(Blog Updated –March 19, 2014: You may notice that the link to “the school system’s web page” no longer works. In addition, it appears the tweet announcing this event was removed from Pike Schools Twitter feed. At the moment, the link to “the flyer” is still active.
I haven’t received any communication from any party about this event or blog post. I can only assume Pike County Schools removed the material from its site. I’ve suspected all along that most people in Pike County who were initially involved in this event didn’t really understand the group behind it.)
The Pike County Republican Party is sponsoring an event entitled “The Making of America Seminar & Constitution Workshop”. It’s amazing how aggressively this event is being promoted. Even I have been invited to go. I read it about it on Pike County Schools Twitter feed. It’s even on the school system’s web page.
I wonder how many people have taken the time to read the flyer inviting people to the event, taken note of the organization giving the lecture — The National Center for Constitutional Studies — and decided to check them out? I did. I’ve learned to check out the source of anything I read these days. It’s not that hard — once you learn how. Let me show you.
My first step is invariably to check Wikipedia. (That must be the reason my conservative friends hate Wikipedia so much.) But it’s just a starting place. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about the National Center for Constitutional Studies.
“The National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS) is a conservative, religious-themed constitutionalist organization, founded by Latter-Day Saint political writer Cleon Skousen. It was formerly known as The Freemen Institute.”
The great thing about Wikipedia (or any other online source) is that they have links that allow you to seek further information. In Wikipedia’s case, you can obtain internal or external information. In other words, more detailed information is on Wikipedia’s own site but it also provides links to other web sites.
For instance, if you didn’t realize that “Latter-Day Saint” was the official name of the Mormon church, you could click on the link and educate yourself. There is also a link to “Cleon Skousen”, and we’ll get to that in a minute. For now, let’s look a little deeper into the Wikipedia entry with this paragraph header.
“In 1987, controversy erupted in California over the NCCS-published and Cleon Skousen-authored textbook The Making of America. The book quoted a 1934 essay on slavery by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fred Albert Shannon that described black children as “pickaninnies”; another section stated that life for white Southerners was “a nightmare” due to “the constant fear of slave rebellion”, and claimed that white slave owners were “the worst victims of slavery”. “
I bet you’ll follow along with me when I start quoting the entry on Mr. Skousen. But we’re still not done with this entry. Keep in mind, we’ve already bypassed dozens of links with even more information on this outfit — this outfit that is coming to Pike County and is being advertised with your tax dollars on Pike County School’s web page.
“The NCCS has found a number of new organizational allies among Constitutionalist groups such as the John Birch Society, the Eagle Forum, and the Oath Keepers. Additionally, in the media, the NCCS has found a powerful voice in the form of Glenn Beck, who is a Mormon himself and used his Fox News platform to advocate for NCCS books and ideas. “
I’m going to assume you know who Glenn Beck is. Many of you probably don’t know of the John Birch Society — “The society has been described as “ultraconservative”, “far right”, and “extremist”“. You most likely haven’t heard of the Oath Keepers — “that advocates that its members (current and former U.S. military and law enforcement) disobey any orders that they are given if they believe they violate the Constitution of the United States.“. I encourage you to click on the links provided and read all about both of them.
These are the organizational forces behind this “workshop” that is coming to Pike County. The workshop that is charging $20 per ticket. You might want to ask yourself where that money goes and who it helps. But let’s move on to Mr. Cleon Skousen’s Wikipedia entry.
“After losing his police job, Skousen founded a group called the All-American Society, which Time magazine described in 1961 as an “exemplar of the far-right ultras.” Throughout the 1960s, Skousen was also admired by members and leaders of the John Birch Society, although members of the more mainstream conservative movement and the American Security Council snubbed him out of fear that his controversial views would hurt the credibility of the conservative movement.”
“In 1981, the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Skousen was asked to be a charter member of the conservative think tank the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of books.”
“While Skousen was alive, many of his ideas were met with fierce criticism, while his pronouncements made him “a pariah among most conservative activists”. In one instance, the constitutional scholar Jack Rakove, of Stanford University, inspected Skousen’s books and seminars and pronounced them “a joke that no self-respecting scholar would think is worth a warm pitcher of spit.” A 1971 review in the Mormon journal Dialogue also accused Skousen of “inventing fantastic ideas and making inferences that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary,” and also of promoting concepts that were “perilously close” to Nazism.”
The are dozens of links within those three quotes alone. I encourage you to visit the Wikipedia entry for yourself and follow as many as time will allow. For now, let’s move on to Mr. Lester Pearce, the individual that will be conducting the “workshop” right here in Pike County. There’s nothing on Wikipedia about him so, I Googled him.
Click that link and watch how easy it is to Google something. (If you haven’t ever tried “Let Me Google That For You”, it’s fun. Trust me. Click on the link above and watch.)
The third link in the search (your search results might be different) was from “The Atlantic” magazine. I’ve learned to trust them over the years so I clicked on that one.
“Our instructor is Lester Pearce, Arizona Justice of the Peace and brother of Russell Pearce, author of that state’s harshly anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070.”
I don’t have the resources to make absolutely sure the Lester Pearce in this piece is the Lester Pearce that is coming to Pike County to lecture us on the Constitution but I’m pretty sure he is.
“We are in the basement of Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va. It is Saturday, October 23, ten days before the midterm elections. A group of 50 patriots has gathered for a seminar of “The Making of America,” presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. NCCS, headquartered in Malta, Idaho, sends speakers across the country to reveal the truth that liberal elites have hidden about the American form of government. The seminar is sponsored by four local groups–a Constitution-oriented meetup in Purcellville, Va., the Loudoun Patriots Organization, the Virginia Conservative Party, and the Loudon County Republican Women’s Club.”
Yep, I’m pretty certain he’s one and the same.
“Given that curiosity, it’s quite striking that the seminar, which begins at 8:30 a.m., takes until 1:30 to get to the actual Constitution.
That’s because we have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the “ancient constitution” of the Anglo-Saxons.”
Please, go read the whole article for yourself. It’s amazing. (I’ve found a different flyer about the event that says a Mr. Earl Taylor will be the instructor for this event. It makes no difference, there’s an article about him too.)
I’m willing to bet there are some people in Pike County (actually, in every county in America) that are all too willingly to believe all that. (Sorry if I spoiled the seminar for you but I bet I saved you $20 bucks.) However, I believe most of the citizens have (how shall I say it?) a more reality-based education of history and the U.S. Constitution. And I bet they would want their school system to stick to that reality-based history — not promoting some extreme right-wing, religious instruction masquerading as a “workshop”.
If you’re tired of the extremists that have thrived under the one-party rule of the Republican Party in Pike County and Georgia, do something about it. You can try reforming that party (good luck with that) or you can join us. But for heaven’s sake, stop giving these people your hard-earned money. Stop voting for them. And the next time someone hands you a flyer or sends you an article, take a moment to check out who wrote it.
Don Brown — Chairman
The Democratic Party of Pike County