Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Defense of the Tea Party Movement

"History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." - Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Many liberal professors in colleges and universities throughout the United States want us to believe that only they have all the answers on any given subject.  Perhaps, nowhere else is it more evident than in the case with professors teaching history – more specifically American history.  In her book, The White of Their Eyes:  The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History, Harvard University professor and New Yorker staff writer, Jill Lepore, argues that only academic historians, such as herself, truly understand the history of the American Revolution. 
Published in 2010, Lepore’s book is a direct attack against the growth of the Tea Party Movement that followed the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009.  Lepore notes that her book is merely “an argument against historical fundamentalism” and hopes to “account” for the “battle over the Revolution.”  Although she admits that all political sides use the American Revolution to promote their agendas, it is clear that her book specifically targets the conservative movement in the country (note the title of the book itself).  She has a low opinion about the theory of originalism that many people still consider a legitimate form of understanding American constitutional history.  Lepore wants people to move forward instead of remaining stuck in the past.  As such, she hopes to use her expert training as an historian to end the propagandizing of American history by mediocre Americans such as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin amongst others.  Her intention is to show average Americans that only liberal academics understand America’s past best. 
According to Lepore, the Tea Party’s version of American history is not “kooky” but the more dangerous “antihistory.”  She notes, “in antihistory, time is an illusion.  Either we’re there, two hundred years ago, or they’re here, among us.”  Therefore, those who believe in the “illusion” are fooling themselves (and presumably others) in a standard that never existed.  Lepore argues, “we cannot go back to the eighteenth century, and the Founding Fathers are not, in fact, here with us today.”  She asserts that participants of the Tea Party Movement are foolish in suggesting that Americans “have forsaken” the Founders by “the latest, breaking political development-the election of the United States’ first African American president.”  She adds that the Tea Party is a group of fundamentalists who think the Founders are the “prophets” and “certain historical texts” must “be read in the same spirit with which religious fundamentalists read, for instance, the Ten Commandments.”  A few things are notable from Lepore’s assertions here:  She feels that the Tea Party Movement is antihistorical and the Tea Party participants are all racists and self-deluded zealots.     
In his masterworks, The Republic and The Laws, Cicero, the great Roman philosopher, (admired by the Founding Fathers) noted that by the time of Romulus and the formation of Rome, “men were educated and the times themselves were enlightened, there was hardly any scope for myth-making.”  He continues, that although some in “antiquity” may have “accepted fabulous stories” such was hardly the case after the founding of Rome because people “by now sophisticated, made a point of deriding sheer impossibilities and rejecting them with scorn.”  Clearly, Cicero recognized that people were intelligent enough to scrutinize myths and legends even in his time.  Yet, Lepore only has contempt for ordinary Americans today.  She feels they believe in “fables” and in “a version of American history” that has “no resemblance to the Revolution.”  She contends that the emergence of the Tea Party Movement is simply an outgrowth of such “illusion.”  Therefore, if Lepore is correct, Cicero must be wrong and we must admit that average Americans today are illiterate buffoons and incapable of understanding their own heritage.  Unfortunately, for Lepore, I have greater faith in the works of Cicero than hers.
Eminent historian of the American Revolution, Gordon Wood, wrote a fantastic rebuttal of Lepore’s book in 2011.  His review of Lepore’s book is an exemplary piece of work from an objective historian who has closely studied the American Revolution since the 1960s.  Of the American Revolution, Wood notes that the participants of the current Tea Party Movement share astounding similarities with their predecessors.  He states that in the Revolutionary period, “ordinary Americans organized their resistance without bothering to reflect on the abstract political theories of John Locke or John Adams that allegedly justified the rebellion.”  Therefore, even if we accept Lepore’s theory that participants in the Tea Party Movement today are unfamiliar with all the works of all the Founders, to suggest that they are ignorant and self-delusional about American history is quite a stretch. 
Contrary to Lepore’s assertions, Tea Party participants come from various backgrounds.  Indeed, many are college graduates and even (heaven forbid) teach at universities and colleges across the nation.  Many others are members of the United States Military.  Still others are business owners, parents, grandparents, retirees, college students, and (yes, shockingly) even immigrants.  Of course, in Lepore’s assessment, none measure up simply because they dissent from her views and that is enough for her to categorize them as bigots living in a make believe world of the past.
If recalling historical moments in times of crisis (or otherwise) is wrong then what precisely is the purpose of writing history?  Why do we want to remember our past?  Is it simply to jot down occurrences from a bygone era?  Could it be that for many of us, the purpose is to recall the past to help us in the present as we advance towards the future?  After all, did the Founders do things any differently themselves?  In his groundbreaking work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967), preeminent historian, Bernard Bailyn wrote that the Founders, “hated and feared the trends of their own time, and in their writing had contrasted the present with a better past, which they endowed with qualities absent from their own, corrupt era.”  Bailyn states that Founders such as Thomas Jefferson, James Otis, and John Adams amongst others felt, “the earlier age had been full of virtue; simplicity, patriotism, integrity, a love of justice and of liberty; the present was venal, cynical, and oppressive.” In this manner, regardless of Lepore’s opinion, it is evident that the participants of the Tea Party Movement today are indeed following the footsteps of the American Revolutionaries of 1776.      
Yet, Lepore feels that the writing of history must serve one goal:  to record the past as accurately as possible.  Undeniably, that should be the goal for all historians.  Yet, it is equally important to remember, that history serves a bigger purpose for people than a mere recording of their past.  Wood notes, “Memory is as important to our society as the history written by academics.”  Indeed, history is written to give people a connection to their past.  Without collective memory, history becomes one-dimensional and loses its true value.  It becomes precisely what Lepore hopes:  a list of occurrences without any meaning to those who ought to remember it. 
If the historian’s job is to displace any myths from the study of history, then it is also their duty to consider historical events without unnecessary personal bias.  If Lepore does a tremendous job in archiving the history of the American Revolution, she fails considerably by pushing her own liberal agenda.  Although, her intention may have been to write a book to set the record straight, the only thing she manages to do in the end is ridicule the significance of American history in the hearts and memories of average Americans.  It would serve her well to remember that without memories, all else is transient---including history.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Attacks on Conservative Women: The Real War on Women

