We the People
The far right has stolen the Constitution. It is ours to take back.
David Gothard / www.davidgothard.com
In October I spent a crisp Saturday in the windowless basement of a suburban Virginia church attending a seminar titled “The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution.” I was told that the Constitution is based on the Law of Moses; that Mosaic law was brought to the West by the ancient Anglo-Saxons, who were probably the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; and that the Constitution restores the fifth-century kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons.
The instructor, an Arizona judge named Lester Pearce, also declared that virtually all of modern American life and government is unconstitutional. Social Security, the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hate crime laws—all flatly violate God’s law. State governments are not required to observe the Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment establishes “the religion of America,” which is “nondenominational” Christianity.
Pearce’s brother is Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of the anti-immigrant law SB 1070. So it wasn’t surprising that Lester tended to digress about how he cracks down on Mexican immigrants in court. More astounding was that he had the rapt attention of 50 attendees—earnest citizens who had come to learn about their country’s Constitution.
And what they were being taught was poisonous rubbish.
Americans today are frightened and disoriented. In the midst of uncertainty, they are turning to the Constitution for tools to deal with crisis. The far right is responding to this demand by feeding their fellow citizens mythology and lies.
The seminar I attended was organized by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. Nestled securely in Malta, Idaho (population 177), the NCCS was the Cold War brainchild of the late W. Cleon Skousen, a prominent John Bircher. The center’s revisionist ideology and, in particular, its educational programs are touted on the air by Fox firebrand Glenn Beck. Across the country, civic groups, school districts, and even some city governments have been persuaded to sponsor daylong seminars by the self-proclaimed “nonpartisan” organization.
Skousen’s 900-page tome The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, published more than 25 year ago, is currently number five on Amazon’s Constitutional History Bestseller List. Popular authors Thomas Woods Jr. and Kevin Gutzman, in their book Who Killed the Constitution?, argue that Brown v. Board of Education should be overturned. Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano recently called the popular election of senators “the only part of the Constitution that is itself unconstitutional.” A gathering of conservative law professors and activists at the 2010 convention of the Federalist Society, after gloating about the right-wing triumph in the off-year elections, advocated calling a constitutional convention to strip Congress of its current powers. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor supports a constitutional amendment to permit the state legislatures to repeal federal laws.
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