The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Tea Party Patriots, Among Many, Pushing Distorted U.S. History

By Ryan Lenz on June 9, 2011 - 4:07 pm, Posted in Extremist Propaganda

Former Alaska governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin this week tried to sell the bizarrely twisted story that the midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn colonists that the British were coming was actually a ride to warn the British not to mess with the colonies. “I know my American history,” Palin said, arguing that “part of [Revere’s] ride was to warn the British that were already there that ‘Hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.’”

As odd as it might seem, offering up twisted versions of history based on a hodgepodge of distortions has become extremely fashionable among ultraconservatives and antigovernment “Patriot” groups. In fact, the Tea Party Patriots, a group based in Georgia, plans to celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 17 by spreading the work of the Idaho-based National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), a conspiracy-prone think tank founded by W. Cleon Skousen.

“Patriots across the country are concerned that students in the public schools are not being taught about our founding documents,” a flyer urging schools to adopt the program reads. “We want our children and grand children to be taught the meaning of the fundamental documents that created our incomparable nation.” The flyer encourages supporters to write letters to school boards, school superintendents and media to inform them of Constitution Day, as well as flooding schools and libraries with NCCS materials.

In many ways, the widespread acceptance of the NCCS is the culmination of years of work. For nearly four decades, in fact, representatives from the organization have been crisscrossing the nation to propagate the group’s message. (Its president, Earl Taylor, told The Washington Post last year, “We’re trying to flood the nation. … And it’s happening.”)

The NCCS promotes three central ideas: that divine guidance allowed the United States to thrive; that the modern federal government is tyrannical and implicitly sinful; and that a divine reckoning looms that will tear society apart and bring down America’s government. These ideas have grown increasingly popular in both the Patriot movement and the Tea Parties.

Recently, Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) spoke to an anti-tax group in Iowa and said the founding fathers ended slavery. (Several of the nation’s founders, including Thomas Jefferson, among others, were slave owners, and it wasn’t until the conclusion of the Civil War nearly a century later that slavery was abolished.)

While the Tea Party Patriots are busy spreading Skousen’s teachings, most constitutional scholars view the former FBI staffer and prominent John Birch Society member as a thinker prone to indefensible distortions. The Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C., a think tank “dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise” of the constitution, is fighting the “Adopt a School Constitution Week Education Program” by telling “school boards they should teach the constitution, but out of their history textbooks.”

“[The Tea Party Patriots’] interest is in educating/indoctrinating the youth of America,” said Doug Kendall, the center’s founder. “It’s incumbent upon our schools and our teachers to teach our kids historical facts, not the perspective of any ideological organization.”

At least one library has already begun collecting materials for the program. The Llano County Public Library in central Texas accepted Skousen’s books from the local Tea Party chapter, specifically biographies on George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Skousen’s magnum opus The Making of America.

County librarian Dian Ray told Hatewatch she knew the books offered a skewed version of history, but stressed it was not the library’s responsibility to “censor” a perspective from patrons. “We don’t censor,” Ray said. “We’re supposed to provide a balanced view of both sides of a subject, if we can.”

  • J Ruse

    So, while the British did in fact get ahold of Revere while on his little ride, and he did essentially warn them, you’re still mocking her adding a rare detail to the story? So, your preferred version of history is the children’s book version, the one that is lacking in detail? I am disappointed at that. Hate her — fake “hate watch” — but spreading lies about people spreading lies somehow — call me naive — is as bad as actually spreading lies. In fact, it’s the same thing! Congrats, SPLC, leftist loons that you are. Shame, you used to matter.

  • Marcia Larimore

    Thanks to Leslie who stated that churches who promote a strong political agenda should lose tax-exempt status. I totally agree with that. But what do we do with the Jerry Falwell preachers, whose pulpits not only propagandize their unsuspecting congregation, but who own their own universities/colleges? They teach total falsehood to their students, which in turn go out into the world to promote those falsehoods. Some of them may become not only teachers, but also preachers & lawyers and judges. Some may even become media anchors, or run for Congress. It is a very insidious way to infiltrate the hearts & minds of our total US population. Brainwashing them to be a robot activist for the right wing agenda. On top of all this, some right-wing colleges take the “GI Bill” for tuition payment, so We Taxpayers get to pay for their false diplomas.

