Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Myth of the Founding Fathers

With Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers

Led by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Tea Party worshippers of the Founding Fathers want to return to the “good ol’ days” of 1787, when most African-Americans were slaves, many poor whites were indentured servants, and women couldn’t vote. At the time the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Native Americans were being slaughtered for their land, and Mexicans who were indigenous to the Southwest and the West coast of what became the United States were included in the genocide.

None of the ancestors of the African American, Native American, or Latino speakers addressing the mostly white Tea Partiers at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech would have been among the Founding Fathers. No women, Jews, Muslims, poor people or non-land owners were numbered amongst the Founders who were rich white men.

Conservatives have trouble seeking sensible solutions to our present-day problems of poverty, violence, and perpetual war that make rich folks richer while poor people suffer and weapons makers and war profiteers make big bucks while killing and injuring innumerable innocent people. The problems are caused by big moneyed interests with the help of simple minded sycophants like Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers. Their answer is to look backward to the wealthy Founding Fathers for guidance. The Tea Partiers believe the mythologized Founding Fathers are more intelligent and moral than anyone today except maybe radical right-wingers like Beck and Palin.

While hosting the Glenn Beck Program, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show and the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, Beck has been promoting conspiracy theories and delivering incoherent diatribes against socialists and environmentalists. Beck has called President Obama a Marxist, communist, and socialist who is taking America down the road to fascism. He has accused Obama of being a racist with a “hatred for whites”, and alleged that the Obama Presidency is like evil gorillas, endangering humankind and compared Obama’s America to “the Planet of the Apes”. He said that Al Gore wants to create a new “Hitler youth” because he promotes environmental awareness among young people. Beck doesn’t believe in global warming, but loves guns and militarism.

In Washington Beck did not mention Obama or Gore, but rather, assumed the role of an evangelist, presenting a religious theme of “Faith, Hope and Charity” which was a lame attempt to mask his worship of Mammon, the God of big business. Beck’s big show “just happened” to be at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King II made his iconic speech 47 years ago to the day. Beck said he was totally unaware it was the anniversary of King’s address when he scheduled his event and he believes the Lord led him to schedule the event at that time and place. He also boasted that the right wing rally had “reclaimed the civil rights movement.” Beck said he heard the voice of God while addressing his flock, a symptom characteristic of schizophrenia. He and his far right friend and probable Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin repeatedly mentioned King’s legacy, as giant screens carried King’s image and brief excerpts of his 1963 address. Earlier this year Beck denounced King as a “radical socialist” and questioned why a national holiday had been named in his honor. Beck was born in a Roman Catholic family, but converted to Mormonism. He says he “found the Lord” who saved him from his alcohol and drug addiction and his channeling the voice of God sounds like the faith required in a 12 steps effort to stay on the wagon. .

In his rambling speech Beck gave several quotes from the Declaration of Independence, recited the Gettysburg Address, invoked trite clich├ęs of Americana and read bible verses. Palin said she was the mother of a “combat vet” and led a chant of USA, USA, USA.”

In the past other extremist populist movements in America also wrapped themselves in the cross and the flag, but espoused some social and economic policies that appealed to the common man. Father Charles Coughlin and Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith were demagogic leaders in the depression days of the 1930s, who at least talked about the dangers of capitalism, with Coughlin advocating a guaranteed annual wage and nationalization of some industries and Smith calling for income limits for the wealthy and old age pensions for everyone.

When he announced the rally, Beck promised to present a plan which would provide “specific policies and action steps” to found “a new national movement to restore our great country.” Instead, in his speech on Saturday, he said he decided to not reveal the plan, because of a conversation he had with God. Rather than explaining his plan “to restore our great country”, Beck said that people should turn to the Lord by praying on their knees and leaving their doors open so their children could see them doing so. Could it be that the billionaires and corporate entities who fund the tea party movement nixed the plan that might help poor and working class people at their expense?

Beck, Palin and their fellow Tea Partiers worship the rich white men and moneyed interests who fund their movement and their politics. Their gods are 21st century manifestations of the rich white men who were the Founding Fathers.


  1. There was just one thing I found to disagree with in your first blog and, thankfully, you did not perpetuate it: In the third paragraph, you make opening reference to "Conservatives." Now, there's much I differ with conservatives on, though on some issues, we could find some common ground. More to the point, true conservatives would find very, very much to differ with in what is frequently labeled conservative, but is in fact a dangerously radical right-wing philosophy. Please, let's not help the fascists give conservatism a bad name.

