From Pine View Farm

Sauce for the Goose 4

In the Roanoke Times, William Fizer laments the ignorance of the wastrel youth:

When Jay Leno asks people on the street simple, common-sense questions, to which they have no answer, we think it’s funny. When author and historian David McCullough speaks to college students across this land, the students make statements and ask questions that shock him. At a recent talk, one college student had no idea that the original 13 states were on the East Coast.

He proceeds to provide evidence of the ignorance of the credulous oldth in the next paragraph, with this farcical statement,

Many Americans don’t know why we celebrate the Fourth of July or that U.S. founding documents are religious in nature, based on Judeo-Christian principles . . . .

which ignores the stated beliefs and actual writings of the founders, who were deeply suspicious of the influence of religion on government, the Wars of the Reformation, the Inquisition, and witch trials being fresh in their memories.

One could stretch a case and claim that, to the extent principles of justice and fairness are in some theoretical fashion “Judeo-Christian,” they may in some way be embodied in the founding documents, but it is ludicrous to arrogate justice and fairness somehow exclusively to the “Judeo-Christian” tradition. (Justice and fairness don’t seem particularly prominent in the thinking of those, such as Pat Robertson, who so loudly proclaim themselves as Christ’s appointed spokespersons in our public debate; vengeance and earthly dominion seem to preoccupy them.)

As I said, it would be a stretch. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America were much more the products of classical and Enlightenment philosophers than of any religious sect or creed.

Mr. Fizer’s distress at the ignorance of American history is, I think, well-taken.

He should start by learning some.



  1. George Smith

    November 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Nice takedown. You should consider repackaging it as an e-mail and submitting it to their letters page. I bet there’s a good chance they would run it. Can’t let the crypto-Tea Party types use pearl-clutching as camouflage. Whenever I see someone speak or write of “we must return to our historical roots” my bogometer gets pegged.

  2. Frank

    November 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm



    I just might make it a letter.  You know, with like paper and envelopes and stuff?  Will keep you posted.

  3. George Smith

    December 1, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Naw. Most newspapers take e-mail letters. Unless the RT is really trying to be backward. They do advertise and you’re most erudite. Don’t let me push you into it, though. I know how annoying that is and have no idea, since I don’t read it, what the editorial inclination of the newspaper is. 

  4. Frank

    December 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Oh, I’m sure they actually prefer emails–copy and paste and all that.  I prefer not having my email out there in a newspaper.

    As you already know, thanks to your encouragement, I made an exception in this case.