    Churches are supposed to be NonProfit, so are allowed to be tax exempt. Yet Jerry Falwell openly sold total political tapes on his church website (for a profit) — they were named “The Clinton Chronicles” — stating Pres Bill Clinton killed his best friend Vince Foster, & that Clinton sold drugs & had orgies with nearly every woman in AR,etc.
    Later on, Ken Starr & his entire cadre of attorneys did not prove any of the allegations, & Bill Clinton was declared NOT GUILTY, by vote of the Congress. This now is tiny thing worthy of notice: Even after Clinton was formally found Not Guilty, Falwell kept on selling those tapes.

    One evening I paid a visit to a little known church that was heavily advertised on TV — minister did a lot of gay-bash & black-bash talk, sort of threatened me, saying “nobody better touch this mantle, many have tried & many have died.” The place was full of muscular guys. looking like “bouncers” in a mob bar, eyeing all over the place with a Sumo wrestler stance. It felt very uncomfortable, but it got even stranger. As I left, I almost tripped over a cardboard life-size replica of Geo W. Bush. Smiling, with his hands out holding right wing books FOR SALE (in a church!!)
    Well, this told me my instincts were right — it WAS a very right-wing church, & Greed is boundless in the GOP.
    – & Whoops!! Another violation of tax-exempt status.

  • Marcia Larimore

    Thanks to Leslie who stated that churches who promote a strong political agenda should lose tax-exempt status. I totally agree with that. But what do we do with the Jerry Falwell preachers, whose pulpits not only propagandize their unsuspecting congregation, but who own their own universities/colleges? They teach total falsehood to their students, which in turn go out into the world to promote those falsehoods. Some of them may become not only teachers, but also preachers & lawyers and judges. Some may even become media anchors, or run for Congress. It is a very insidious way to infiltrate the hearts & minds of our total US population. Brainwashing them to be a robot activist for the right wing agenda. On top of all this, some right-wing colleges take the “GI Bill” for tuition payment, so We Taxpayers get to pay for their false diplomas.

    Churches are supposed to be NonProfit, so are allowed to be tax exempt. Yet Jerry Falwell openly sold total political tapes on his church website (for a profit) — they were named “The Clinton Chronicles” — stating Pres Bill Clinton killed his best friend Vince Foster, & that Clinton sold drugs & had orgies with nearly every woman in AR,etc.
    Later on, Ken Starr & his entire cadre of attorneys did not prove any of the allegations, & Bill Clinton was declared NOT GUILTY, by vote of the Congress. This now is tiny thing worthy of notice: Even after Clinton was formally found Not Guilty, Falwell kept on selling those tapes.

    One evening I paid a visit to a little known church that was heavily advertised on TV — minister did a lot of gay-bash & black-bash talk, sort of threatened me, saying “nobody better touch this mantle, many have tried & many have died.” The place was full of muscular guys. looking like “bouncers” in a mob bar, eyeing all over the place with a Sumo wrestler stance. It felt very uncomfortable, but it got even stranger. As I left, I almost tripped over a cardboard life-size replica of Geo W. Bush. Smiling, with his hands out holding right wing books FOR SALE (in a church!!)
    Well, this told me my instincts were right — it WAS a very right-wing church, & that Greed is boundless in the GOP.
    – Whoops!! Another violation of tax-exempt status.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Sorry Barb, but the Treaty of Tripoli defeats your claim, unless you want to claim that Jefferson and the entire US congress was made up of liars. Also, the Declaration of Independence(there is no such thing as a “birth certificate” for a nation) is not the law of the land, and the 1st Amendment is in the Constitution, which doesn’t mention God. So…fail.

  • Leslie

    Churches that are involved in promoting a political agenda should lose their tax-exempt status.

