If you think a bit first; reconsider the delusions of some of those who attempt to lead or “educate” us, like the Geico Gecko you’d know better than to stand behind them…
Afternoons I tire of a screechy hostess on Left Talk and the same old, same tiresome regurgitated talking points over at Con gushing out of marginally different sounding mouths, so I go to POTUS: a stream offered by Sirius. Often it’s Pete Dominick. I feel comfortable with him. He doesn’t seem to be overly one-sided, or partisan. He’s from Syracuse area. I used to hang around Syracuse when I went to college in Utica, NY and met my wife from New Hartford, so I suspect there may be some regional familiarity there. We’re both from New York originally. Although if you live south of Harriman; like I did as a youngster before Bill Carman returned to the family homeland known as the Adirondacks, you might pronounce it more like “Nu-Yawk.”
Pete had Newt Gingrich on this last week.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Newt Gingrich has been doing the talking head show circuit again. Now I feel some regional familiarity with him too, since I hang around Marietta, Georgia occasionally and he, like quite a few Atlanta region-ites, doesn’t seem too “South.” Seems like he was raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Eh, not that far away, culturally.
Over the years as Newt returned to that circuit again and again, somehow he has retained, and even gained, more gravitas than pretty much any one else from the 80s who went through their own scandals. Newt, a college professor… subject: History… is quite interesting to listen to when he lectures regarding his beloved history, and that’s why he’s during the tour. He has written yet another book, this one regarding our forefathers. But when he tries to inject religion into our founding documents his professor persona gets swallowed by his obvious partisan skew.
This separates him not one iota from his “intellectual” brethren and sister-en like Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin, Coulter. Whenever Newt switches to his partisan view of things by conflating his own opinions with the forefathers I keep imagining he’s about to enter the chamber in The Fly. He always seems to come out just like that misguided scientist: part human, part fly and all wrong.
Newt is the kind of intellectual that put the facade of “legit” on the movement so the barn burners can continue spreading accelerants. He knows just how to get Right Wing bobble-heads bobbing, and less sophisticated thinkers to mimic a snagged bass: swallowing his “wisdom” hook, line, sinker, pole and fishing reel.
Newt claims that because the Declaration uses “endowed by their Creator” the forefathers meant God, and only God, gives us rights. When questioned his retort is, “Then who?” The answer is simple, “No one.”
If we are to believe most of our forefathers and the intellectual-theological skew they had: they exist naturally: part of Creation.
Being a history professor, and obviously well educated and studied regarding history and especially American history, I find it puzzling that Mr. Gingrich would even suggest such, considering our forefathers were deists… unless of course the object is to stroke some religious base that keeps the Right Wing in power and buckaroos.
Newt would never expose himself by performing that form of political-theological self manipulation in public, would he?
Hmmm… tantrums because a president won’t give him his undivided attention during a funeral, shutting down the government in an attempt to bully a president into anything and everything he wanted, getting rid of a politically troublesome wife who may be on her deathbed for a more politically and financially advantageous one, hiding his own affairs while ranting on about a president’s inappropriate sexual trysts…
All that is so tawdry, so let’s get to the philosophical core of the matter. Why would our forefathers have used “Creator” if they didn’t mean “God?” I suspect Mr. Gingrich would like us to believe, or at least a portion of the Neo Con base to believe, because they agreed with the Fundamentalist’s version of a Christian God.
Yes, the majority of our forefathers were neither atheist or agnostic. But they weren’t even what would be considered these days to be your standard theists. They were deists. Whether you consider deism a form of theism… like I do, or something that deserves its own category like some do, what deists believed is crucial to this discussion, as I’m sure Newt knows. No one I know would claim he’s ignorant historically.
n. The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
So Mr. Gingrich is probably being more than a little deceptive with “if not God, who?” The term “endowed” relates directly to design, as in creation and what a Creator would do. Most likely that’s why they used “Creator” rather than God, plus “Creator” is more vague and can be accepted by a wider base, faith-wise. You know, like those Mr. Gingrich’s religious base might find offensive? But if they meant “God,” wouldn’t they have used “God,” or even “God as represented by his son, Jesus Christ?”
No, creation… to the deist, was designed that way. That’s how we were “endowed.” But the religious right believes more in a Santa like being where everything is a personal gift.
While this all fits in well with the misguided efforts over the years to spread the wrong headed myth that our forefathers were devoted Christians of the fundamentalistic kind, let’s step back from that for a second. It also misrepresents the Constitution and the Declaration in a very politically convenient way,
The Constitution does not “give rights.” Indeed it even explicitly mentions that all rights not mentioned belong to the people. When the Bill of Rights was proposed objections were raised that the “any other rights belong to the people” provision would be circumvented because, get this, opponents said this would make people claim that the Constitution would have to specifically mention a right for it to be a right. Silly opponents. That would never happen, right? But supposedly wiser heads prevailed because it was felt these specific rights were so important they should be mentioned, emphasized, highlighted if you wish, by a Bill of Rights. After all, these were the grievances tossed at a tyrant they wished to be free from.
Ah, sometimes “wiser” heads are not as wise as they think they are, are they?
But when making an argument with a King quite public, any deist would certainly use the argument that the Creator designed our rights into creation. Yet even if we went all atheist on this, the logic still applies. Our rights exist naturally. We can do anything we want, until our neighbor decides not.
Now here’s the hard part. Our documents do not give us rights. We are considered to have them even if they haven’t been mentioned. Our documents take them away, while limiting how many can be taken away. That’s why the Bill of Rights was so controversial. And those who opposed it obviously had a point: they have led to claims made by forgetful progeny that these documents “give rights.”
Any decent form of governance limits rights. Otherwise we might think we have the right to murder, to steal… not that many haven’t argued and won those rights. If a CEO makes a decision to market something their tech department knows is toxic or might easily kill, and many citizens die… how many out there expect to see them in a few years with a needle in their arm, at the end of a rope or in an electrified chair. Raise your hands!
The problem is the majority of the populace either isn’t able, or willing, to look under these rocks, to dive deeper into the issues, and understand such things. I don’t blame them. I blame people like Mr. Gingrich who spend some time educating, and the rest deceiving for political gain.
But to be clear, I think we’d have more luck buying religious concepts regarding our forefathers from the Geico Gecko than a Newt.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved
Good column. I never understood the idea of deism before, thanks for the definition. And the part about the bill of rights – eye opening.
this is one of the best i’ve read on this page. i’ll be back to see if the rest gets better.