Kinchlow’s Ignorant Dream of America


In my early teen years, I loved Ben Kinchlow. I would watch the 700 Club and thought he was just so smart and charming. In fact, the man is staggeringly ignorant and a poster child for the Dunning-Kruger effect. His latest Worldnetdaily column is so inane that it made me literally laugh out loud when I read this:

It is only when one looks objectively at history that the truly remarkable nature of the republic of the United States of America is shown in its true context. America is the first example in human history of a nation where people were given the right to vote, elect representatives and determine their own political fate.

This will come as a big surprise to the founding fathers themselves, many of whom wrote at considerable length about the examples of democracy in Pericles’ Athens, the Roman Republic and other democratic societies. The word “democracy” comes from ancient Greece, for crying out loud, and this is not a coincidence. One could also point to the Tynwald, the world’s oldest parliament, which has been in operation on the Isle of Man for more than a thousand years. Sometimes I think that “American exceptionalism” really means that we can be exceptionally stupid about pretending that we were the first and only great society. It’s ego-stroking idiocy at its finest.

There is a French movie (filmed in 1989, six hours long, with English subtitles) that chronicles the French Revolution from beginning to end. The horror and brutality encompassed in striving for liberté, égalité, fraternité by the French, in their drive for freedom, is unimaginable to Americans, of almost every group, who strove for liberty and equality in America.

The definitive differences between these two struggles for liberty are contained in the founding principles of the United States. The framers of the Constitution were putting into practice that which was stated in the Declaration of Independence: “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. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (emphasis added).

It is the phrase, “endowed by their Creator” that provides the “indispensable supports” articulated by George Washington. These foundational concepts have been proven true beyond a shadow of a doubt. America has produced a society of free, sovereign, self-directed individuals who, with their inherent abilities, have created a veritable paradise compared to most of the world.

I always laugh when I see something like this from conservatives. It always reminds me of this bit by David Cross:

We have, on the whole, tended to be a moral and devout people. At home, we made a choice to end slavery, even at the cost of a bloody Civil War.

Well that’s certainly interesting framing, don’t you think? We’re a moral people and we proved that by having to kill half a million people just to get rid of the unbelievably immoral institution of slavery, which was justified by reference to the Bible that Kinchlow thinks is the inerrant word of God because it endorses slavery repeatedly.

Abroad, again and again, we have chosen to side with less powerful nations when they have been attacked by aggressors. Americans have reached out at home and abroad with the hand of charity to people who are hurting.

Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick. Seriously? Reached out with the hand of charity? Tell that to the people of Iran being tortured under the Shah. Or the victims of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, King Abdullah, Fulgencio Batista, François and Jean-Baptiste Duvalier, Rios Montt, the Somoza family and many more. The United States has, since the late 1800s, supported one brutal dictator after another around the world. Even in World War 2, we watched as Hitler, Mussolini and the emperor of Japan ran over country after country, only getting involved when we were attacked directly. This goes way beyond rose-colored thinking, this is utter delusion.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    “The horror and brutality encompassed in striving for liberté, égalité, fraternité by the French, in their drive for freedom, is unimaginable to Americans, of almost every group, who strove for liberty and equality in America.”

    Because the American Civil War was just so gentiel as was the Reconstruction and the various civil rights movement – nothing messy or violent about these.

  2. Pen says

    It’s funny that he praises the American Revolution for being less bloody than the French one then praises the American Civil War for being bloody in a virtuous cause without once realizing that the French Revolution tried to achieve the goals of both those American events at once (substituting the privileges of the aristocracy and institutionalized oppression of the working population for slavery)

  3. dingojack says

    Apparently women weren’t people until 1920 (too bad these ‘non-people had been voting in NZ and Australia for 27 years and 19 years [and able to stand for political office too], respectively).
    @@
    Dingo

  4. John Pieret says

    America is the first example in human history of a nation where people were given the right to vote, elect representatives and determine their own political fate.

    Jeez. Has he ever been in the vicinity of an American History book? The main complaint of the colonists was that they were being taxed without representation in Parliament. People in England were represented in Parliament but the colonists weren’t. Hello?!?!