  • Barb

    To Sam Malloy and many others:
    You’re very wrong – our Constitution guarantees “Freedom OF religion not FROM religion.” So many people have that so completely distorted! The First Amendment to the US Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or PROHIBITING the FREE EXERCISE thereof.” Those who want no mention of God in our country fail to realize these true FACTS of American history:

    The Declaration of Independence, considered our nation’s birth certificate, mentions God FOUR times, and begins with these words “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are ENDOWED by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Your very freedom to live and pursue your own happiness comes from that statement alone, don’t you get it? 90-95% of America’s founding fathers were practicing Trinitarian Christians: http://allabouthistory.org/sep.....-state.htm

    Thomas Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” The oppression of man against man is only held in check by those who acknowledge that we all ultimately have to answer to an authority greater than SELF. However, those with liberal views believe they are the only authority over their lives. But death is inevitable for each one of us; therefore, where we place God (or tragically make no place for Him at all) is of utmost importance, like it or not. There’s just no loophole!

    The bottom line is this…”The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.”- Thomas Jefferson. That’s why so many people today distort American history and our Constitution to support their own agendas. And that’s also why our country is now TRILLIONS of dollars in debt trying to accommodate all of these self-serving people who act like nothing but demanding, spoiled kids! Think about it…

  • Mitch Beales

    To “the real Ian”:

    I’m happy to hear you haven’t lost your mind. We’ve disagreed from time to time but my first impression was that you had been “namejacked.”

  • ModerateMike

    I should probably clarify my earlier statements. I never meant to imply that librarians should reject or reclassify books simply because they disagree with the content. Rather, my concern is whether or not librarians are helping people to be good “information shoppers”. At least when I walk into a library, I go to the history section expecting to find books authored by those who desire to inform rather than proselytize. I realize, however, that the distinction may not be fine enough for someone to make without engaging in censorship (however unconsciously). Therefore, if the acceptance of Skousen’s books is sincerely motivated by a desire to supply the community with a broad historical perspective, and not by fear of angering a political group, then I offer my apologies for my earlier remarks.

  • Sam Molloy

    Chris, there is such a thing as calling a lie a lie. Holocaust denial comes to mind. Maybe there could be a section in the Library for books about Aryan Supremacy, Gay “cures”, and oil companys’ secret cars that run on air.

  • Marcia Larimore

    Misinformation and Disinformation is always a great tool for fascist groups to use in gaining mind control over their recruits. Flooding them with evil lying paranoid ideology is the speedway to successful brainwashing, & unfortunately it has gone on for 50 yrs in this country by the radical right.

    The daily insanity of a Rush Limberger, who can reach mass numbers of gullible human beings each day, & fill their weak minds with tons of mentally toxic garbage — is Example A. It has gone on unimpeded for over 25 yrs on the innocent radio channels, freely available to anyone who may be uneducated, & unemployed, & their brain is a large void to be filled by any crackpot nonsense that can be spoken in semi-human terms.

    I have discovered a large SECRET about their tactics. It is not really a secret, but has seldom been discussed. If you take any sentence spoken by Limberger or Palin, for example, and turn it upside down & backwards — then it will make fairly decent sense, & may even be TRUE.

    Ann Coulter in her new book states how Liberals are such demons, & have a mobocracy. Then she describes what that is –& I swear that if you replace the word Republican for “liberal” in every sentence — it would be TRUE.
    In other words, it is exactly backwards & upside down.

    Does anyone remember Geo Orwell’s book: “1984″? It tells of NEWSPEAK, how language can be so twisted that it makes normal thought patterns & logic near impossible.

    WAR IS PEACE. (one of their slogans). The Ministry of Truth is their news orgn, which re-writes History every day (including the news, their history, & even statistics).

    Even the vocabulary is convoluted & distorted, so it is not possible to express things logically. Everyone is forced to watch the daily HATE program by their Govt (Big Brother)
    & all people are under constant surveillance. That book, written 1949, has largely materialized in modern USA.

