by David Safier
If the headline of this post confuses you, that means you — like me — don't know very much about the new Constitution education movement going on across the country.
Garrett Epps, "a former reporter for The Washington Post, [who] is a novelist and legal scholar," wrote a piece for the Atlantic about attending a seminar of "The Making of America," led by Lester Pearce, Russell Pearce's brother, in Ashburn, VA.
Here are an excerpt.
. . . 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.
At this point a faint alarm bell should be ringing. First of all, just for the record, Jefferson didn't take any part in writing the Constitution. He was in France, and when he read the Constitution he had mixed feelings about it. (Jefferson did actually write the words "a wall of separation between church and state," which Judge Pearce and the NCCS generally regard as a pernicious myth.)
But the louder alarm should come from maps and displays in the materials that suggest, without quite saying, that the Anglo-Saxons were in fact the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. On page 20 of our workbook, a map shows an arrow marked "Northern Tribes of Israel," running from Palestine to the Caucasus region. That arrow stops in 721 B.C.; another arrow begins at the same place at the same time: "Migration of Celts, Angli, Sacki, etc." It stretches to Northern Europe and then to England. NCCS Founder W. Cleon Skousen's big textbook, The Making of America, says that "many have thought the Yinglings, or Anglo-Saxons, included a branch of the ancient Israelites because they came from the territory of the Black Sea . . . and because they preserved the same unique institutes of government as those which were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But whether related or not, there is certainly irrefutable evidence of a cross-fertilization of laws and cultural values between these two peoples." (Princeton historian Sean Wilentz's recent piece on Skousen is here.)
This coy suggestion embodies what historians call the "British Israel" theory–the idea that the English nation, not the Jews of Europe, is the rightful heir of God's Covenant with Abraham. One of the major figures in the growth of this anti-Semitic ideology in the U.S. was Howard B. Rand. Rand's Anglo-Saxon Federation worked with William B. Cameron, Henry Ford's anti-Semitic ghostwriter, to link British Israelism with the American far right wing.
This is the type of brainwashing we're fighting. The author is amazed that these people sit quietly and attentively through all these explanations, hungry, apparently, to have the Constitution "explained" to them.