Today, I stumbled across an article on McClatchy News Services. The story is about a resurgence of energy in the tea party movement and their renewed efforts to reach out to citizens through civic and religious organizations. It seems part of the civic outreach includes offering classes – free (donations encouraged) – on the Constitution.
One organization offering classes is the United American Tea Party. The text for this class is The 5000 Year Leap. In case you aren’t familiar with this book/movement, here’s a 3 minute primer:
The 5000 Year Leap was written by radical right-winger W. Cleon Skousen. Rod Dreher (Crunchy Con) writing for BeliefNet in 2009 called Skousen a far-right Mormon nutter and Glenn Beck guru. Salon contributor, Alexander Zaitchik wrote that Skousen was a “right-wing crank whom conservatives despised” until discovered and held up on high by one Glenn Beck.
And – what a bonus! – according to the United American Tea Party website, The 5000 Year Leap class is accredited by the National Center for Constitutional Studies.
Sounds official doesn’t it?
But, visit the NCCS website and you will find out it it is a clearing house for The 5000 Year Leap teaching packets, religious history instruction, Glenn Beck’s recommended “American Classics” series and Original Intent by right-wing Christian pseudo-historian and Constitutional revisionist David Barton.
Another tea party organization offering up dubious Constitutional scholarship is The Beaufort Tea Party in Beaufort, South Carolina. They recently held the first of three Constitution courses that, according to The Island Packet of Hilton Head, teaches the basics of U.S. government. The instructor is Daniel Yorksie a retired aerospace engineer. I searched for constitutional teaching credentials for Mr. Yorksie but was unable to find any.
The Eureka Tea Party has enlisted former 2004 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik as their Constitutional historian. On their website, you can watch a series of Mr. Badnarik’s lectures and take quizzes online to test your resulting knowledge. Tom Wassa who proclaims on his Facebook page: “When Obama shows me his Birth Certificate, I fill out all the questions on the Census,” and, “Education doesn’t come in the form of textbooks!” will be your Constitutional instructor for the Western Thumb Tea Party group. In a society that has grown to value and recognize the need for ongoing separation of church and state, these “classes” taught by conservative ideologues* should be cause for concern. Though the tea party claims no party affiliation, this treatment of our country’s greatest document lean much too far to the right.
Sources, further reading, etc.
- Learn the Constitution website – featuring the 5000 year leap
- A real Constitutional scholar – Jonathan Turley
- The Constitution
- The Federalist Papers
- Anti-Federalist Papers
- These are just a few examples of the tea party’s teaching efforts. Give it a go – Google “tea party constitution classes” for yourself.
- *I wouldn’t categorize Badnarik as a conservative, but he isn’t a Constitutional scholar…