As I’m sure you heard, last week while speaking in Manchester, NH, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann misstated a key historical fact about the American Revolution in a speech to a group of local conservative activists and students when she said
You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. And you put a marker in the ground and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.
If this wasn’t a big enough gaffe, she repeated the same thing during a talk the next day. My instincts are to chalk this up to stupidity or the possibility that Bachmann didn’t watch Schoolhouse Rock as a child.
But Bachmann seems to be basing her campaign on the American Revolution, and this isn’t the first time she’s displayed her ignorance about our country’s early history. In a January 21, 2011 talk before “Iowans for Tax Relief,” Bachmann said
We know there was still slavery that was still tolerated when the nation began. But we also know that the very founders who wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. And I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly, men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country. (hat tip Wonkette)
Now surely Bachmann has read the US Constitution, and if so, she knows slavery was the law of the land until 1865 when the 13th Amendment was passed by Congress in January 31, 1865 and finally ratified on December 6, 1865, abolishing slavery in the United States. The amendment provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” So is she so stupid that she really doesn’t know this history, or is something else at play?
Enter Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce (R). Think Progress reports that this past week, during a speech at the Oceanside Tea Party rally, Pearce did his standard secessionist bit and his denunciation of the federal government’s efforts to stop his racist anti-immigration law (SB 1070), but this time he went onto jump off the deep end claiming that Americans aren’t even citizens of the United States, and instead citizens of “sovereign states.” Ergo, we should be loyal to the laws of individual states rather than the federal government:
U.S. history, most of us weren’t around when the Constitution was written. But you remember we kind of existed before Congress, the states. We created the Congress, we created the federal government, by compact. Do you know what existed before the Congress, the states? Do you know, you’re not a citizen of the United States. You’re a citizen of a sovereign state. The fifty sovereign states makes up United States of America, we’re citizens of those sovereign states. It is not a delegated authority. It’s an inherent authority that states have over the federal government. [applause] It’s about time somebody gets it right!
Of course, we all know Americans are citizens of the United States, and that this is a total fabrication of a man obsessed with power. I know Pearce has read the 14th Amendment because he’s determined to revise the establishment clause –All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside–to fit his racist views. The 14th Amendment not only makes clear that all people born in the United States are citizens of the United States, but also states that federal law trumps state law and “shall be the supreme Law of the Land, and that the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
So, are Bachmann, Pearce, Palin, and others of their ilk (and all their staff) really this stupid, or is something else at work here? Are they playing to the lowest common denominator, in this case the millions of American’s who don’t know this country’s history and so may take these versions as fact? Are they hoping to rewrite history since we seem to live in a time when many people aren’t persuaded by facts? Are they hoping those of us who live in a reality based universe will turn to the actual documents these people are doing such a disservice to and show them they are wrong, so they can play the “I’m a simple person just like you” and “look at these liberal, commie intellectuals who read” card?
What do you think?