    I never thought I'd witnessed so much Orwellian politics just 20 years after Eric Blair (he used a pen name) placed the setting of his novel of a horrifyingly fantastical future. The amount of doublespeak from the right is amazing. Glenn Beck both "condemns [and gives] faint praise" to Reverend King in so short a span of time. Sarah Palin touts her feminism....What gall.

    And on the South Carolina level, let me cite three examples from Greenville's local right-wing weekly: Some time ago the paper's editor went to great lengths to distinguish the US as a republic rather than a democracy-- democracy, of course being a "liberal" construct. Shortly after, they ran a series of stories vilifying activist Saul Alinsky and his book "Rules for Radicals"-- the same book that is required reading for employees of David Koch's and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, which has fostered money and expertise to local Tea Party movements. More recently, the Greenville weekly ran an editorial condemning President Obama for reneging on his promise to extend tax cuts to the middle class-- even though enabling legislation is being stalled by the Republicans because it doesn't do likewise for the country's wealthy class.

    The hypocrisy is unbelievable, and would be very amusing, but for the dire consequences. How far must we fall before we raise ourselves up again?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Stephen.

    It's probably about time we all go back up to the Mall in DC to rally for peace like we all did when the invasion of Iraq was coming down.

    I hear you when you question the 3rd paragraph that says:

    "Conservatives have trouble seeking sensible solutions to our present-day problems of poverty, violence, and perpetual war that make rich folks richer while poor people suffer and weapons makers and war profiteers make big bucks while killing and injuring innumerable innocent people."

    This could be said of many Democrats as well. The war complex, banksters and large corporate interests buy off both sides of the aisle. The reason the big money boys keep the two party system is because it is easier to buy off two parties than more than two.

    Dick Armey is an arm of big business and Richard Scaiffe(sp)is also a big benefactor of the Tea Partiers.

  3. Congratulations, Tom. I reposted this on Facebook. Best wishes to you and your family.
    Charles Fulwood

  4. Thanks, for reposting it Charles.

    I am catching hell about the post from some tea partiers. I go a fax yesterday from a guy in Michigan who called me a "Liberal, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Progressive, Statist, and probably have one in mind, as well as another country today that you prefer over ours." He also said "Just what other country back then had better goals for self-government?"

    I called the fellow on the phone this morning and said I agreed with him when he wrote, "Just what other country back then had better goals for self-government?" He seemed very surprised and we actually had a cordial conversation. He agreed with me that money controls our political system.

  5. i take issue with the fact that you disregard our founding fathers seemingly because insipid morons like beck and palin look to co-opt their greatness and warp their inherent message. the founding fathers were limited by the social conventions of their day, and as such the bill of rights was obviously limited in its applications. however what you fail to recognize is that their greatness comes from giving us a system subject to the rule of law that is amendable as we see fit. so while slavery, women's suffrage etc. were not addressed at the time, subsequent generations were able to sufficiently correct this. while our society is hardly perfect, it has made progress. i would think far more than without a constitution. despite the teaparty being co-opted by the right wing republicans there are some inherent truths about obama: he is a war monger and a liar as much as bush and co. the fact that he believes the u.s. has the right to assasinate citizens is insane. biden's appearance on charlie rose validating the iraq war narrative was orwellian, even more so since they ran on peace and withdraw from iraq. their escalation and destabilization of afghanistan and pakistan is contra the rule of law, both domestic and int'l. obama is a corporatist, not a socialist. he and his administration are nothing but schills for goldman sachs and int'l banks as evidenced by their continued support of bailouts etc. our economy is in shambles and he stands there and says the worst if over with a 10% unemployment rate. 22% if you count things like they did in 1980. if you want to beat on the tea party fine, palin and beck are insipid beyond the level of words to describe them. as for the founding fathers, george washington stepped down and refused kingship...while i wouldn't say he was the most moral human ever, find me one person in DC, dem or repub with that much character and integrity today.

  6. Once again we see progressives and those of a liberal bent giving Beck, Palin, and their ilk air time and publicity when their drivel and preposterous beliefs should just be ignored instead. These botched mentalities do not need to be even discussed. This only lends them some sort of legitimacy, and has little effect other than partisan name calling. Why waste your readers' time telling them about the mistakes of the feeble minded? Tell us instead about the lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, or about Bradley Manning and his persecution.

  7. I don't disregard the Founding Fathers, but do I disdain the fact that they talked the talk but did not walk the walk. I liked what they said but not what they did.

