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The Founding Fathers and Hagiography

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    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    What is hagiography you ask?  I just recently learned the term, and thought it applied perfectly to the way many on the American right attempt to argue for many of their positions.  Hagiography is defined as an "idealizing or idolizing biography."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagiography  Gives more info on this interesting concept.

    Let's not forget how many of our Tea Party friends talk about the founding of our country, as if God wrote the constitution himself!  Michelle Bachmann, a huge Tea Party favorite, once claimed, "The founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery" (my emphasis).  False and absurd! 

    Then, there is always the rhetorical strategy that calling something "constitutional" ends arguments about it, but which implicitly assumes everything in the Constitution is prime facie true, which would imply the founders were philosophically inerrant (some of the document is true, no doubt; however, independent arguments must be provided for positions.  Libertarians claim the income tax is immoral, but in the United States, it is "constitutional."  So members of the right can even accept this argument!). 

    My charge is that, many of the jingoistic members of the right, which includes much of the Tea Party, are basically trying to present hagiographies of our founders as historical facts, which is simply inaccurate, and committed enough that I think deserves the name of a formal fallacy.  Perhaps the fallacy of historical revisionism?  I'm open to suggestions, and if this fallacy does have a name, let me know!

    1. Shadesbreath profile image90
      Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      No, fallacious arguments don't need fancy terms. Socrates and his two illustrious students pretty much defined it all for the rest of us. Obviously there is some particular political something or other that has you all in a fluster, but I assure you, the left is just as fond of quoting the founding fathers out of context for their designs as well.

      What I wish you would have done is argue for thinking and reason. For the careful examination of claims and the supporting evidence.

      Sadly, pretty much nobody who goes off on a "THE LEFT..." or on a "THE RIGHT..." argument has any interest in truth, so, I have a bad feeling that, while you may mean well, you probably do the exact thing you area complaining against, just in different ways, or even in the exact same way but you conveniently forget when because, when you did it, it was "true." It's only not "true" when those other guys do it, because they don't get it. Because of how stupid they are. Etc.

      America isn't just fat in body, it's fat in its mind.

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        Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Such strong accusations with little evidence to back them up!

        Nowhere did I claim the left did not do the same thing, but it is obvious in modern political discourse that the left does not deify the founders the way the right does.  If you point out the constitution was written by slaveholders, or that the United States has not always taken the moral high road in foreign policy, you are called a communist, fascist, unpatriotic by many conservatives.

        The left isn't going around saying the constitution is divine revelation.  While your point about the left is I'm sure true, the prevalence of THIS particular fallacy is more widespread in the American right.

        1. Shadesbreath profile image90
          Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          LOL, you jump on my claims for having "so little evidence to back them up" and you have none either. Welcome to the Internet. Which is why my point was not to prove how empty your arguments are but to lament that nobody seems to care how empty THEIR OWN ARGUMENTS are.


          However, if Jefferson, or Washington, or even just some politician back then who didn't go the wall in open and career-destroying defiance of slavery has some great quote that speaks to some ideal that you hold dear, like freedom of the press maybe, or some other civil right.. well, you'll quote the sh!t out of that with no memory of this conversation.

          You need to take a big, long, deep breath and look not at what your points are. I'm not arguing with your points. You have points. Some of them I agree with. Some of them I think are terrible and destructive to the nation. That's how politics works. However, before anything can be solved, you have to look at HOW YOU ARE ARGUING your points. You are accusing your "enemy" (who happens to be on the same side as you actually) of all these things they do, and you are doing exactly what you say they are doing, but in a different way. And since you are so full of your own righteous certainty, so positive you SEE IT RIGHT and the other guys doesn't, you dont' even realize you ARE the other guy.

          That is why America is in the crapper right now. You think you have it all figured out. The other side thinks they have it all figured out. Some other people think you and the other side are both idiots and that they actually have it all figured out. You're all pissed off, all fired up, all raging and posting crap on the Internet that supports your claims but ignores every last part of what good rhetoric really means.

