Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Revising history

Nothing much is happening here. A tremendous storm with hail and lightning has cleared the humidity, mixing sparkling sunshine with cool clear air. A strike by truck drivers is leading to acute shortages of petrol, threatening transport links, though the air traffic controllers have ended their action.

And so, with little much to post about, thoughts turn to history and this rather splendid resource debunking the historical distortions of American Religious Right as they attempt to deal with a somewhat tricky obstacle to their theocratic nationalism, the establishment of the United States as an explicitly secular republic. Instead they argue that the original intentions of the founders of the constitution were for the United States to be a Christian nation. To do so they have to engage with a range of tricks drawn from the revisionist toolbox.

The inestimable Chris Rodda has a series of nine YouTube presentations on her site that are worth watching in full, coolly pointing out the distortions, selective quotations and spurious sensationalisms that are the stock-in-trade of this type of revisionism. One of my favourite moments is when she points to a much-used quotation from a letter from John Adams that suggests that Adams thought that any government was not legitimate without the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The paragraph in which Adams declares that such a view is "all artifice and cunning" is, unsurprisingly, dispensed with, thus making the letter appear to support what it was attacking.

So, if I have any readers left, I suggest you have some fun by watching these presentations in sequence as my lax approach to posting continues. As a taster, here is the first one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fear not! I am always reading...