    The Declaration of Independence was the best description of the relationship a free people should have with their government ever. But it was written by Thomas Jefferson who was a big-time slaveholder who had children with one of his slaves and believed that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites in a genetic sense.

    I am descended from the Choctaw tribe of indigenous Americans and I resent the holocaust/genocide the Founding Fathers and their friends perpetrated against Native Americans. Here is a link to a piece I wrote about this part of our history.

    I agree with you about Obama who won the election by appealing to the progressive, anti-war base of the Democratic party and has become a big-time corporatist.

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. This comment refers to the second anonymous comment. My comment above refers to the first anonymous, or maybe they are one and the same, but I reckon if you are anonymous you don't have a real identity anyway.

    Thanks for the comment, second anonymous. Maybe you could "Tell us instead about the lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, or about Bradley Manning and his persecution."

    If you don't thank the Tea Party crowd is a potent political force you might have a big surprise coming. They are really mad about the our rather dysfunctional system of government and many of us progressives are also.

  9. I think it is unfair to judge the founding fathers as you do. The relations with the Indians were fairly subdued at first to just make room for the ever increasing immigrants who wanted their own land... Free of indians of couse. It didn't become genocidal until after the civil war when something had to be done (some excuse had to be made in order to keep it) with that wonderful... Morally superior... Union army. You know... The one who just freed all those slaves through the largest slaughter of Americans still to this date. Lol. Speaking of slavery though... Funny how the end of slavery just happened to coincide with the Industrial Revolution. Funny how the half of America that began to industrialize was the side to abandon slavery... Even though they continued to use import taxes mainly from southern trading of agriculture to subsidize the Infrastructure projects. But hey... I've always been cynical. What do I know. Maybe Americans wouldn't return to slavery if our society was sent back to colonial times. Maybe we are morally superior to the founders of our country. It isn't like the Elite here can lead us around by the nose to perform unspeakably evil acts. It isn't like we incinerated two medium sized cities of civilians with nuclear fission. Or slaughtered some 2 million Asians over some whacked out theory about dominos falling. Or bombed and invaded a fairly modern country to destroy its infrastructure... Then pull back and impose a 15 year embargo complete with random bombings, denying food, denying water treatment chemicals, denying antibiotics etc. At the conclusion of that declare the demolished and demoralized country a dangerous untolerable threat to the you invade, bomb, and completely take the country over... Everyone is just suppose to ignore that the country is sitting on huge oil fields. Lmao. Yes. We who live in modern luxury and still can't keep blood off our hands have a right to pass judgement of the colonialists. Sorry but I just think you are full of it.

  10. Thanks for writing Mr. Goldhorder.

    You are correct that I am full of it. I am full of a strong belief that European imperialism/colonialism has been the cause of genocide, slavery and despotism around the world more than anything else for more than a thousand years from the Roman Empire to the Crusades, Vietnam, and Iraq. The US Founding Fathers were very much a part of this European imperialism and the US is an extension of it. The Founding Fathers were English colonial imperialists and were fond of the Brits who help them with big bucks and troops to kick the butts of the French in the French and Indian Wars. When the Brits tried to tax the colonials to regain some of the money the bankrupt Brits had spent on the war in North America it set the stage for the Boston Tea Party and the War for Independence.

    I liked what the Founding Fathers said but not what they did.

    As I said in a previous comment:

    The Declaration of Independence was the best description of the relationship a free people should have with their government ever. But it was written by Thomas Jefferson who was a big-time slaveholder who had children with one of his slaves and believed that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites in a genetic sense.

    I am descended from the Choctaw tribe of indigenous Americans and I resent the holocaust/genocide the Founding Fathers and their friends perpetrated against Native Americans. The genocide against native Americans began the moment Christopher Columbus set foot in the "New World". Here are links to a couple of pieces I wrote about this part of our history that you might find useful for you to understand what happened.

    Thanks for your comment.

