Most of us have heard about the successful efforts of the Texas Board of Education to revise high school history books, claiming they fail to celebrate conservative values. (duh.)
Today, McClatchy, the best news organization working in the US today (formerly Knight-Ridder) expands on the story noting that there’s a movement-wide attempt alter our understanding of our own history. They use five examples. These two are my favorites – the first because it’s preposterous and such an outright lie and the second because Alexander Hamilton, royal pretensions and all, is among my favorites of the Founders.
Reaching for an example of how bad socialism can be, former House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said recently that the people who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607 were socialists and that their ideology doomed them.
“Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow,” he said in a speech March 15 at the National Press Club.
It was a good, strong story, helping Armey, a former economics professor, illustrate the dangers of socialism, the same ideology that he and other conservatives say is at the core of Obama’s agenda.
It was not, however, true.
The Jamestown settlement was a capitalist venture financed by the Virginia Company of London — a joint stock corporation — to make a profit. The colony nearly foundered owing to a harsh winter, brackish water and lack of food, but reinforcements enabled it to survive. It was never socialistic. In fact, in 1619, Jamestown planters imported the first African slaves to the 13 colonies that later formed the United States.
At the same event, Armey urged people to read the Federalist Papers as a guide to the sentiments of the tea party movement.
“The small-government conservative movement, which includes people who call themselves the tea party patriots and so forth, is about the principles of liberty as embodied in the Constitution, the understanding of which is fleshed out if you read things like the Federalist Papers,” Armey said.
Others such as Democrats and the news media, “people here who do not cherish America the way we do,” don’t understand because “they did not read the Federalist Papers,” he said.
A member of the audience asked Armey how the Federalist Papers could be such a tea party manifesto when they were written largely by Alexander Hamilton, who the questioner said “was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government.”
Armey ridiculed the very suggestion.
“Widely regarded by whom?” he asked. “Today’s modern, ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case, in fact, about Hamilton.”
Hamilton, however, was an unapologetic advocate of a strong central government, one that plays an active role in the economy and is led by a president named for life and thus beyond the emotions of the people. Hamilton also pushed for excise taxes and customs duties to pay down federal debt.
In fact, Ian Finseth said in a history written for the University of Virginia, others at the constitutional convention “thought his proposals went too far in strengthening the central government.”
Shame on them all. They’re sloppy ideologues who don’t give a damn about the truth of the country they claim to love.
And shame especially, that they would want to twist that truth so viciously, when we have troops engaged in two wars, especially when it is the 176th day of the ninth year of the War in Afgahnistan.