    But the Major thing I wanted to point out — is that their whole language of communication is “exactly backwards” from the Truth. (JUST LIKE THE Limbergers, Coulters, Palins, & most of the Tea Party movement).

    It is all based on deliberate LIES & distortions that are exactly BACKWARDS. If you are going to read or listen to their messages, always change the word “liberal” to “right-winger” OR change the word “Democrat” to “GOP.”

    In Coulter’s stmts, Democrats are illogical, uninformed & do not know any facts. They are uneducated, & do not understand logic. They are ruled by a mob mentality. IF YOU STUDY the “Tea Party” movement, you will see that this analysis will exactly DESCRIBE the right wingers.

  • Reynardine

    What is the motto of the Paliban? Shield Schitler!

  • Aron Levy

    To the Ian who wrote at 3:09 PM,

    I know the other Ian wasn’t you. He made far too little sense for that :)

    And to Chris, kudos for doing the right thing. It isn’t always the most pleasant, or even the thing you most want to do. But it is still the right thing.

    Let readers discover the drivel for themselves. As a librarian, it is your job to facilitate this discovery. Moving them to politics is incorrect. It may be interpretation (in my mind horrific misinterpretation…) but it is still history.

    To the other Ian, I’m still waiting for your response. You made some pretty big statements there. Please back them up with source material.

    Thanks,

    Aron

  • Ralph W

    I wonder if ‘County librarian Dian Ray’ has also purchased copies pf Chris Rodda’s ‘Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History”

    Our local county library, at least the last time I requested it,
    did not have copies available.

  • Ian

    The other person writting under “Ian” is not the same Ian who is typing the comment you are currently reading. Either is it someone pretending to be me, or there is another guy out there named Ian who also lacks creativity when it comes to making screen-names.

    I hope it’s the latter.

    Palin’s attempts at inspirational speeches remind me of the much, much better inspirational speech from “Animal House”.

    “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

  • Chris

    As a librarian, I must emphasize that what she is doing is absolutely correct. It is NOT our job to censor (and yes, moving a book away from the history section is de facto censorship). It’s something people want to read about; our job is to both serve the community, as well as provide balance. Trust me, it’s a hard line to walk as it is.

  • Sam Molloy

    There are terrible, verifiable stories here on the Border about “slave catchers” going over to Indiana and promising free Blacks a job, telling them to show up at such and such a warehouse at a certain time, then slamming the doors, herding them back to Louisville or Lexington’s slave market by night and selling them. History was always written by the winners, and a Farenheit 451 style burning of books is now unnecessary, as only PC facts will make the transition from books to computerized versions of history.

  • Aron Levy

    Ian,

    You can spin Palin’s words any way you wish. She never said ge warned the British after he was captured. Ergo, you’re putting words in her mouth. You were wrong. She was wrong. Once again, I ask you to simply deal with that fact. Will you? Fat chance.

    Regarding your Civil War screed, might I enquire as to whom fired the first shots of the war? Oh, right. It was fire eaters in South Carolina bombarding Ft. Sumter. The US Government had the unprecedented temerity to not withdraw from an emplacement which it legally owned.

    Also, the South sealed its own fate with the assassination of Lincoln. He was the strongest ally they possessed. And Andrew Johnson HATED the South. So much for an amicable reconstruction.

    As to your comments regarding the 1808 cessation of the slave trade, I feel once again you are confused. The IMPORTATION of slaves was banned. The trade of said blacks within the South was still very much practiced. And please, please, please show me some legitimate sources that claim the South (before or during the existence of the CSA) was about to manumit their slaves ANYTIME before emancipation.

    I ask this as a college-educated military historian whose focus is on the Civil War.

    Also, you might want to re-examine the tax rates under Ronnie before you jump back into his lap. You might be unpleasantly surprised at what you find. Maybe he wasn’t the conservative demi-you make him out to be.

    In closing, Ian, I very much anticipate your response.

    Have at you!

    Regards,

    Aron

  • A.D.M.