  11. My point was that people are no more moral today than they were in colonial times.... in fact they are worse. All human beings are capable of the most unspeakable horrors. Especially when they have the advantage and have been purposefully educated in the martial spirit. The US public school system was copied from the Prussians as John Taylor Gatto documented. That Jeffersonianism you so strongly criticize was the only thing standing between total control by the elite in DC. The program started in 1900 and slowly eroded the distrust of government that kept this country from being turned into a complete horror. This country runs an evil empire now with far moredestructive ways than in colonial times. Whatever crimes happened... Happened to your ancestors. Not you. It was horrible but it is also done. Now a Black man leads the slaughter of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan... Is it somehow more moral now that woman can vote and a black man leads the cheerleading for the slaughter of the modern day "red man". Of course there was that whole buffalo soldier thing so maybe you hate them almost as much as the white man. Oh yeah.Lol. Really I think we probably agree about the evils done. I just don't think you understand the human condition. You think it is somehow unique to europeon colonialism. Just be thankful Ghangis Khan never found his way over or your people might have been wiped out alot earlier. But really... All nonsense... And bleeding hearts aside for your ancestor's fate. What is to be done today? You gonna try to revenge your people like Russell Means? Declare your own country? Or you gonna tell your Wooo is me... My ancestors suffered and now I want sympathy nonsense. You'll get none of that from me. You didn't endure that. If you are mad about it... Do something about it. As a "dessert storm" veteran, I had a smedley butler moment after getting out of that nonsense. I have isolated myself from the US government and am involved in several institutions hell bent on undermining support for our evil overlords. I don't have any illusions though. As a product of American public schooling. I have no doubt that "the underground history of American education" is correct. It will take generations of unschooling to get people to act and think for themselves. This country is in for some very dark days... Well deserved btw... In the not too distant future.

  12. What a zinger of a post. Outstanding it is.

    "Conservatives have trouble seeking sensible solutions to our present-day problems . . ." I think this goes along with people who fantasize about and always want to go back to the past. They are scared because they have no solutions and it's easier to wish for some romaticized time that nevr was.

    I used to share Stephen's thoughts on the differences between the right-wing extremists and the conservatives. But since the latter refuse to speak up and denounce any of this stupidity and ugliness, I can only assume they are in agreement. Too bad there aren't more with the courage of a Colin Powell.

    ""Liberal, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Progressive, Statist"? Sounds like you've arrived, my friend. Wear it with honor.

    Again, an outstanding and well thought-out post.

  13. Thanks, Ms. Parsley,

    Right wing-nuts romanticize and glorify the Founding Fathers almost as much as war. The myths about the Founding Fathers are used to glorify myths about war and violence. Our dearly departed Senator Strom Thurmond invoked the deity of the Founding Fathers to justify maintaining white supremacy and every other far right injustice to "those" people almost as much as he glorified war in the name of the Founding Fathers "who fought and died for our freedom".

  14. I received an e-mail that contained another interesting comment by Mr. Goldhorder but it was not on the blog?

  15. You've drawn the lightening, I see! Goldhorder and Anonymous #2 write very much alike, except that Goldhorder uses caps. Probably the same person; equally hard to follow.

    Sarah Palin, Ms. Mama Grizzly, would not have been given five minutes worth of attention by the Founding Fathers...glad you pointed that out.

  16. The point of the piece was to debunk the use of myths in justifying almost any conduct the human mind can imagine. As I tried to explain, the myth of the Founding Fathers has been used to justify everything from slavery to endless war, genocide and much more. It's interesting how the Tea Partiers dress up like the mostly wealthy white men who are mythologized as the Founding Fathers. I don't deny that some of the rhetoric, especially Jefferson's, has since been used to bring about positive change.

    However, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and their followers use the Founding Fathers to justify some very far out concepts of government.

  17. Well, an intelligent analysis!

    In all reality the founding fathers were ahead of their times and for all practical purposes limited by their times.

    Yes, Jefferson did sleep and have children with his slaves and no, he did not free them upon his death like Washington did. But before jefferson got into politics he actually defended blacks attempting to escape all brillant men he was conflicted. he was afterall just a man....kind of like bill clinton...

    The right, and I like that word alot more than "conservatives" because true conservatives in the model of Edmund Burke would be appalled at what is being labelled conservative today...but the right has nothing else but Ayn Rand and Founding Father quotes to hide behind. 71% of Americans still blame the Republicans for our economic you got to find another platform to run on because you can't run on that record.

    They got their mileage out of Hannity and OReilly so now they milk Beck for all hes worth...

    Its the same stereo just a different record...

    Limbaugh plays during the day and appeals to a bunch of guys who are unhappy and miserable in their lives...the "I could have been a contender..." bunch....the ones who after listening to Limbaugh then go down to their local bar for happy hour where they can talk about the BIG GAME that they played in high school which was 20 years ago...

    Misery loves company...

  18. A very interesting and thought provoking post. Perhaps critics should check out the late Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States", and three books by James Bradley, "Flags of Our Fathers", "Flyboys", and "The Imperial Cruise" as a alternative to their standard history reading. These are supplements and a natural extensions in tweeking the veneer that covers historical figures from the Age of Columbus to the The Age of Obama.

