Friday, January 7, 2011

Pro-Slavery? Or Just Unapologetic? Glenn Beck Defends the Three-Fifths Clause of the U.S. Constitution

The Tea Party Glenn Beck Sarah Palin New Right's naive worshiping of and gang bang circle jerk onanistic spewing over the U.S. Constitution continues once more.

Yesterday the Tea Party GOP Congress sponsored a Right-wing politically convenient reading of the U.S. Constitution with all of the "inconvenient" and "naughty" parts omitted or politely glossed over. Glenn Beck (historian in residence at Fox News) had to set them right on their embarrassment motivated rewriting of history. Predictably, Beck did this by lecturing the Tea Party Republicans on the divine genius and perfection of the near deities known as "The Founders."

[Apparently, this cabal of historical superheroes--a bunch reasonable folk know as John Jay, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, et al.--can do no wrong. For Beck and the Tea Bagger crowd, this disparate collection of personalities were not real people, political pragmatists who committed deeds both ill and good in the interest of political expediency--interests and deeds both selfish and generous. Nope. Not here.]

Of course, instead of having an honest and transparent conversation about how the 3/5ths compromise empowered the South, reinforced their ability to preserve the slaveocracy through inflated representation in the Congress, and led to a Civil War, Beck instead indulges in a line of reasoning that does not pass the most simple tests of reasonable historiography and common sense.

Glenn Beck's misrepresentations point to a bigger play at hand. The Texas rewriting of U.S. history, the banning of "Ethnic Studies" programs in Arizona, the Neo-Secessionist movement, and the general politics of white victimology and racial resentment that are the beating heart of the Republican Tea Party, speak to an old and deep vein of anti-intellectualism in American public life. Symptomatically, as we work through history and its relationship to American politics, Beck and the New Right are possessed of a belief that all opinions are created equal, and that the historical record is simply a "social construct," a function of mere interpretation that can be massaged at will to fit the political demands of the day.

Question: Who would have thought that post-modern, New Times theory would have gone so amok?

We can only imagine the consequences of fiction and myth as the basis of a political movement that seeks to remake the very foundations of the social contract and American's constitutional republic.

I am not asking Glenn Beck to be the next Woodward, Williamson, Berlin, Franklin, Holt, or Hahn. Nor am I asking the Tea Party GOP brigands who carry around copies of the Constitution in their pockets as they play 18th Century America costume party to be especially sophisticated citizens.

All I ask is that Glenn Beck in playing the the role of pseudo-historian at least maintain a pretense to truth seeking it ethical, moral, or philosophical.

Is this all too much to ask of a dilettante historian with an on knee, mouth open, and ears ready audience that takes what Beck utters as wisdom from on high, metaphorical rain come down from the mountain top? Or am I just being too hopeful?

A question for a our first poll of the year 2011: Is Glenn Beck ignorantly willful? Or is Glenn Beck willfully ignorant?


Joanna said...

That man is out of his rabid ass mind!

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Things like the 3/5s compromise prompted William Lloyd Garrison to burn copies of the Constitution in public, because it implicitly endorsed slavery, which he rightfully saw as evil.

I think the real issue is that so-called "originalists" like Beck and Scalia need to deny the actual original intent of some of the Founders (especially the Southern ones), because their views on things like slavery, gender, and voting rights have been completely repudiated by history.

xulon said...

Telling line: "Yesterday ... or was it today? I don't know what day it is." Thankfully, it seems the crazy* star is setting. Can't happen soon enough. I'm still shaking my head that the star rose in the first place. Only in America.

By "crazy" I do not mean anything playful or harmless. He is willfully ignorant and those who placed him in front have evil intent.

olderwoman said...

The 3/5ths compromise was 3/5ths pro-slavery, as its point was to let the South get Congressional representation for people who could not vote.

I was reflecting the other day after the new Census info came out that today's comparable issue is places that benefit in the Census count for Congressional representation from immigrants (legal and otherwise) who cannot vote.

For that matter, voters who live in states with restrictive voting laws that make it harder for lower class people to vote similarly benefit.

Plane Ideas said...

WOW....America ....Just US

xulon said...

Can you name another country where foaming-at-the-mouth anti-intellectualism is considered a virtue?

To your point though, the perpetrator of Glen Beck is a very powerful media mogul and convicted felon who is also very influential with the same anti-intellectual tactics in England and Australia.