          I'm not arguing with your stance, dude. Have whatever opinion you want. My problem with you, and everyone like you, on "both" sides is that none of you are really listening or thinking. You're all making dumb arguments trying to prove how this "side" or that one is misusing the founding fathers quotes.

          America is doomed.

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            Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

            You have misunderstood what I was trying to say.  If you look at my intro profile, you would understand I am not trying to argue that the founders owned slaves, therefore everything they say is wrong!  Clearly that is an absurd argument, and one the Tea Party likes to use when they say "Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong."

            I use the example of: If Hitler made a great argument for outlawing vegetables, the argument would stand, regardless of the source.  I pointed out that there is a lot of good in the constitution.  I cannot really understand why you glossed over so much and misunderstood me.

            The point is simply the deification of the founders and some people believing they could do absolutely no wrong, which is actually quite dangerous in itself.

            1. Shadesbreath profile image90
              Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              And if you were in the mood to make a fair argument of that point, you would point out that both "sides" do it constantly and all the time. That is my whole issue with your approach here. You keep saying "the right" does this, and you are apparently suffering from some sort of weird, inexplicable inability to recognize how endlessly it happens from the left as well. I totally dig the idea of an honest, open, reasonable examination of assumptions, but when you say "the right does this" you crap all over your credibility because it is so easy to see that everyone exploits whatever they can when they have an agenda, and the founding fathers are sacred in their way to the culture, for both parties. But you won't admit that, and your argument is that only conservatives do it. So, yeah. Be honest and admit dumbass morons do what you are talking about, point out all the dumbasses on both sides, admit it's everywhere, and then try to make a real point that we can talk about. That's my point.

    2. 59
      whoisitposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Actually they did work tirelessly to end slavery, they just were not able to come to a compromise that would end it. History is there for all to read.

      1. Shadesbreath profile image90
        Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        OMG, someone who reads.

        Isn't it sad that such grotesque percentages of the people who vote and protest and whine and share idiotic nonsense on Facebook and elsewhere online have zero awareness of something as simple as that? And even if you point it out, they'll argue or blow it off, because it's inconvenient for the opinion they like having, the one that enables them to post more dumb, unthinking drivel tomorrow. What would they do on Facebook if they had to limit themselves to facts or even just well reasoned argument?

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        Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Ah revisionist history is rearing its head, and you are the perfect example of the types of people I am talking about.

        Not every founder endorsed slavery.  I didn't make that claim either, and some did try to fight to end it, but there was no organized effort by every founder (the majority did own slaves) to abolish slavery everywhere in the United States, and especially a tireless one. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top … nd-Slavery

        Maybe the culture of the time forced their hands when it came to actually banning slavery (though I would not have insisted on states that depended heavily on slavery in my newly formed country); however, there was nothing that forced them to OWN slaves, such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and anyone who would own a slave is, at least partially, a morally defective human being.

        1. 59
          whoisitposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Wow, revisionist history? Not every founder believed in slavery? Yeah, that's why they debated it! Did you miss that part?

    3. 0
      Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Eh.........I don't know anyone who classifies the Founding Fathers as saints, nor anyone who worships them,  nor anyone who thinks they were superhuman, nor anyone who thinks they were perfect.

      I personally just respect their actions and the Constitution's rules and basis. 
      Their legacy is most certainly much better than the current lawmakers we have.  It is "the Left" that could be labeled as "revisionist" because indeed (many of them) want to revise not only our Constitution but our whole way of American life.    There, I said it, yes I did---the Left.   I think that name is well-deserved.  And indeed is much more fitting and easier to understand than "hagiography" or whatever.    The "Right" is easy to understand too.   The Right is what's right.   Simple.  What's the deal with people always trying to complicate something that's so simple?

      By the way, there is no such thing as "too far Right".   There is only Left, too far Left, and Right, and Wrong.   Nobody can be "too" right.  lol.    If they start veering from what's right, then they've turned left.

      And thanks for the mention of Michelle Bachmann.   She would've made a decent President, even though she is a woman.

