I last wrote of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” on February 9 of 2020 in The 1619 Project: Academic Fraud. I began that article—which I recommend you re-read—with discussion of Michael Bellesiles, who wrote a book titled Arming America: The Origins Of A National Gun Culture. It was praised by all the right—left—people because it was the eternal anti-liberty/gun narrative, but this time, backed by purportedly genuine scholarship! For once and for all, anti-liberty/gun cracktivists had SCIENCE! on their side, and would vanquish God and gun clinging Deplorables.
Bellesiles claimed to have scoured historical documents, including wills and probate records, and even produced quotes from the founders that seemed to suggest they were as anti-liberty/gun as the modern Democrat/Socialist/Communist Left, which wasn’t quite as Left then as it is now. Bellesiles won perhaps the most coveted honor in the history profession, the Bancroft Prize. Bellesiles, and the anti-liberty/gun Left were riding high. They finally had the scholarly study that would, once and for all, do away with that annoying Second Amendment.
Alas, it was not to be. Even before the publication of the book, honest historians had questions about Bellesiles’ data and methods. No one could replicate his results. It didn’t take long to discover Bellesiles took quotes out of context, made up sources and data, and could not produce any of his notes, data sets or other documents mandatory to genuine scholarship. In other words, everything he wrote was a lie. There was no science involved, but boat loads of academic fraud. The Bancroft Prize was rescinded—the only time to date—the book’s publisher withdrew it and Emory University, where Bellesiles’ taught, sought and got his resignation.I followed that article in June of 2020 with The 1619 Project: Will We Help Ourselves? In that article, I noted:
What it means, of course, is it’s not only acceptable to lie about history, when upholding contemporary D/S/C social justice narratives are involved, it’s mandatory.
Now we have another attempt to destroy the Second Amendment, but this time not because Americans never owned, liked or used guns, no. This time because RACISM! David Harsanyi reports at National Review:
Left-wing academic Carol Anderson’s new book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, is all over the news. ‘The Second Amendment is not about guns — it’s about anti-Blackness, a new book argues,’ reads a CNN headline. NPR claims that the author has uncovered the racist ‘roots’ of the Second Amendment.
What an extraordinary new development! Extraordinary not in that race hustlers have discovered something else is racist. Everything is racist these days: rain, snow, sunshine, Tuesday, socks, Kleenex, highways, noses, toes, non-woke Black people, you name it, it’s racist. Extraordinary not in that it plows new historical and academic ground, but because it’s easily as much a fraud as Bellesile’s book. It was, in fact, the Democrat Party that did all it could to deprive Black Americans of arms. Republicans—normal Americans of good will—defended and restored those rights. For a good article on this issue, consider this excerpt from an article by historian Clayton Cramer. It’s from an 1840 North Carolina law:
That if any free negro, mulatto, or free person of color, shall wear or carry about his or her person, or keep in his or her house, any shot gun, musket, rifle, pistol, sword, dagger or bowie-knife, unless he or she shall have obtained a licence therefor from the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of his or her county, within one year preceding the wearing, keeping or carrying therefor, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be indicted therefor.
We return to Harsanyi:
This is wishful thinking. The Second is an attempt — much like the 1619 Project — to reimagine history in purely racial terms. The result is tendentious polemic that suffers not only from a paucity of historical evidence, but from a dishonest rendering of the facts we do know.
After comprehensively detailing the constitutional debate over slavery and the nefariousness of that institution, Anderson takes the liberty of asserting that the Second Amendment was ‘not some hallowed ground but rather a bribe, paid again with Black bodies.’ This is a contention that isn’t backed by a single contemporaneous quote or piece of hard evidence in the book.
Indeed, Anderson ignores the tradition of militias in English common law — codifying the ‘ancient and indubitable’ right in the 1689 English Bill of Rights — which had nothing to do with chattel slavery. Anderson ignores the fact that nearly every intellectual, political, and military leader of the Founding generation — many of whom had no connection to slavery — stressed the importance of self-defense in entirely different contexts.
