Beck, Right and Wrong
Ultra-conservative television commentator Glenn Beck got the big idea right last week. But he stumbled badly on some of the key points in his analysis.
Beck was right on when he attacked the Congressional leaders who arranged a reading of the Constitution and then left out significant parts. Among the omissions were the original article that declared slaves equivalent to three-fifths of a vote and the amendment that forced Prohibition upon the land.
Beck said the sponsors of the reading were “cowards” for allowing the omissions “because they didn’t want to offend anybody.” I think descriptors such as “misguided” or “stupid” might have been better fits.
The whole concept of the reading was ridiculous. The representatives must take an oath to uphold the Constitution and many ran on platforms in the recent elections pledging to follow it literally, so we might assume they had a glimmering of an idea about what it says. The fact that only a couple dozen stayed around for the conclusion of the wasted hour and a half of reading testifies to that.
The sponsors of the reading did not exactly rewrite history, but they certainly twisted it seriously with the omissions. Any sort of historical revisionism is deplorable, whether it covers up the fact of slavery in our nation or takes the form of censorship of textbooks in Texas. Whether Beck was correct or not in charging there was an element of “political correctness” in the Congressional action, I stand with him in condemning revisionism for any reason.
An earlier news report said a publisher was in the process of issuing a “cleansed” version of Mark Twain’s classic “Huckleberry Finn.” More than one student of American literature believes this book is among the greatest American novels. Why? Because Twain was the first to abandon the stilted formal English of earlier novelists and have his characters speak the language as common people of the day did.
So now a publisher intends to rewrite the sentences in which Huck calls his friend Jim a nigger? Rubbish, I say. Not one word should be altered.
To wind up his tirade against the Congressional leaders, Beck obsessed about the value of the Constitution: “this document is great for one reason: they left in the scars.”
Poppycock. Our Constitution is great because of the foresight of its authors in creating a government with checks and balances and guarantees of basic freedoms that is flexible enough to accommodate changes in society, yet has kept would-be religious or political dictators from seizing control of our nation for more than 200 years. Scars have nothing to do with it.