Michael Gaynor
Glenn Beck's "real" history trumps radical historians' revisionist history
By Michael Gaynor
June 8, 2010

"Progressive" professors like Palermo are "on the warpath" against Beck, and the main reason IS "specific content": Beck poses a significant threat to progressivism, political correctness, moral relativism and multiculturalism, the pillars of those "progressive" professors' life.

As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Radicals think everyone is entitled to their opinion and their "facts," not the truth and the right to judge for themselves based on the actual facts.

Like the late Senator Robert Kennedy, Glenn Beck tends to be loved or hated. Some of Beck's opinions are controversial, but what really upsets the rabid radicals are the facts, especially historical facts, that Beck has shared with an audience hungry for truth and starved by an "educational" system designed to indoctrinate and a liberal media establishment determined to tell people what to think and how to feel since Beck moved from CNN to Fox News.

As the old sayings go, a wise man can learn from a fool but a fool cannot learn from a wise man and a broken clock is right twice a day. Glenn Beck alternately plays a buffoon and a wise man. When he plays the buffoon, he irritates me, because his critically important message should be presented seriously, not comicly. When Beck plays the wise man, he infuriates many radical professional historians, because he presents facts they either ignore or deny or denigrate.

Beck gets that Obama is bringing socialism to America and is despised as well as cheered for saying so. It is not a surprise that President Obama replaced the bust of Winston Churchill kept in the Oval Office with one of Abraham Lincoln. Even though Lincoln was a Republican, he taught the lesson that the stealth socialists needed to (and did) learn: ""The Philosophy of the school room in one generation...will be the Philosophy of Government in the next." Churchill described socialism as "the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy."

President Harry S Truman, a Democrat, appreciated the danger posed by secular extremist stealth socialist.


"The most important business in this Nation — or any other nation, for that matter-is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don't think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child's mind the moral code under which we live.

"The fundamental basis of this Nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days.

"If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state."

Truman would not be an Obama Democrat!

Associate professor Joseph Palermo of California State/Sacramento may be an ardent environmental, but he surely showed himself to be green with envy in "Glenn Beck: 'Historian" for a Troubled America" (www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-a-palermo/glenn-beck-historian-for_b_591353.html?page=5&show_comment_id=48607576#comment_48607576):

"The Reverend Jerry Falwell's Liberty University recently conferred upon Glenn Beck an honorary doctorate in the humanities. It's official: Beck is now a doctor of philosophy. Liberty University's honoring of Beck is fitting because he has clearly established himself as Fox News's resident 'historian,' with his area of expertise being American civilization, with emphases on the early republic, Progressivism, and the New Deal. Glenn Beck, Ph.D. makes about $1 million a month, earning him the distinction of being the highest paid 'historian' in the world."

Palermo then demeaned Beck as "the most influential promoter of the Jonah Goldberg/Amity Shlaes contention that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal were unmitigated 'calamities' for the country," charged that "Beck, Goldberg, Shlaes and others seem to be pursuing a long-term project of their own to misinform their rather gullible audiences into believing that anytime a government imposes limits on the ability of private business (especially giant corporations) to exploit the country's land and labor it is an attack on individual 'liberty'" and derisively dismissed "Beck's views" as "not only stupid and false, but dangerous."

To Palermo and his ilk, they ARE dangerous, but not because they are "stupid and false."

Palermo demonstrated his own enormous legal ignorance and blatant secular extremist bias in this feeble attempt to denigrate Beck for publicizing some historical facts not taught in school these days:

"But one of Dr. Beck's main pet peeves is his belief that the 'founders' intended the United States to be a Christian nation and the idea of a 'wall of separation' between church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberal elites. It's not that Beck is wrong about the ambiguity of the personal beliefs on the subject by the founders, but he and others like him are monumentally wrong by overstating the relevance of the intent of 18th Century views on the thought and practices of 20th and 21st Century America."

No. Professor Palermo. Beck's RIGHT about the Founders, the Constitution and America's religious heritage. The First Amendment hasn't been amended since it was adopted in the 18th century, so "the intent of 18th Century views" IS relevant and foreign law is not.

In 1823, Thomas Jefferson opined in a private letter how constitutional meaning should be ascertained: "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it passed."

The initial United States Supreme Court decisions adopted the same approach.

In Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), Jefferson's cousin, Chief Justice John Marshall, endorsed natural construction of the Constitution, since "the enlightened patriots who framed our Constitution, and the people who adopted it, must be understood to have employed words in their natural sense, and to have intended what they said."

