13 December 2010

The Self-Blinded Leading the Sighted

God, it’s St. Lucy’s Day already, meaning that the holiday season is considerably advanced, and I don’t have a thing to wear. St. Lucy—bah. You may remember Lucy as the psychotic medieval woman who ripped her own eyes out and sent them to an admirer as a gift. Apparently the guy said he liked them, or something like that. Those were the days, my friend. One of those gay little old-time legends that brighten the spirits in this dark time of year.

Well, my spirits were brightened, anyway, by this strange piece—an instance of the blind presuming to instruct the sighted on the meaning of color. Some Yakima lady named Kara L. Kraemer, it seems, was so incensed by somebody daring to observe that US law was not based on the Bible and never should be, that she set out to instruct him by delivering a few choice quotations from the Founders that she’d apparently dug up from some moldering trash heap somewhere, and—you guessed it, knowing me—she’s included a couple of familiar fakes among them. And, no surprises here either, those that aren’t fake are absolutely irrelevant to the point. Nice job, lady.

She’s got John Dickenson comparing the proposed Constitution to the Bible, in that both have come under attack; she’s got James Wilson repeating the old legal maxim (shot down by Jefferson) that Christianity is part of the common law, and James McHenry pleading for the establishment of a private Bible society in Maryland. She’s got Carroll of Carrollton arguing that people won’t be virtuous on their own without the threat of “wicked eternal misery” or the promise of “good eternal happiness” to goad them on. (He was taking a swipe at the excesses of the French Revolution, by the way.) She’s got Sam Adams comparing the American revolution to the Reformation: “Our Fore-Fathers threw off the Yoke of Popery in Religion; for you is reserved the honor of levelling the popery of Politicks” (a portion of the passage that she omits, incidentally). And she’s got two fakes and one dubious entry: the Washington “god and the bible” concoction, the Patrick Henry “religionists” misattribution, and the dubious Patrick Henry story about the Bible being worth more than all the other books put together that rests on third-hand testimony from an anonymous source. Not a good showing from somebody who pretends to be combating ignorance.

If I were to make a recommendation to Kara Kraemer, it would be that if she wants to combat ignorance she should start with the person closest to her—herself. But like St. Lucy, I’m sure she knows better.

[Update: The article linked to here has changed since I first wrote and then replied to a comment here. The original introduction read only:
In honor of National Bible Week and to combat Stiefel's statement of ignorance, I offer the following quotes from our founders in regard to the Bible:
This is what I was making fun of, not the present more elaborate introduction that gives a coherent (though flawed) explanation for the quotations that follow. The author has also corrected the information about the one Patrick Henry statement, though she has incorrectly attributed the fake Washington "God and the Bible" quotation to Paulding's book (which even if correct would not be a reliable source, what with it being an undocumented children's book and all). Had I first seen the article in its present state I wouldn't have responded as I did, or indeed at all. sbh]


Anonymous said...

I looked at the strange piece you refer to and did not find the author to exactly be incensed. Whoever she was referring to at the beginning of the article said that this country was formed as a secular society as if Christianity played no part in it. I guess that is what she was thinking about when she responded. After all, it was national Bible week or something (never heard of it). For some reason, more and more people believe our country started out as a Christian society. I don't know if the quotes she is using are true or not, but if they are, she's making a case of some kind because the founders sure seemed to talk about the Bible a lot in regard to this country and its citizens. They're all relevant in showing the high regard the founders had for the Bible but If they aren't true, then I imagine she's fooling some people and that has to be stopped.

sbh said...

No, the person quoted did not say that "Christianity played no part in" American society; what he said (quite correctly) was that US law was not "based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments." Piling together a bunch of irrelevant quotations that happen to mention Christianity or the Bible does nothing to counter this; it merely displays the author's abysmal ignorance, especially when she's obviously picked them up from other people rather than her own reading. (If she'd done her own research she wouldn't have copied other peoples' idiotic errors in attribution, the 1956 "religionists" quotation assigned to Patrick Henry being a particularly egregious example.) If you follow my links you can read these selections in their original context from the authors' own works, or in the case of the fakes you can read my debunking of them.

Copyright © 2005-2021