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        Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I agree with a lot of your points Brenda.

        The founders put in some amazing rights (which were not unique to them "discovering), such as freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and even the right to bear arms!

        My only point is the typical characterization of the founders by many (not ALL) on the right, mostly conservatives, but a few libertarians are guilty of this as well, though not nearly to the same degree, is fundamentally flawed and needs to be thought of in a more accurate form, and not in some sort of right-wing fantasy about the founders being demi-gods and our current government steering away from "original intention," whatever definition you would like to supply to that.

    4. 0
      Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Well,  you can add Obama's name and lotsa "Democrats" to that list of "hagiographers" or whatever.    In his Inaugural speech today, Obama called Martin Luther King an actual "King",  and the woman who did the invocation prayed to anyone "who's holy".     There are other examples too,  before this and during this.   But indeed the Republicans nor the Tea Party have a monopoly on hagiography.    The Left is known for worshipping many people and many things.

  2. snakeslane profile image81
    snakeslaneposted 3 years ago

    Interesting conversation, one of the more interesting I've read recently on the forums. I like the sound of listening and thinking. What a novel concept.

    1. 0
      Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I try to always be interesting, whether you agree or disagree with me.

  3. innersmiff profile image87
    innersmiffposted 3 years ago

    The new 'Lincoln' film could be classed as a Hagio-Pic.

    Yes, this is why I focus on the moral debate rather than the constitutional debate. I don't care what right  is granted or not granted in the constitution, I am only interested in whether it is actually a right.

    1. 0
      Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Which is exactly the right approach, and why I have respect for you.

      I'm guessing I know the answer to this already (yes), but I'm going to ask anyway.  Have you ever read Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick?

      1. innersmiff profile image87
        innersmiffposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I haven't actually, but judging from what I have heard about it, Nozick and I agree on a lot. I credit Murray Rothbard, Stefan Molyneux, Frederic Bastiat and Ron Paul for my libertarian/anarchist 'awakening', haha.

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          Sooner28posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Bastiat is an interesting fellow.  I haven't read Rothbard or Molyneux though.

  4. 0
    Aleister888posted 3 years ago

    I do hear where you are coming from, there are quite a lot of people now days, that use quote and philosophies that surround the founding fathers to prove their own particular agendas...

    While im not from America, watching from across the other side of the world it does seem that the media is very split among the whole left / right paradigm in and of itself, so while yes, there are those in the tea party movement that cling onto philosophical ideas that the constitution is the "be all end all" at the same time, but just in other ways, most of the mainstream American political parties do this in one way or another.

    Very interesting thread, and i hope i didn't step on anyone's toes, that's just my two cents big_smile

    1. Shadesbreath profile image90
      Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      The Tea Party had this really weird sort of value, like chemo therapy for cancer. It has to happen, but it can easily do more damage than good. Sadly, in this case, it ended up practically killing the patient. The repulican party is a joke, none of the candidates are remotely supportable, and worse, they are too weak now to defend against what is going to be a brutal assault on the Constitution, completely fear based and irrational by the democratic party which has become the party of fear, the exact thing the founding fathers warned about a zillion times over. So, the irony is painful. Everyone loses, even the people who think they are winning. When the state is installing the observation cameras in everyone's homes to make sure they are parenting correctly and eating the correct proportion of approved foods, taking the correct state mandated vaccines etc, all in the name of public safety of course, those people are going to be like, "Wow, uh, this is horrible. This is like 1984 on crack." And then the responsible, bewildered, overrun-by-the-tea-party republicans are going to shake our heads as we are getting our 14th cavity search of the month, and go, "Yeah, it sucks alright. Too bad you guys were so swift to capitalize on those shooting tragedies. We had no way to defend against this like the founding fathers tried to build for us after their experience getting hosed by a tyrant. Sorry to hear they sent your mom to the gas chamber. She never should have spoken up for Jesus, much less registered her rifle. That was reckless."

      1. habee profile image91
        habeeposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        LOVE your analogy, Shady!