On Tuesday, conservative talk radio host, Dana Loesch, became the target of venomous attacks on Twitter.  The vicious attacks came from liberals all over the world.  These defenders of women’s rights, human rights and children held nothing back as they expressed their love and care towards Loesch.     

Following the horrendous murder of a British soldier in London, Loesch asked CNN host, Piers Morgan, a simple question:  Was the guy with the machete a member of the NRA?”  Anyone with a brain cell can see that Loesch’s question was not targeting the unfortunate victim of the gruesome murder but actually pointing out that criminals will find ways to perform dastardly deeds with or without guns.  That the victim was a soldier and the murder occurred in broad daylight, in the middle of a street in London and near the army barracks makes the incident the more revealing that criminals are unlikely to obey laws.  

Yet, those who have perfected the skills of twisting things around all in the name of political correctness remained oblivious to Loesch’s point.  Morgan himself responded:  “You think the beheading of a soldier is something to be glib about??? “  Soon, his followers unthinkingly followed his lead and chose to barrage Loesch with sexist slurs, death, and rape threats.  Some accused her of being a woman and having the audacity (yes, these are the women’s rights supporters in 2013) to have an opinion.  @jackjharper wrote, “Keep your opinions to yourself woman and get back in the kitchen and make me a f**king sandwich.”   

Attacks on conservative women by the liberals are more common than people realize.  I have been the recipient of such attacks myself.  I have witnessed bitter attacks against Loesch and Michelle Malkin both and I am certain there are many other conservative women who suffer daily.  Make no mistake that it is abuse and it does matter.  Yet, for all the fuss about women’s rights, liberals are unwilling to put an end to it if the attacks are against conservative women.  Morgan has yet to put a halt to the mayhem he created yesterday against Loesch. 

Abuse, of any kind, against any person should be unacceptable.  It matters naught if the individual is a conservative or a progressive.  Ironically, the trumpeters of women’s rights are perhaps themselves the most violent and aggressive.  If there is any doubt, go read Loesch’s timeline on Twitter from yesterday.  Note, that for all her evilness, Loesch steadily maintained her professionalism and principles:  marks of a true conservative.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

State of Confusion

In the last couple of weeks, I have refrained from posting any new articles because I was taking the time to read (and make sense out of) the 844 page Immigration Proposal being pushed by the Gang of Eight in Washington.  Although, much of the information in the proposal seems redundant, I felt it was important to read every bit of it.  Suffice it to say, there is much within the massive document that is of concern; however, for now, I shall address something that occurred to me as I was studying the misguided proposal. 
Reading a document of this magnitude requires, at least a basic understanding of the law, politics, and our history.  It also demands the reader’s time.  I found it most difficult to read this document in its entirety because of the lack of time.  On days when I made any inroads, I was distracted with news of new challenges in our country.  I found myself spiraling down quickly because of the information overload.  I understood clearly then why so many of us decide to stay away from politics.
For those who think that Americans are simply disinterested in their country, let me assure you that this is hardly the case.  Although many Americans keep from actively participating in political issues pertaining to our country, plenty others want to be involved.  The problem for many of us is finding the time to keep up with what is happening in the country.
Consider for example the scandals that just broke recently on Benghazi, the shocking revelation of the IRS overreach, and the Justice Department’s encroachment over the privacy of Associated Press journalists.  We now know that these were ongoing issues-some of them reaching back by a few years-but all of them broke ground for the American public simultaneously.  Indeed, in a span of one week, Americans were bombarded with the IRS and the Department of Justice scandals. 
For many of us, these incidents are relevant because it is our business to cover them.  For some others, the incidents are also relevant because these individuals are interested and actively participate in political debate.  Yet, there are Americans who want to know what is happening politically but are unable to keep up with the constant state of chaos present in our country.  By the time they get to one issue, they are already hearing about another, and then another.  It is impossible to make sense out of anything because one is in a continuous state of confusion and even panic.  For an average American who is juggling work, family responsibilities, school, illness, paying bills, and making decisions about life, finding the underlying causes of any single political issue is virtually impossible.  Even if someone manages to make the time to focus on the issues, politicians and the media are close behind making it most difficult to comprehend how these matters affect Americans.
To be sure, Americans who are interested in issues that are prevalent in our country make the time to study them.  Yet, many others often get frustrated and give up.  Still others employ their time in other pursuits that are easier on the mind.  Whatever the stance Americans may take about educating themselves on our political culture, only the politicians, the media, and other interest groups find such confusion beneficial.  It is because of the confusion they stir that many of the politicians are able to maintain a stronghold in Washington.  It is because of the confusion that the media is able to keep their jobs.  It is because of the confusion that interest groups are able to maintain any advantage over the politicians and media.  It is because of the confusion that average Americans continue to be misinformed and unfortunately, remain uninformed.  It is because of the confusion that a select few now rule over the rest of us - quite a sharp contrast from the principles that once founded our great nation.