That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing

That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing

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by Michael Austin
     
 

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This book examines dozens of books, articles, speeches, and radio broadcasts by such figures as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart, and David Barton to expose the deep historical flaws in their use of America's founding history. In contrast to their misleading method of citing proof texts to serve a narrow agenda, Austin allows the Founding

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Overview

This book examines dozens of books, articles, speeches, and radio broadcasts by such figures as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart, and David Barton to expose the deep historical flaws in their use of America's founding history. In contrast to their misleading method of citing proof texts to serve a narrow agenda, Austin allows the Founding Fathers to speak for themselves, situating all quotations in the proper historical context. What emerges is a true historical picture of men who often disagreed with one another on such crucial issues as federal power, judicial review, and the separation of church and state. As Austin shows, the real legacy of the Founding Fathers to us is a political process: a system of disagreement, debate, and compromise that has kept democracy vibrant in America for more than two hundred years.

Austin’s carefully researched and rigorously argued book is essential reading for anyone seeking the accurate historical background to many of the today's hot-button political debates.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Austin (Reading the World), English professor at Newman University, condemns the way right-wing figures such as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, David Barton, and Larry Schweikart use the founding fathers to promote their own politics. He addresses the issues of original intent, federal power, judicial review, and church-state relations, padding his commentary with 46 pages of founders’ documents. Though Austin rightly distinguishes between the views of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the talk-radio “conservative fringe,” he rails against an incoherent version of America’s past and the “right wing’s anti-judicial rhetoric,” ignoring the same on the left, from historian Howard Zinn to court review of health legislation. Dropping any pretense of scholarly objectivity toward the end, Austin gives a thumbs-up to facts and narratives “to beat up our ideological opponents.” He concludes with a shout, “Mr. Levin and Mr. Beck: I’m sick and tired of YOU putting down my country.” Austin’s self-righteous disdain will appeal to readers for whom “right wing” denotes imbecility or evil. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Tired of people bellowing at you about the Founding Fathers? Then read Michael Austin's quiet, good-humored, thought-provoking book. . . . A welcome breath of fresh air about a stale subject, it also captures the most important truth about the Founding Fathers - they disagreed with one another, eloquently and even bitterly, about what America should be and about how we should govern ourselves."
- R. B. BERNSTEIN, Distinguished adjunct professor of law, New York Law School, and author of The Founding Fathers Reconsidered

"A long-overdue critique of partisan distortions of America's Founding Fathers. Austin takes both the Right and the Left to task, but he especially castigates the Far Right for cherry-picking (or proof texting) various Founders' statements and then attributing their sentiments to the Founding Fathers as a whole, as if the Founders were a homogenous group of men who agreed on everything. . . .A must-read for anyone who wants an objective exploration of the American political and constitutional system."
- DAVID CONTOSTA, Professor of history, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, and author of Rebel Giants

"Provides a much-needed corrective to some of the craziness being promoted by right-wing extremists these days in the name of the Founding Fathers. . . . The real legacy of those Fathers? A political system. In Austin's words, it's 'a system of disagreement, debate, and compromise...that has kept democracy vibrant in America for more than two hundred years.'"
- DAVIS D. JOYCE, Professor emeritus of history, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma, and author of Howard Zinn

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616146702
Publisher:
Prometheus Books
Publication date:
09/18/2012
Pages:
285
Sales rank:
1,109,153
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Michael Austin (Wichita, KS) is the author or editor of six books, including Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. He is provost, vice president for Academic Affairs, and professor of English at Newman University.

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That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't let the title fool you. Every one should read this one regardless of personal politics or religion. The Founders weren't the mythological super beings that we make them out to be. They were just people trying to solve the political issues of their day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The left have a pattern of thinking that the founding fathers were evil.