    Sure, Ian. Whay you say is true. Not! And I bet you have not agenda yourself, right? I bet you’re one of those dummies who thinks the civil war was never about slavery. Tell me, do you dislike the SPLC? And as for the “founding” of the US, tell that junk to the American Indians, if there are any left.

  • holizz

    As far as I understand it, history as currently taught to students pre-college is already wildly distorted propaganda with little appreciation for widely accepted facts, and no mention when the “facts” presented actually represent one side of an ongoing debate. [Source: "Lies My Teacher Told Me"]

    I agree. We shouldn’t lie to children. But the nationwide propaganda campaign has already been carried out. The plans outlined above represent a tiny increase in the egregiousness of the lies.

  • Ian

    Paul Revere did in fact warn the British about what was coming while he was being held prisoner after being captured. So Mrs. Palin, is in FACT, absolutely and completely correct in her statements.

    Also it is in fact true that the founding fathers ended slavery by cutting of the trade of slaves in 1808 and yes you are, oddly enough, correct that Thomas Jefferson did have slaves but he himself readily admitted the evils of slavery and the helplessness of the newly formed United States to end it immediately without delaying indefinitely the our unity by alienating the southern states. Also the only reason that anti slavery became such a vogue and fashionable movement by zealot leftists in the mid 19th century is because of the desire of the Northern states to end the Southern use of free labor which the North could not use. Then there is also the fact that many southern states at that time were already in processes of eliminating and reducing southern dependcy upon slave labor by sending many of them back to Africa. Plus many Southern leaders at the time, as Jefferson, admitted the desire and need to end slave labor but were still as of yet unable to comletely do so without the complete destruction of the Southern economy, which the North was more than happy to preside over in later years. During the Civil War many blacks were drafted to fight for Southern units and all were paid the same wages as white troops, something which did not occur in the North. But I guess I have dwelt on one subject long enough shall we move on?

    Interesting how there at the end you have a quote from a librarian whose sole job is to make sure that a library has books stating personal and probably uninformed opinions about books. Now I could be wrong I mean if the biographies of Washington and Jefferson are ones written spewing revisonist, liberal, anti faith propaganda then she is most assuredly correct in her statement. There again liberals are not known for having ever read or understood history as it actually was but revising it as necessary to fulfill the needs of whatever anti-American, anti-God movement they are trying to start under the obviously false and rediculous claims of “grassroots”. I leave you with words from one of the greatest men to ever serve this nation, Ronald Reagan.

    “America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”

  • Sam Molloy

    I was taught that America was founded on freedom FROM religion, and the separation of Church and State is the cornerstone of a successful democracy. A democracy can not work without an objective education system. We have to teach both theories and facts and the way to tell the difference.

  • Aron Levy

    I agree completely with Ms. Ray: she has every obligation to accept those books. Though I may (vehemently) disagree with their content, people must still be given the chance to read them and analyze them themselves.

    On a different note, however, I am from Lexington, Massachusetts. And I currently live here now. And when I read the utter bunkum spouted by Ms Palin, I was infuriated. Not merely because I am an historian. But simply because she insulted one of my town’s heroes. Revere was nowhere near that stupid. Why would he cry out that ‘The British are coming!’ Did he want to be captured? Of course not. And he would have called them ‘Regulars’ in any event.

    Maybe Ms Palin needs to watch a little more School House Rock before she accepts another hundred thousand dollars to besmirch American history at a speaking engagement.

    -Aron Levy

  • ModerateMike

    “We’re supposed to provide a balanced view of both sides of a subject, if we can.”

    I never knew that historical fact had 2 sides.

    It’s one thing to dispute information regarded as historically accurate when one has compelling evidence to back up his/her case. But for Ms. Ray to say that she accepted the books because she didn’t want to censor a perspective seems a bit wishy-washy to me, especially if she placed them in the library’s history section.

    I have no problem with anyone attempting to interpret the motives of the country’s founders or attributing their actions to divine influence, but such works should be shelved in another part of the library.