“A single contemporaneous quote or piece of hard evidence”? Posh! This is contemporary race science we’re talking about! When one is fighting systemic racism and white supremacy, so much as suggesting one needs anything so racist as evidence is RACIST!!!
It was slavery skeptic John Adams, in his 1770 defense of Captain Thomas Preston, one of the soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre, who argued that even British soldiers had an inherent right to defend themselves from mobs. ‘Here every private person is authorized to arm himself, and on the strength of this authority, I do not deny the inhabitants had a right to arm themselves,’ he noted. When Pennsylvania became the first colony to explicitly guarantee the right to bear arms, it was Benjamin Franklin, by then an abolitionist, who presided over the conference. It was the anti-slavery Samuel Adams who proposed that the Constitution never be used to ‘authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.’ In the writings and speeches of nearly all American Founders, the threat of disarmament was a casus belli.
Of course it was. The writings of the Founders, not least of which is the Second Amendment, make that abundantly clear. They wrote the Constitution, which was—and is–the foundation for equal rights for all, but again, RACISM!!!
In making her case that the Second Amendment was predominantly an invention of the South, Anderson stresses that most American jurisdictions did not even have their own Second Amendment before the constitutional convention. She’s right. Many anti-Federalists believed that enshrining these rights on paper would lead to future abuses. Of course, Southerners didn’t need permission to suppress black slave revolts, anyway. They had done so on numerous occasions before the nation’s founding.
Many Americans don’t realize the Constitution was passed and adopted only with the understanding a Bill of Rights would soon follow. Many of the Founders feared future generations would argue the people had only those rights expressly written in the Bill of Rights.
But to make the claim that the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution to placate slave owners, Anderson is impelled to take numerous shortcuts. Take, for example, this pivotal sentence in the book:
‘In short, James Madison, the Virginian, knew ‘that the militia’s prime function in his state, and throughout the south, was slave control.’
The author frames the quote as if Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, had said it himself — or, if we’re being generous, that it’s a fair representation of his views. When you follow the book’s endnote, however, it leads to a 1998 paper titled ‘The Hidden History of the Second Amendment,’ written by anti-gun activist Carl T. Bogus, who shares Anderson’s thesis. It is hisquote. Nowhere does Bogus offer any sample of Madison declaring, or even implying, that slave control was the impetus for the Second Amendment.
Bogus, Madison, what does it matter now? I’m sure Anderson is sure Bogus is sure—could there be a more descriptive name?—Madison would have written that if he only was a bit more woke and not so RACIST!!!
In another instance, again relying on Bogus’s paper, Anderson declares that among his ‘great rights,’ Madison discusses only ‘trial by jury, freedom of the press, and ‘liberty of conscience,’ and that the right to bear arms does not even “make the list.’ This, too, is extraordinarily misleading, as the quote comes from a Madison speech proposing the Bill of Rights in June 1789. Early in his argument, Madison mentions, in passing, some of the ‘great rights,’ before literally listing — ‘fourthly,’ in fact, right after freedom of religion and assembly — the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.’
Anderson is a—what’s the word?–Liar? Yes. That’s it. One need not be terribly well read in the writings of the founding to know what she, through the aptly named Bogus, claims are outrageous lies. Anderson’s thesis is also obliterated by the writings of early black civil rights advocates:
Civil-rights leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries also lamented that the right to self-defense was denied them. Fredrick Douglass reacted to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 by editorializing that the best remedy would be ‘a good revolver, a steady hand, and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap.’ The late-19th-century civil-rights leader Ida B. Wells argued that one of the lessons of the post–Civil War era, ‘which every Afro American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.’ T. Thomas Fortune, another black civil-rights activist of the era, argued that it was with a Winchester that the black man could ‘defend his home and children and wife.’
Clearly, Anderson’s book should suffer the same fate as Bellesiles’. Just as CRT/Equity/Anti-merit/Anti-Racism cracktivists argue the only way to redeem past discrimination is by even more discrimination in the present, fighting supposed racism with lies is no less destructive, dishonorable and evil. Circa June, 2021, race-based lies that would diminish our liberty are the last thing America needs.
Sorry gun grabbers; this one isn’t going to work either.