Moreover, Chief Justice Marshall wrote in 1833: "The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations to it." Marshall's statement was essentially true. Marshall understood that Americans were a people of faith whose government needed to recognize it and that the institutional separation of church and state provided in the Constitution and the First Amendment meant that the federal government was prohibited from establishing a national church, but not that God was unwelcome in the public square or religious values should not inform public policy.

Palermo: "Gordon S. Wood, in a June 2006 edition of The New York Review of Books, writes: 'We can't solve our current disputes over religion by looking back to the actual historical circumstances of the Founding; those circumstances are too complex, too confusing, and too biased toward Protestant Christianity to be used in courts today, and most of them are remote from or antagonistic to the particular needs of the twenty-first century. We do not, and cannot, base American constitutional jurisprudence on the historical reality of the Founding. . . . What Founders' intent should we choose to emphasize? That of the deistic Jefferson and Madison? Or that of the churchgoing Washington and Adams, with their sympathies for religion? Or that of the countless numbers of evangelical Protestants who captured control of the culture to an extent most of the Founding elite never anticipated?"

The Founders included both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses in the First Amendment and they never intended for the Establishment Clause to be read as broadly as it was after World War II.

In the mid nineteenth century, both houses of Congress considered and rejected a secular extremist challenge to the constitutionality of the military chaplaincy.

After careful study, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a report explaining the Establishment Clause:

"The clause speaks of 'an establishment of religion.' What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to the establishment which existed in the mother country, its meaning is to be ascertained by ascertaining what that establishment was. It was the connection with the state of a particular religious society, by its endowment, at public expense, in exclusion of, or in preference to, any other, by giving to its members exclusive political rights, and by compelling the attendance of those who rejected its communion upon its worship, or religious observances. These three particulars constituted that union of church and state of which our ancestors were so justly jealous, and against which they so wisely and carefully provided...."

The report further stated that the Founders were "utterly opposed to any constraint upon the rights of conscience" and therefore they opposed the establishment of a religion in the same manner that the church of England was established. But, the Founders "had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people....They did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of 'atheistic apathy.' Not so had the battles of the revolution been fought, and the deliberations of the revolutionary Congress conducted."

A similar House Judiciary Committee report explained that "an establishment of religion" was a term of art with a specific meaning:

"What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed, defining what a man must believe; it must have rights and ordinances, which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications, to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive, and penalties for the nonconformist. There never was an establishment of religion without all these."

In 1947, in Everson v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court arbitrarily disregarded history and misconstrued the Constitution at the urging of the tiny secular extremist minority and the expense of the overwhelming religious majority. It ruled that neither federal nor state governments "can pass laws which aid...all religions...."

Like Plessy v. Ferguson, it was an egregious judicial error. Unlike Plessy v. Ferguson, it has not yet been corrected and thus continues to damage the body politic.

Unsurprisingly, Palermo tried to justify Everson.

Palermo: "In the modern era the Supreme Court had little choice but to build on the idea of a 'wall' between church and state, not because the learned men at the dawn of the Enlightenment had expressed their own contradictory views on the subject, but because of the social pressures and prerogatives of the contemporary period the Justices themselves were living through. The United States Constitution is a 'living document' no matter how often Beck and others repeat the lie that it isn't."

So many people who insist that a fetus is not living for purposes of having the inalienable human right to life neverthelsss insist that the Constitution is a "living documents." I checked it at the U.S. Archives. It's amendable in accordance with prescribed terms, but it's NOT alive.

The United States Supreme Court was not intended to be a super legislature to decide whether to build or demolish walls. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 78, made that abundantly clear: "Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment...."

Palermo: "Beck, in all his disquisitions about the founders' intent and the church/state divide, never mentions the social and political context of 18th Century America that informs his interpretation. He never engages his esteemed colleagues among academic historians preferring instead to dismiss the whole profession as part of the liberal-Democratic-progressive elite that is trying to impose its godless agenda."

Unfortunately, Beck's right about that too. That's exactly what "the liberal-Democratic-progressive elite" have been trying to do. Those allegedly "esteemed" academic historians have been revising history or oblivious to the revision of history to make secularism the national religion.

In misinterpreting the Establishment Clause, the United States Supreme Court misused a statement by Thomas Jefferson in an 1802 letter to a Baptist group that "the whole American people...declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state." Jefferson's much quoted statement has been misinterpreted as a prohibition against government acknowledging God and supporting religion generally instead of only a protection of churches from governmental interference. But the "wall of separation" that Jefferson contemplated was a wall that keeps government from interfering with religious freedom, not a wall that keeps any religious expression out of schools, courthouses and other public places. Jefferson's own preamble to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom explicitly acknowledged "Almighty God" as "the Holy Author of our religion" and "Lord both of body and mind."

