American history has been in the news a bit lately, with the Republican National Committee denouncing Advanced Placement history curricula for high-school students and Rush Limbaugh writing a book that “tells the story of a fictional history teacher named Rush Revere, who travels back in time to experience the pilgrims’ journey to America and their first Thanksgiving in the New World.”
But Andrew Kaczynski reported yesterday on right-wing pastor Jody Hice, who’ll soon replace Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) in Congress, and who knows a lot less about history than he pretends to know.
Hice represents an anti-gay viewpoint based on pseudo-science and seriously outdated myths about gay Americans. He also really loves freedom. He calls himself a “constitutional conservative” and LOVES the Founding Fathers. […]“I have one plan: the Constitution. If we were following this document we wouldn’t have the problems that we’re facing today,” Hice has said.Hice also loves to naturally share Founding Fathers quotes. Unfortunately, many of them are fake.
Kaczynski’s list is surprisingly long. Jody Hice posted fake quotes – which he apparently believed to be real – from Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and John Quincy Adams. There may have been others, but after highlighting nine quotes that Hice promoted, all of which turned out to be wrong, Kaczynski apparently got tired and stopped looking. And I can’t blame him.
Of course, the common theme from all of the fake historical quotes was predictable: the Founding Fathers, the argument goes, agreed with contemporary far-right, anti-government views. The fake quotes were made up for a reason: modern conservatives call themselves “constitutional conservatives” because they’re convinced they – and they alone – carry the mantle of America’s historic traditions. Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin may be gone, but their legacy lives on in 21st century Republican politics.
Tea Partiers don’t dress up in tri-corner hats because they’re making a fashion statement. They see themselves as the inheritors of the Founding Fathers’ legacy.
Of course, in reality, this is nonsense, which is probably why guys like Hice feel the need to promote historic quotes that are entirely made-up.
Jon Chait recently had a good piece on the subject, noting, “A longstanding conceit of conservative thought, which has returned with new force during the Obama years, is that conservatism is the authentic heir to the vision of the Founders. (See, for example, Paul Ryan’s recent op-ed, which offhandedly describes his own polices, in contrast with President Obama’s, as consistent with ‘the Founders’ vision.’)”
The fact remains, however, that “the Founders were not Tea Partiers.”