Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Learnin'

Relative to the last 20 years in my life I've read a lot of books in the past year.  I just finished my fourth in two weeks.   Not getting much ELSE done outside of work, mind you.

I finished David Mamet's "The Secret Knowledge", Harry Stein's "I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican" (mostly for fun, but it had some useful stuff in it), Sarah Palin's "America By Heart" -Yup, she and I are on the same page about America, and I would have no qualms about voting for her should she run, and The National Center for Constitutional Studies' "The Real Thomas Jefferson".

I thought I had a lot of respect for Thomas Jefferson before.  Now I want a bust of him on the mantle!  Wow!  I've ordered his Autobiography with a bunch of his writings, to boot.

Speaking of the National Center for Constitutional Studies, they have an excellent day-long seminar, The Making of America -- and we're sponsoring one right here in good ole Columbia, MO on Sept 17.   If you're close enough to come and can spare the time and a  little $$$, I think it's going to be well worth it.  Sign up here.

Calloway County Tea Party sponsored one several months ago, and I missed it.  I got the book for it, which is excellent as a reference book for the Constitution and a sketch of our early history.   That alone made me sad I missed it, but there were also the rave reviews from my fellow Central Mo Tea Partiers.  I want to go this time.

I'm about to start on "The Real George Washington".

After reading (well, even in the MIDDLE of reading) "The Real Thomas Jefferson", it became starkly clear to me (even though I already kinda knew from reading Alinsky) what the enemies of America are doing with our founders.  It's all a part of "Critical Theory" from the Columbia University "Institute for Social Research" ... and it's kind of the leaves and outer branches of it.

When you bring up what a great mind Thomas Jefferson was and how indispensable he was (same with George Washington et. al.)  you get "Dead White Male Slave Owner".   You may have a feeling there's more to it than that, but as a more honorable person who doesn't speak outside of his knowledge ... don't challenge them.   And it's because you don't know.  The founders were men, not saints, and they were simultaneously products of their time and the generation that ultimately planted the flag of liberty, for all, eventually -- on the planet.  Hopefully for good.

Right in the middle of reading it I saw an comment on facebook on a Refounders post the same old "Jefferson only wanted liberty for white males".   See, he owned slaves."   And this was right after my "Jefferson the Slave Owner" post.  And I was able to refute his claim (not about his "supporting" fact of the slaves, but about only wanting liberty for white males) with confidence and ease. (incidentally, this series has awesome references).

By the time I was 1/3 of the way through the book it was clear that Jefferson hated slavery, even though he owned slaves (he inherited them at 14 when his dad died).  And he did, in fact, work to end it in verifiable positive steps he took.  But it was not as simple as a flourish of the pen and voila!    Slavery was a fact of life our founders  had to deal with, and they brought about its end through the principles they espoused and codified.   It just took practice a while to catch up with principle -- and of course, the regrettable bloodshed it took to convince the stragglers (the Republicans sure were "intransigent" about it, weren't they? ;-)   )

My point here is, knowledge is light, out-of context facts and distortions cannot stand its power.  They fade like shadows before it.  But to get it ... you've got to learn it.   And to keep it around for future generations, your kids have to learn it.

And they're probably not going to learn it in school.    It's up to you.


Severian said...

And they're probably not going to learn it in school. It's up to you.

Hear hear.

Not to get all reductive or anything, but teaching these days is basically an act of vengeance. Teachers, and especially professors, were big nerds in high school, and just as they consoled themselves back then with the thought that the handsome varsity quarterback with the BMW and the gorgeous prom queen girlfriend was really just dumb and vapid, now they revenge themselves on the quarterback's kids by teaching them that everybody sucks except unkempt unwashed pseudo-revolutionaries.

Principles, obligations, the development of youth.... these are nothing next to some egghead's permanently bruised ego.

It doesn't have to be this way. Teaching used to be a respected profession, because teachers used to be respectable. But as soon as "educating future citizens" gave way to "airing our pathologies to a captive audience," education became a joke.

Cylar said...

The reference to Jefferson I hear most often (made by the Left) is how the guy was a Deist, and how that means all the conventional wisdom about most of our Founding Fathers being Christian, must be a bunch of hooey.

It's the same old aggressive agenda.

Mind you, I doubt they know a single other thing about Jefferson, except that he supposedly was messing around with a slave girl or something.

philmon said...

The charges of him messing around with one of his female slaves appears to be complete and utter bunk.

It was a charge raised in a gossip rag by one Thomas Callender - ironically enough one of the men Adams had put away on sedition act chargesn (for criticizing the Federalists -- the party that opposed Jefferson) that Jefferson freed (he freed all of them).

Apparently Callender wanted some government position for his troubles. He didn't get one, and was pissed. He went to work for a Federalist newspaper (the people he was railing on that got him put in jail in the first place) to take revenge. He was apparently a "National Enquirer" type of reporter, and just started publishing all kinds of sh*t about Republicans and then turned on Jefferson himself.

John C. Miller, a Stanford University historian, describes Callender as "the most unscrupulous scandalmonger of the day . . . a journalist who stopped at nothing and stooped to anything." He explains:

Callender made his charges against Jefferson without fear and without research. He had never visited Monticello; he had never spoken to Sally Hemings; he had never made the slightest effort to verify the "facts" he so stridently proclaimed. It was "journalism" at its most reckless, wildly irresponsible, and scurrilous. Callender was not an investigative journalist; he never bothered to investigate anything. For him, the story, especially if it reeked of scandal, was everything; truth, if it stood in his way, was summarily mowed down.

In other words, he would have gotten on well at MSNBC :-)

At any rate, that is the ONLY historical source of the rumor. There is apparently a possibility that one of his nephews had a dalliance with the slave in question. But no one will ever know.

Several years later, Callender hanged himself. Guilty conscience?

The charges of atheism originated in the Federalist's campaign against him during the presidential campaign.

From reading his own words, it is clear Jefferson considered himself a Christian, but he kept his beliefs to himself most of the time. It is possible that he didn't believe in the divinity of Christ, but he clearly believed in Christ's teachings and in the God of whom Jesus spoke.

philmon said...

Incidentally, the slave woman in question was Sally Hemmings.

philmon said...

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