    Well done, Tom T!

  19. Hey Tom,you and Ju-Ju are in great company,seeing the big picture. Tea partiers want to return to the good ol days but they tend to forget that those days also represented oppression and selfishness for a few with strong conservative rules. The ruling party back then leading into the industrial age also oppressed Irish, Native Americans, Blacks, Chinese, and anybody else who was not White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. As far as Beck quoting from the Bible, he must have forgot the Book of Acts Chapter 2 vs 42thru47, and I quote And they continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship,and in the breaking of bread,and in prayer's. Vs.43 and fear came upon every soul,and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.Vs.44 And all that believed were together,and had all things in common.Vs.45 And sold their possesions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had needs.Vs.46 And they continued daily with one accord in the temple,and breaking bread from house to house,did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.Vs.47 Praising God and having favour with all people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. My point is if Tea partiers are calling for the good old days don't stop at George and the boys. Start with Jesus Christ, the disciples,the Gospel and the ancient days, which are the true good ole days. John Holmes

  20. Excellent analysis,Mr Turnipseed.Anything I add would merely echo the truth of what you wrote. I've read several of your articles at Commondreams and other places,didn't know you had a blog. I followed a link over from Leslie Parsley's. Keep up the good work!

  21. Thanks for your comments Tao, Hugh Jee, John Holmes and Oso. I'm glad that you all were interested enough in the piece to add your thoughtful words.

    I agree with Tao's comments. Her description of Rush Limbaugh's listeners was great.

    Hugh Jee from Jersey's reference to our recently deceased friend Howard Zinn struck a chord with me because Howard was a regular guest on our radio show and a wonderful person. His work for peace and social justice will be remembered and revered. Howard is an inspiration to the progressive movement everywhere.

    It was good to hear from John Holmes who affectionately calls Judy Ju-Ju and me Tom-Tom. Our grandchildren call us Ju-Ju and Tom-Tom which is on our aprons when we feed mostly homeless people in Finlay Park in Columbia every Sunday with our local affiliate of Food Not Bombs. Judy and I are also supporters of Homeless Helping Homeless(HHH. John Holmes is the founding president of HHH.

    And I appreciate your kind comment, brother Oso.
    I've enjoyed writing essays published on Common Dreams for the past 10 or 12 years.

  22. On another important issue, I am pissed at how a warmongering plutocracy appears to be in control of the US and is using our tax dollars to kill and maim innocent people while the fat cats get fatter. Rather than secede we should use every non-violent means to "drive the money-changers out of the temple" as FDR so famously freeBaker Street

  23. "No women, jews, muslims, poor-people or non-land owners, amongest the founders, who were rich white men."

    Dude, are you kidding me?

    In the time period in question NONE of those groups--except in the locations where they were the majority would have allowed any of the others to have much of a say either.

    How big a say in things did Christians have in Muslim lands in that time period? How about women?

    Rich people? Seriously--so the "poor" in OTHER lands had an equal say with the rich and powerful?

    Sure you might come up with an exception but in MOST places the rich and landed ruled while the poor had little say.

    Women were/are kept largely as chattel in most of the muslim world--as of this post they are litterally puuting GPS trackers on women in Saudi Arabia so they can always be located--and can't get away. Yet you chose to indict people that didn't have running water or the light bulb as not quite as enlightened in their social policy as people living in 2012.

    In terms of the Indians---you want to talk about solten lands and suffering? You might want to check the treatment that the Huron received at the hands of Algonquin Confederation. Two wrongs certainly DON'T make a right--but perhaps just little recognition of equally tragic and bloody acts might be warrented......if one were interested in being fair.

    Interesting to note that in your equally hate filled screed on Beck etc. (and I'm no fan of the man) that you simply ASSERT that he said this and that but presented no actual quotes or references.

    Also odd in the extreme that you chose to mock Beck for his relgious faith while at the same time invoking REV. Martin Luther King--last time I checked REV kinda means King was a BELIVER in God.

    Also odd was your seeming "put down" of Palin being married to a "vet." Last time I checked John Kerry--when not admitting to personally commiting war crimes (look it up--he admitted he personally committed war crimes) used his status as a "vet" to base an entire politcal career.

    Like I said....weird.

    I could go on....but why bother.

    People are free to hold what ever opinions they wish---but they really should be a little more focused with their facts.


Because of many spam comments, we have had to add comment moderation.I agree with Pooh, "Oh bother!" Please be patient.