Jefferson did not envision that the institutional separation he had in mind would ever be expanded to prohibit the United States from making reasonable accommodations to religion and recognizing God on its currency, in its courts or in its classrooms. Jefferson's own actions as President demonstrate that his words were misinterpreted. As President, Jefferson attended voluntary and nondiscriminatory religious services held at the Capitol (as did President Madison). In 1803, Jefferson called on Congress to approve a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that provided for the United States to pay a Catholic missionary priest $100 a year. It was not an oversight. Jefferson later recommended two other Indian treaties with similar provisions. Jefferson also extended three times a pre-Constitution act that had designated lands "[f]or the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Brethen missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity." If the United States Supreme Court was right, then Jefferson himself repeatedly violated the establishment clause. But, as the House Judiciary Committee report quoted in my prior article set forth in detail, "an establishment of religion" requires much more.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301) signed by President Herbert Hoover. The last verse is a secular extremist nightmare, for it refers to the United States as "heav'n rescued," calls for praising "the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation" and proclaims that "In God is our trust" should be the motto of the United States. The Founders would not consider that an establishment of religion that an atheist is entitled to veto.

Beck has been infuriating the seculart extremist stealth socialists by providing context to refute the secular extremist misinformation campaign.

Beck distresses Palermo by "assuming the affect of a university professor" as well as by making a lot of money.

Palermo: "...this brings me to the most fascinating aspect of Glenn Beck: Beck as Historian. To explain his novel historical theories to his viewers Beck assumes the affect of a university professor. When Beck sports a tweed-like blazer and rests his spectacles on the tip of his nose, eyes peering over his glasses, he's impersonating the archetype of a professor that is widely familiar in the culture from movies and TV (if not from actual colleges and universities). Even in an era of erasable markers and PowerPoint he uses a chalkboard for heuristic purposes. The semiotician in me sees the chalkboard as far more than a mere stage prop. Given that Fox News has access to the most sophisticated and blaring computer graphics to drive home its political points, Beck's use of the chalkboard is remarkably low-tech (even inside a very high-tech television studio). He's the only TV personality who uses one. The chalkboard signifies scholarship and learning. His studio is transformed into a classroom and his audience becomes a class full of eager students. Beck becomes a professor — specifically, a history professor. Covered in chalk dust and ruffling through his lecture notes, Beck exudes a certain power that derives from the teacher/student relationship that is timeless even though he and his producers are deploying this demeanor as nothing more than a pseudo-educational propaganda tool. Writing in Time magazine recently, Beck's ideological soul mate, Sarah Palin, praised him for exactly this type of professorial playacting. I suppose historians should be flattered that even Fox News recognizes the symbolic influence of our profession."

A radical professor would be familiar with "pseudo-educational propaganda tool[s]," but there's nothing wrong with using a chalkboard! Palermo's real problem is what Beck writes on the chalkboard.

Beck's problem is that he undercuts his effectiveness by playing the buffoon and committing great gaffes (examples, his interview of ACORN national spokesman Scott Leverson and, admittedly, his recent commentary of a conversation President Obama had with his daughter that even Beck's wife told him was very wrong).

Palermo is perturbed that Beck may be effective in combating President Obama's stealth socialism efforts to "fundamentally change" America.

Palermo: "The wide dissemination of Beck's views wouldn't matter much if the United States were in better shape today. But the status quo that is emerging cannot help but create a highly volatile electorate for years to come. Class lines are hardening, mobility is stifled, unemployment will remain near double digits for many years, there is a sea of angry voters who are susceptible to jingoistic appeals and conspiracy theories (like the ones Beck promotes). The ongoing fiscal crisis at the local, state, and federal levels has led to the heartless rollback of public institutions at exactly the time when they are needed the most. And it is in this dreary context where Beck each night on television twists the meaning of the terms 'empathy,' 'progress,' and 'social justice' into buzzwords deployed by those who want to turn the United States into a Nazi/Communist/Socialist/Totalitarian State. No wonder he has become the Joan D'Arc of the Tea Party movement."

