Thursday, January 13, 2011

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.

6 comments: said...

Sometimes Glenn gets it wrong.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, they say. Now you have used the "N" word and you will probably catch some flack. These days, the truly politically correct don't even like the word Negro which after all means Black in Spanish. Speakers of Spanish still use the term, ending the word with an 'a' if the person in question is a female. Enough of that.

To me the whole thing was more theater than anything, but like the Democrats, the Republicans have a base to please, and it includes the Teaparty. At least it will cost a lot less than some of the things done in the last Congress. I will say this much about the reading, the Constitution includes the ammendments (also read last week...Gabby Giffords read #1) and jurisprudence accumulated since the founding which alter the original text (All this can be found in the U.S. Code of Law, which all government enployees encounter sooner or later).

Christine O'Donnel was criticized when she said the "separation of church and state" was not in the Consitution. Technically, if you only count the original document without ammendments and jurisprudence, it is NOT in the Constitution. The extant interpretation, is thanks to the Warren Court, which reread the first ammendment as "separation...." to which some conservatives object.

People can't have it both ways. Either the Constitution includes the ammendments and jurisprudence i.e., = U.S.C. or it does not. The so-called "later" or contemporary version of the Constitution read last week,is the U.S.C.

Note: Congressman Lewis,(D-Atlanta) who marched with MLK had no problems reading the 13th Ammendment which banned slavery within the U.S. and its territories. It should be obvious that if an ammendment banned slavery it must have existed. Prohibition banned alcohol, which was not in the Constitution, but most of have no problem accepting its existence. But what do I know??

Kay Dennison said...

I agree with you. I am against censorship no matter who does it.

Dick Klade said...

You obviously know a lot, Smidley. As a former federal employee who served as a legislative coordinator a couple of times, I'm quite familiar with the U.S. Code. Also unknown to some folks is how the process of developing regulations after laws are enacted works, and how that may change somewhat the thrust of the original legislation.

I'm not a bit afraid of using an N-word or anything else when it is part of history. However, it is rude, crude, and unaccaptable to call people by any terms they find offensive when there is no reason to do so. said...

Dick, You might fing this interesting. In the study of history we have encountered the word Negro over and over. It can be found in the USC in fact. Also, historical documents use the word and if you are going to write histoy you must reflect the language of the times. ALSO, many "African-Americans" still call themselves Negro. The thought is that as the older generation dies out, that will change. African-American is seen as an upscale label at this point. I would love to see all references to race erased, period, but to deny the name Negro for Huck Finn is ludicrous. Can you imagine Huck telling Jim in his condescending manner that he is an African-American? Whoever dreamed this up is not very cognizant of Twain's intent. What's next, I ask you?

Jhawk 23 said...

I agree with your thoughts on censorship, Dick.

It was a silly waste of time to read the Constitution aloud but OK, if they want to do it, why not? On the other hand, those who insist that there is some religious significance in the "original document" ought to have the guts to be reminded how far from reality that position is.

I missed the reading of the Second Amendment -- I had hoped the strict constructionists might discover therein the words "militia" and "regulated." No such luck, apparently.

Dick Klade said...

Haven't seen any reports of how the reading of the Second Amendment went. However, I'm under the impression that we've had a "well-regulated militia" for some time. It's known as the National Guard.

That probably doesn't matter, however. The most recent Supreme Court ruling on the topic, I think, holds that there is a right to possess arms without reference to the militia wording. The court, however, didn't say what specific types of arms it was referring to.

The American Cocktail Party has a committee working on a position statement regarding gun ownership. It will be awhile before the committee reports its findings.