      2. 0
        Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        This should be run as a breaking news segment on Fox, MSNBC, CNN, and all the others.  Absolutely brilliant exposition on what's happening right now, IMO.  How is it that people who think the way you do - and the way I do - get slapped into corners while the extreme nutcases wind up in control?

  5. Kathryn L Hill profile image83
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    There is no reason to dis the founding fathers...
    At All.
    They were sent by God to give this land freedom. Freedom from the tyranny of England and Freedom to the people in general. This country is not guaranteed to survive. We are past the 200 year mark when most democracies fail.

                                                        Is that what you want?

    It is better to analyze the Founding Fathers and determine what they wanted for the people in their new land. Our land is still new. If anything We need to revisit the founding fathers and not dis them. We need to keep their message in our hearts. Independence is what they want for us.
                                                         It is up to us to love it.
                                                                   and keep it.

                                                     What, specifically, is wrong with
                                                         I n d e p e n d e n c e ????

  6. Kathryn L Hill profile image83
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    The founding fathers brought Power to the People!
    Do you not want the people to have power?
    The founding fathers brought freedom to the People,
    Do you  w a n t  to be taken over by some huge tyrannic force, say, China/ Russia, or the New World Order's One World Government?
    You better get ready for the fight of your life. There is a sleeping giant in this country. It will rise to defend this land... to keep this land... to protect the freedom and independence that we have been
                                                             g i v e n
    Maybe not you, but there are multitudes of individuals here in this country willing to die right here and right now in order to prevent ANY force that threatens to take away the rights that we now have and that future generations could have. The rights secured for us by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay,  and James Madison.
    What do you not love about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happinness for us and posterity?
    Get off the stick and get with the program, I say!
    Try reading the Federalist Papers.
    Buy your copy today!

  7. LauraD093 profile image85
    LauraD093posted 3 years ago

    Another interesting forum I and my Java-Juiced mind thank you. I have nothing to add it has already been  addressed and most eloquently by previous posters. Keep them coming Sooner28. Oh and you and Shadesbreath debate nice ok?

  8. Kathryn L Hill profile image83
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    So, what did the Tea party members do, specifically, that has angered everyone so much?

  9. Kathryn L Hill profile image83
    Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago

    Men wrote the Constitution. Better men than any in this country today.


    1. Shadesbreath profile image90
      Shadesbreathposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      That's not quite true. I think there are great men in this country (and women now, because we actually listen to our women publicly today ... thanks to the freedoms afforded us by those men from the early days). The problem is, back then, the great men of whom we speak did not seek power for the sake of power. They ended up seizing power because the powers-that-be was an a-hole King and a bunch of stuffy douches across the pond who sent lackeys over to bully the colonies around. They had no choice but to seek power.

      Today, the people in power are the people who want to be in power. They are, in the largest numbers, the wealthy and privileged elite (how else did we get two Bushes and are probably going to get a third?). We have corporate kings and they appoint their lackeys to positions in BOTH parties and they bully the states around. The states, especially the high-populace ones like California and New York, are the same thing in miniature.

      There are great men in America. They just don't seek power. Because the tyrant is no longer an ocean a way, and the tyrant is diffuse over so many different companies and complex financial syndicates...er networks, and because the tyrants and their douche cohorts own the media and use it as a tool to keep us all arguing on Facebook with stupid, unthinking images spouting the most insidious and divisive fallacies, there is no incentive for the great men of our nation to try to lead. If they open their mouths, even a little, they get mashed like little buck-toothed gophers in a Whack-a-Mole game.

      Worse, when they do speak, what they have to say is complicated, because the problems are complicated, and Americans are too busy texting to actually read. Don't blame our problems on a lack of brilliant men, blame it on a lack of interested citizens, as in actually interested not just looking for the most feel-good one liner pasted on a Facebook photograph. I guess it's going to take the king forcing us to house his soldiers to set the citizenry off in support of true leaders, but by then, we'll have been disarmed ... having, apparently, learned nothing from the last time.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image83
        Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Well, John Adams would not be sitting idly by.