Shaw Kenawe said...

As I said on another blog that linked to this post, I tend not to listen to nor believe anything that is said by anyone whose intelligence does not rise above that of a grilled cheese sandwich.

xulon said...

Here is a question I had. I am not a historian and can't say I've studied history, but since the "3/5th clause" was amended doesn't that mean it is no longer part of the Constitution? If so, not reading it would not have been the big offensive slap to the Constitution that some people took it to be.

Obviously, I am talking "in theory". Agenda-driven people will still find offense. Voter restriction people will still wish to make less and less people eligible until the only eligible voters are the ones who are sufficiently enfranchised to consider Republicans and our Corporate overlords the sole possessors of their votes.

TheRaven said...

Beck says that the 3/5's clause was "genius", implying that it was the only compromise that allowed America to exist and forgetting it was a devil's bargain. The word implies the founder's had 200 years worth of foresight. He also jumped past the cost of revoking the 3/5's clause, which is measured in 100's of thousands of lives and the less obvious costs of American Apartheid. There's also the matter of the 13th amendment, which formally excised said clause, 140 years ago. Leaving aside Beck's coldly calculated appeal to the least educated, most reactionary whites in America, he characterized a factual reading of the constitution - by Republicans - as "cowardice". Beck is a radio shock-jock who got extraordinarily lucky. He has a high-school education. His statements say nothing of his beliefs, knowledge or education, because he possesses none of that. The completely fallacious shot at Republicans shows what he's all about: personal enrichment through public manipulation of weak minds. A generation ago he'd have shared an audience with Jimmy Swaggert. We can't cure stupid but we can starve its supplier. The best way to deal with Beck is to ignore him. Attention paid by intelligent, principled and well-intentioned commentators is just fuel for his PR machine. I've been guilty of bashing Beck but I've focused on coded messages to an an audience of nitwits, most of whom are retirement age. With respect, sober discussion of that self-aggrandizing worm is not merited.

Constructive Feedback said...

Ho Hum.

It is clear that my friend Chauncey prefers the "Howard Zinn" type of White folks. They dutifully hock their spit upon the various points of indiscretion of this nation's past so they never allow the consumer to take his works and hijack them for anything other than repudiation.

Please, by all means read (or purchase the audio via as I did) of "Thomas Jefferson - The Negro President" ( It does the best job of detailing the entrenched debate regarding slavery. The corrupt Southerners who, by the laws of the nation were allowed to "purchase" EQUAL HUMAN BEINGS as they would horses and cows - wanted to treat the African as a WHOLE HUMAN BEING when it came time for the Census.

The "Great Enlightened White Fathers Of The North" (think Howard Zinn with a powdered wig) sought to call their genetically equal White brothers in the South on their slight of hand. How, on the one had is the Africa "subhuman" when it came to his use in their system of production yet when they stood to benefit in the way of apportionment - this same Negro was to be counted as an equal. Why not count horses and cows and chickens in the US Census?

Here is the deal, my good friend Chauncey - when it comes to "Wolf Tickets" those of you who exhaust no quantity of condemnation upon these vile acts where GOD'S CREATION was rendered as a farm animal also bear no obligation to note that FROM THIS "VILE COMPROMISE" came the document and the first 15 Amendments that you carried into the Supreme Court as the basis of your SOCIAL JUSTICE RIGHTS.

Pray tell how you justify your position?

In my less jaundiced reading of (evil racist) Glenn Beck he was merely saying that for one to skip BOTH the 3/5ths Compromise and the Prohibition Amendment yet MAGICALLY read the 13th, 14th and 15th is INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST.

Why was there SLAVERY mentioned in the 3 key amendments which FIXED the fungus that was placed in the original document yet they avoided reading the OFFENDING ENTRIES?

I wonder if you (Chancey) will ever get to the point of seeing that those who take company with you as they provide you with the necessary dramatics that you look for seem to form their alliance with you per your own focus on THE ENEMY that you both have in common. Just try to include THEM in as those who have benefited from the system that you seek to indict. That upper lip which you mistake as a grin will tighten up into a "snarl".