  5. wscott says

    Americans have reached out at home and abroad with the hand of charity to people who are hurting.

    I’ll give him partial credit for this one. Yes, the US government has supported some horrific villains. But we also lead the world in foreign aid and (mostly private) humantarian relief. Yeah, that’s partly because we’re such a rich country to begin with, but the generosity of Americans in terms of international aid is hard to dispute.

  6. says

    The United States has, since the late 1800s, supported one brutal dictator after another around the world.

    Yes, but America did it for Freedom. And the United Fruit Company. Which is like Freedom, but better, because the Little People don’t get it dirty with their callused, grubby hands. Still, Freedom.

  7. matty1 says

    The definitive differences between these two struggles for liberty are contained in the founding principles of the United States. The framers of the Constitution were putting into practice that which was stated in the Declaration of Independence: “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

    From the preamble to the Declaration of the Rights of Man – 1789

    Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:

    Emphasis, as you say, added.

  8. dingojack says

    According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development :

    List of countries by foreign aid given in 2012 as percentage of GDP:
    1. Luxembourg – 1.00%
    2. Sweden – 0.99%
    3. Norway – 0.93%
    4. Denmark – 0.84%
    5. Netherlands – 0.71%
    6. United Kingdom – 0.56%
    7. Finland – 0.53%
    8. Ireland – 0.48%
    9. Belgium – 0.47%
    10. France- 0.45%
    11. Switzerland – 0.45%
    12. Germany – 0.38%
    13. Australia – 0.36%
    14. Canada – 0.32%
    15. Austria – 0.28%
    16. New Zealand – 0.28%
    17. Portugal – 0.27%
    18. Iceland – 0.22%
    19. United States – 0.19%
    20. Japan – 0.17%
    21. Spain – 0.15%
    22. South Korea – 0.14%
    23. Italy – 0.13%
    24. Greece – 0.13%

    [emphasis mine]

    Dingo

  9. matty1 says

    Also worth noting that according to wikipedia Lafayette himself claimed to have been influenced by the US D of I and to have consulted Thomas Jefferson, who was in France at the time, regarding the French declaration.

  10. D. C. Sessions says

    Dingo, that list is biased. It excludes most of the USA’s foreign aid.

    Add back our subsidies to weapons exports and we’re close to the top of the list.

  11. dingojack says

    Unfortunately, weapons and remittances are not counted as aid in official terms, sorry.
    ;) Dingo

  12. Kevin Kehres says

    Oh FFS: GREAT BRITAIN had a Parliament at the time of the Revolution.

    The Founding Fathers wanted representation in Parliament. The British Parliament. Only when that was denied did they move on to the next logical step.

    My esteem for you dropped a notch, Ed, knowing that you once admired this moron. I know — you got better — but still.

  13. scienceavenger says

    The horror and brutality encompassed in striving for liberté, égalité, fraternité by the French, in their drive for freedom, is unimaginable to Americans

    He should look up “spicketing”, a grisley form of retribution performed during the American Revolution.

    This guy sounds like a poster boy for a book I’m reading “Lies my Teacher Told Me”. Apparently he bought them all.

  14. Chuck says

    Sometimes I think that “American exceptionalism” really means that we can be exceptionally stupid about pretending that we were the first and only great society.

    I believe that’s actually a lot closer to what Tocqueville meant than what today’s conservatives take it to mean.

  15. says

    “We have, on the whole, tended to be a moral and devout people. At home, we made a choice to end slavery, even at the cost of a bloody Civil War.”

    Funny thing is, every other country decided to end slavery without having to resort to bloody civil war, and killing hundreds of thousands of it’s own citizens.

  16. Mobius says

    Love the clip by Cross. He definitely nails the hypocrisy of the extreme Right when it comes to pointing to America’s shortfalls.

  17. wscott says

    @ dingo #9. Fair enough. Tho we are actually first in terms of actual dollars – due to our large GDP as I stated.
    .
    But I was really thinking more about private humanitarian relief, rather than government aid (tho I mentioned both). If you want to pull up some stats for that, I’d be interested to see them. But, you know, not interested enough to actually go looking for them myself.