Believe it or not, in his article Palermo also chided Beck for...false analogies! Beck's not a woman, a Catholic, French, a warrior or a saint...and he not likely to be burned at the stake (as perhaps Palermo hopes, consciously or subconsciously). To his credit, Beck regularly warns his audience NOT to play into the hands of the Obama administration by resorting to violence.

Bravo to Palermo target Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression and senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, for "University Guild v. Glenn Beck" (www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/06/04/the_university_guild_vs_glenn_beck.html).

In that article Ms. Shlaes reported that Glenn Beck had incurred the wrath of academia for covering history on his shows.

Ms. Shlaes rightly focused on "academic fury directed at [Beck's historical] interpretation"...yet wrongly concluded that "the reason professors are on the attack, is not specific content," but because Beck represents a "professional and, in the end, economic, threat."

Ms. Shlaes explained the structure of academia very well by aptly analogizing to the guild.

Ms. Shlaes: "...our system of higher education is a throwback to medieval economics: a guild. As in the classic guild, members require a lengthy period of training, with formal stages. To be in any way authoritative, a writer must have a Ph.D., a guild seal. Members of this guild have enormous discretion when it comes to the conferring of the seal — also typical. In the humanities and social sciences, Ph.D.s. and, it goes without saying, tenure-track posts — are usually awarded to those not hostile to the master professors' views. For many decades top universities have been especially rigorous in this practice, with the result that it is difficult to find non-progressives with top credentials in the humanities."

Itonically, progressives are outraged if minorities are "underrepresented" among police officers and fire fighters, but fine with minorities "overrepresented" among professional athletes or progressives "overrepresented" in academia.

Conservatives constitute about 8% of the Harvard Law School faculty, about one-fifth of the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as conservatives and that's about the same percentage as the supposed friend of conservatives Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan hired during her Harvard Law School deanship.

Wendy Long, "The Myth of Kagan and Conservatives" (May 21, 2009) (http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/50126/myth-kagan-and-conservatives/wendy-long):

"On the eve of stepping down from Harvard, Kagan sent alumni a memo about the major developments at the law school while she was dean from 2003-2009. The memo said that 43 faculty members were hired during Kagan's five years, bringing the total number of faculty members to a count of 101. "Only 3 out of the 43 professors Kagan hired are conservative- or libertarian-leaning.... That means only 7% of Kagan's faculty hires were conservatives.

"Not exactly a huge percentage. Overall, the Harvard Law faculty only has, at most, 8 conservative- or libertarian-leaning professors....

"That means only 8% of the faculty under Kagan was conservative. Again, not exactly huge numbers when considered in percentage terms."

"Progressive" professors like Palermo are "on the warpath" against Beck, and the main reason IS "specific content": Beck poses a significant threat to progressivism, political correctness, moral relativism and multiculturalism, the pillars of those "progressive" professors' life.

Apparently Ms. Shlaes does not appreciate it because she considers the progressive professors "serene yodas."

As one who followed closely and wrote extensively about the so-called Duke lacrosse rape case from the start and realized early that the charges against the Duke Three were bogus, the prosecutor was a persecutor playing politics for personal gain and the Duke administration and many of the Duke professors were opportunistic "progressives" behaving despicably, I respectfully suggest that Ms. Shlaes read Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and The Shameful injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson, particularly chapters 8, 9 and 10 — "Academic McCarthyism," "Politically Correct Sensationalism" and "Richard Brodhead's Test of Courage." Duke President Brodhead failed that test abysmally. The "Gang of 88" (Duke faculty) were NOT "serene yodas."

President Obama supporter Professor William Ayers of the University of Chicago was neither serene nor Yoda-like either.

The truth is that the "progressives" who could not prevail politically in the United States in the 1960's and 1970's proceeded to subvert America by creating ACORN (1970) and working to dominate America's education system and the movie and television industry. In 2008 the result was a financial crisis and the election of a rookie United States Senator with no military or executive experience but considerable talents for appearing non-threatening, being vague, and reading from a tele-prompter as president. (It's NOT a surprise that many hopeful and uninformed Americans were eager to try to put national racial prejudice problems behind them by electing the first black president (since that young Senator was, as now Vice President Joe Biden told us in 2008, "clean" and well spoken, and contrasted sharply with previous black president hopefuls Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and his elderly Republican opponent, Senator John McCain.

In 2009, Beck was played by "progressive" Obamaton Marcel Reid, a former ACORN national board member and the head of both DC ACORN and the little ACORN 8 group that futilely vied for control of ACORN.

This year Beck may have finally realized that Ms. Reid is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The more learned Beck gets, the bigger a threat he is to the "progressives"!

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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