger crowd, this disparate collection of personalities were not real people, political pragmatists who committed deeds both ill and good in the interest of political expediency--interests and deeds both selfish and generous. Nope. Not here.] Of course, instead of having an honest and transparent conversation about how the 3/5ths compromise empowered the South, reinforced their ability to preserve the slaveocracy through inflated representation in the Congress, and led to a Civil War, Beck instead indulges in a line of reasoning that does not pass the most simple tests of reasonable historiography and common sense. Glenn Beck's misrepresentations point to a bigger play at hand. The Texas rewriting of U.S. history, the banning of "Ethnic Studies" programs in Arizona, the Neo-Secessionist movement, and the general politics of white victimology and racial resentment that are the beating heart of the Republican Tea Party, speak to an old and deep vein of anti-intellectualism in American public life. Symptomatically, as we work through history and its relationship to American politics, Beck and the New Right are possessed of a belief that all opinions are created equal, and that the historical record is simply a "social construct," a function of mere interpretation that can be massaged at will to fit the political demands of the day. We can only imagine the consequences of fiction and myth as the basis of a political movement that seeks to remake the very foundations of the social contract and American's constitutional republic. I am not asking Glenn Beck to be the next Woodward, Williamson, Berlin, Franklin, Holt, or Hahn. Nor am I asking the Tea Party GOP brigands who carry around copies of the Constitution in their pockets as they play 18th Century America costume party to be especially sophisticated citizens. No, all I ask is that Glenn Beck in playing the the role of pseudo-historian at least maintain a pretense to truth seeking behavior...be it ethical, moral, or philosophical. Is this too much to expect of a dilettante historian with an on knee, mouth open, and ears ready audience that takes what Beck utters as wisdom from on high, metaphorical rain come down from the mountain top? Or am I just being too hopeful?