  18. lorn says

    An interesting take. that the colonial fight for independence and the French revolution were separate issues. Given that French philosophy inspired the revolutionary war, French money financed the war, French naval power, artillery, and officers were vital to the effort. That the French gave so much wealth away financing the colonial side of the revolutionary war that they lacked sufficient left to placate the peasantry. That this is one of the main things that triggered the French revolution. Interesting, if you don’t understand that without the French there would be no United States.

    I’m also a bit leery about assigning any great virtue to “God given rights”. God, should such a creature exist, may grant rights. But he/she/it doesn’t raise a fucking finger to protect them.

    Establishing and maintaining rights has always been a matter of finding other human beings willing to recognize and accept them and visit violence upon those who violate them.

  19. Nick Gotts says

    the French Revolution tried to achieve the goals of both those American events at once (substituting the privileges of the aristocracy and institutionalized oppression of the working population for slavery) – Pen@3,/blockquote>

    In addition, the elected French National Convention proclaimed the abolition of slavery on February 4, 1794, although the decree was ignored by many slave-holders in the French colonies. The abolition was confirmed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1795. Napoleon reintroduced slavery in 1802.

  20. freehand says

    One might ask if the American revolution might not have been bloodier if we had Parliament and the British army right here in the colonies…
    You know, like the French had. Cheek to jowl, as it were, peasant and soldier, academic and priest, debtor and tax collector.

  21. says

    So he’s asserting that the victorious revolutionists in America refrained from slaughtering the British aristocracy because they were good and moral people who believed in God, and not because said aristocracy was on the other side of the Atlantic in the heart of a still-overwhelming military power where those revolutionaries had no realistic hope of getting at them?

  22. colnago80 says

    Re somnus @ #22

    Not to mention the thousands of Tories in the colonies who fled to Canada.

  23. grumpyoldfart says

    There’s only one reason Kinchlow is still in the business and still making money.

    His target audience believes every word he tells them (egotistical twits).

  24. dingojack says

    “At home, we made a choice to end slavery, even at the cost of a bloody Civil War.”

    And how did the English (the former colonial masters) do it, and when?
    Oh yeah that’s right, about 20 to 30 years earlier and by legislation and judicial action*, rather than ‘bloody civil war’**.

    Dingo
    ——–
    * “Slavery was finally abolished throughout the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, with exceptions provided for the East India Company, Ceylon, and Saint Helena. These exceptions were eliminated in 1843.”
    ** If the rebels had lost in the 1770’s, ironically, the slaves would have ceased to be traded in 31 years and freed in 57 years. Instead it took 88 (to 188) years thanks to ‘American Exceptionalism’

  25. cactuswren says

    (CN for child sexual abuse and implicit victim-blaming):

    My mother watched 700 Club off and on for a long time. I have a vivid memory from the 1980s, at the height of the child-sexual-abuse panic, the time of the McMartin Preschool trials; Kinchlow, then the show’s co-host, was interviewing someone (a psychologist?) on this topic. In direct address to any children who might be watching and being victimized in such a way, the guest said (paraphrased), “If you’re being abused in this way or in any way, tell someone. If you can’t tell a parent, tell an aunt or uncle, or a teacher, or a minister, or a policeman.”

    And Kinchlow stopped him to put in (again, paraphrased), “And when you speak to your minister, be sure and tell him you’re sorry for your sins, and want to acceptthelordjesuschristasyourpersonalsavior.”

    Leaving aside that he wasn’t able to let a single mention of religion go by without putting in a sales pitch for his own …

    … Kinchlow apparently failed to realize that any small child who was watching this (I console myself that there can’t have been many) would have heard these two clauses, added them together, and very likely arrived at the sum “Tell your minister you’re sorry for your sin of being molested.”

  26. steve84 says

    And let’s not forget the gentle, loving way the great American democracy treated the natives…

  27. dingojack says

    Sadly, murdering, molesting and generally mistreating the natives isn’t an example of ‘American Exceptionalism’ either.
    :( Dingo

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