March 23, 2007

History and faith

Before I left for vacation, I found this article about conservative Christians and history. Clarkson's argument is that the religious right distorts history and does so on purpose to justify their own political movement. The historical revisionism is rather stark, I must say, as they note about Jamestown:
"John Blanchard claims that the Jamestown landing signifies that, 'We were started as a Christian nation and I feel it's God's purpose we stay a Christian nation.' Indeed, to read The Assembly 2007 web site, one would think that the King had sent missionaries to Virginia. Far from it. The London Company behind the venture pooled investors interested in making money. For years, it floundered badly. Eventually, the company gave up the commercial charter and control reverted to the Crown. The gauzy view of Christians claiming the land for Christ and King is clarified by history."
And this revisionist view goes well beyond the founders and often is just revealed by people who clearly don't understand any historical context. I found this from Chuck Baldwin, who besides being a conservative is also evidently a preacher. Baldwin is convinced that feminism is ruining America:
Feminism - Feminism Destroying America: "In just over three decades, the feminist movement has completely uprooted and rewritten the norm for American family life. No longer are women seen as nurturers and helpmeets. The push for 'equality' has done much more than move America's women from the kitchen to the boardroom; it has moved them from under the arm and next to the side of their husbands to, in many cases, a place of independence from, and lordship over, them."

Sigh. No understanding, or even curiosity about the past. Everyone assumes that 19th century middle class women all doted on their children and did domestic work. No sense that women have been battling for some level of autonomy for a long, long time. And really, what you see is simply an angry white male who doesn't understand that things have changed.

But that isn't all. From his main site, you can find a wonderful little sermon entitled Truth about the Confederate Battle Flag:
You see the Confederate flag has never stood as a racist symbol. If you want racism, you go to the Stars and Stripes. In the South, although there was separation, the blacks respected the whites and the whites respected the blacks. And I will tell you this, there was no trouble in the South back then nor in the 1960's until the North came down and started stirring up trouble. So the Confederate flag is not a racist flag. Secondly tonight, the Confederate flag is not a flag of slavery. It does not represent slavery. Are you listening to me tonight? There was not one slave ever brought into this country under the Confederate flag. Every slave that was brought into this country was brought in by Northern ships under the Stars and Stripes. There was not even a slave brought into this country on a Southern vessel! The slaves were brought into this country on Northern vessels under the Stars and Stripes.
Slavery was the North's fault. And racism in the South didn't exist until Northerners came in and told them what to do. He is correct on one point--there is no doubt that Northerners were complicit in slavery and for most of the 19th century relatively indifferent to slavery and then to Southern racism.

I am afraid all of this is part and parcel of the religious right's revisionist history. Feminism is evil, Jamestown was godly, and the South wasn't racist. No wonder these people love Ann Coulter (loves Joe McCarthy) and Michelle Malkin (defender of Japanese internment).



Tony said...

One comment I do want to make though I want to mull over other parts of the post, which by the way, stop cramming so much in one post for crying out loud, OK?

I remember Zell Miller back several years ago trying to get the confederate element removed from the GA state flag but the attempt failed because of a great outcry that many were "preserving GA history."

His response was that they were fostering more racism and bigotry because though the confederate flag may not have stood for those things then, they certainly do now.

The flag was compromised in '01 by Zell's successor with a historical walk-thru of each era's flag in a mini version.

I always find it telling that every redneck in VA with an obnoxiously loud pickup jacked six feet in the air seems to have a confederate flag somewhere plastered on it or flying from the antenna. Yeah, they're preserving history.

Tony said...

One correction: too tired to post last night, should have waited till clearer.

I said, "the confederate flag may not have stood for those things then, they certainly do now."

I should have said, "the confederate flag stood for those things then and it does more so now."

Streak said...

No worries, Tony, we knew what you meant. What I love about the confederate flag issue is how many people assert it as tradition and heritage. Funny how most of those traditions and heritage were resurrected when African Americans dared to ask for silly little things like the right to vote, or access public facilities.

No doubt that racism is a problem well beyond the South, but many in the South sicken me. Add to that the Religious leaders like Tony Perkins who align themselves with such racism, and you can see just one more reason why I have no tolerance for the religious political right.