A Walk In The Constitutional Woods

Ilana Mercer, August 10, 2007

Thomas E. Woods Jr. has some credentials. And I don’t mean his Ivy-League education (a degree from Harvard and three from Columbia), his New York Times bestselling-author status, or his other critically acclaimed books and scholarly publication. I’m referring to the effect the prolific young historian’s Politically Incorrect Guide to American History has had on leftists of the liberal and neoconservative persuasion. The PIGAH united the likes of Adam Cohen (NYT), Glenn Reynolds and Max Boot (morewar.com) in a furious fit of pique.


Woods was quick to embrace their endorsement: “Since in my judgment Max Boot embodies everything that is wrong with modern conservatism, his opposition is about the best endorsement I could have asked for.” Conversely, you would think Woods’s left-liberal detractors would have found merit in a historian who has “never excused the Japanese internment, weaved apologias for mass murder, or casually called for nuclear attacks on civilian targets.” Alas, the left has come along way. Or, as Woods demonstrates in a chapter in his latest book, 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, American liberals have not really been against war over the years.


While “internment chic” hasn’t yet caught on with the left’s philosopher kings (it will, it will), they gurgled with pleasure when Hillary recently vowed to “leave the nuclear option on the table.” (She’s the left’s presidential pick.) As Woods exclaimed when the PIGAH was published:


… I [moreover] join real conservatives and libertarians like Richard Weaver, Felix Morley (one of the founders of Human Events), Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and Pope Pius XII in condemning the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet my left-wing critics seem quite happy to get in bed with defenders of all these things in order to join in their condemnations of my book. Taking a casual view of mass murder is thus morally preferable to having sympathy for the old republic. What more do I need to know about these people?”


Nothing, my friend, absolutely nothing.


At the time, Cohen concluded hysterically that taken to its “logical” conclusion, Woods’s critique of the unconstitutional ratification of the 14th Amendment and its subsequent suspect jurisprudence must logically end with a nullification of the 13th and a revival of slavery. How stark raving mad; as though an amendment is what stands between America and a slavery redux. The 14th, however, does come between Americans and Amendments Nine and 10, which were intended to safeguard individual rights by leaving precious little to the federal government.


David Greenberg, a writer for the History News Network, was especially enraged that in the PIGAH Woods had failed to include African slaves among the founding people of America. Academic historians and their acolytes—Greenberg is professor of a subject that is not a legitimate discipline: journalism—have worked overtime to replace the impartial, non-ideological study of American history and its heroic figures with “history from below.” This post-modern tradition regularly produces works the topics of which include, “Quilting Midwives during the Revolution.” Or, “Hermaphrodites and the Clitoris in Early America.” Along comes an academic historian who openly speaks of the predominantly British Christian origins of the people who established the political order described by Thomas Jefferson as “a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, … derived from natural right and natural reason.” This can’t be good for the establishment’s holy men and their humbugs.


As you well imagine, the libidinized annals of the “Hermaphrodites and the Clitoris in Early America” is not flying off the printing presses; Thomas Woods’s books, including 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, are.


The “33 Questions” allows the reader to home in on topics that are of particular interest, as each discussion is discrete and stands alone. Those of us who flout the libertarian line on immigration, for example, will make a beeline to the chapter titled “Did the Founding Fathers Support Immigration?” The answer is: not really. Hamilton understood intuitively what Harvard scholar Robert Putnam took five years to discover scientifically. Hamilton called it “heterogeneity,” Putnam calls it “diversity.” Either way, it makes people miserable. The difference between Putnam and the founders is that the fathers of the nation loved the American people; they did not delegitimize their ancestry and history by calling them eternal immigrants. John Jay conceived of Americans as “a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and custom.” The very opposite of what their descendants are taught.


Next I wanted to find out whether Bill Clinton really stopped genocide in Kosovo. As a former South African, I had witnessed the axis of evil—American and European liberals—bring that Western stronghold, flawed as it was, to its political and economic knees. I was curious to learn if Kosovo, the beneficiary of bombs, not boycotts, had fared any better. You’ll have to read “33 Questions” to find out, but here’s a clue: my old homeland is now an Islamist-friendly, failed African state; Kosovo is an Islamist-friendly, failed Eurabian state.


I once wrote that “sometimes the law of the State coincides with the natural law. More often than not, natural justice has been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute.” When Cohen, Boots and company reject Woods’s affirmation of Jeffersonian interposition and nullification, his critique of the 14th, the “General Welfare” clause, and the concept of the Constitution as a “living, breathing” document—they rely for their case on layers of that rubble. Having shoveled the muck of lawmaking aside, Woods bases his case on the natural justice and the founders’ original intent. One doesn’t have to agree with all of Woods’s positions to recognize that he is liberty’s champion.



©2007 By Ilana Mercer


August 10

CATEGORIES: Constitution, Founding Fathers, History, Pseudo-History

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