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]Of course, instead of having an honest and transparent conversation about how the 3/5ths compromise empowered the South, reinforced their ability to preserve the slaveocracy through inflated representation in the Congress, and led to a Civil War, Beck instead indulges in a line of reasoning that does not pass the most simple tests of reasonable historiography and common sense.[/quote]

Chauncey - When I read statements that are MISREPRESENTATION of the context of history from which they derive from - I look beyond the poster and make note of the words of the CONSUMER.

You say that the 3/5ths compromise INCREASED THE STANDING OF THE SOUTH. Let us put our thinking caps on. Their ORIGINAL INTENTION was to count the African as a COMPLETE HUMAN BEING in the US Census for their own profit. The fact that 2/5ths was taken away speaks to some force that sought to deny the South of their agenda.

It seems that you wanted the North to fall on their sword and fight the CIVIL WAR in the late 1700's as proof of their valuation of the Negro above the NATION.

You stand TODAY, pocket sized US Constitution in your breast pocket, ready to show any offending Sheriff's deputy who seeks to do an ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE upon your property where he has VIOLATED the document that is flawed with the COMPROMISE that you reject.

Indeed how LOFTY of an INTELLECTUAL you are. IF ONLY these WHITE FOLKS of 250 years ago STOOD THEIR GROUND against their Southern neighbors - they would have eventually relented and given the African a minimum wage just insure that the nation was successfully formed.

Mr Werner Bear - William Lloyd Garrison has his own issues with RACISM. It appears that his desire to END SLAVERY upon the AFRICAN did not necessarily mean that he saw the African as his EQUAL. Frederick Douglass found that out.

Constructive Feedback said...

I love you man - Chauncey've got to EXPLAINING to do.

(Either you are going to have to render Wikipedia as a non-credible source OR challenge the great Frederick Douglass. Seek assistance from KC Nulan if you please).

Why did you accept the edited version of "The Bear" without doing more of your own research?

[quote]Douglass came to agree with Smith and Lysander Spooner that the United States Constitution was an anti-slavery document. This reversed his earlier agreement with William Lloyd Garrison that it was pro-slavery. Garrison had publicly expressed his opinion by burning copies of the document. Further contributing to their growing separation, Garrison was worried that the North Star competed with his own National Anti-Slavery Standard and Marius Robinson's Anti-Slavery Bugle.


Douglass' change of position on the Constitution was one of the most notable incidents of the division in the abolitionist movement after the publication of Spooner's book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery in 1846. This shift in opinion, and other political differences, created a rift between Douglass and Garrison. Douglass further angered Garrison by saying that the Constitution could and should be used as an instrument in the fight against slavery.[/quote]

chaunceydevega said...


Lord goodness. I must amend my opinion of you. At first I thought you were just confused. Now, I think you are a bit more than an educated fool and a little less than a dilettante.

One has to read a great deal and learn a good amount in order to appreciate the virtue of Occam's razor:

And on Douglass, a great man who you should get out of your mouth (how naughty!)...just kidding. Douglass was using the Constitution in order to argue against the slaveocracy and to force white people (he failed here clearly) to own up to the radically democratic potential of said document.

I doubt Douglass, a man who lived under the lash, escaped, and fought for the freedom of his people and to make this country better, would labor under any delusions about the material, political, and social interests of the white elites that framed the Constitution.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]would labor under any delusions about the material, political, and social interests of the white elites that framed the Constitution.[/quote]

My dear friend Chauncey -

I hope that you realize that with each submission from you (no no no - I am not talking about your "submissiveness" to Brother X. I am talking about each time you press the "publish button)....I add to my psychological picture that I am constructing for you.

The above is no different.

Now we have the qualification of:

* Douglass's "slavery qualification"

* The INTENTIONS of the "White Elite"

Both of whom are focused on THE WORDS WRITTEN ON A PIECE OF PAPER.

Here is where I am with you Chauncey. I am not sure that you can get around the conundrum that you find yourself in without seeking the tear down and REFORMATION of this nation, purging that document who's framing came from the White men who thought you to be an INFERIOR. No hand movements that leave a trail of ink from their pen movements will ever decry you as his equal.

You are a man of Zinn and Chalmers Johnson and Brother X. Renaissance Men of their day who were fully aware of their enemy and the system of snares that he arranged for them.

Why fake the notion that the INTENTIONS of these White Elite are what you debate over? There is a large class of LEFTIST WHITE ELITE that trouble you not.

IDEOLOGY and its ECONOMIC form, not ELITISM is what you get off on.