American History According to the Tea Party


American Prospect
American History According to the Tea Party
May 13, 2011


Along with Mike Huckabee, the Tea Party Patriots are trying to reach out to America’s youth with a wildly distorted version of the nation’s history:

As part of the “adopt a school” campaign, TPP and its members are advising school officials to rely on lesson plans, DVDs, and a package of other course materials created by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). The group was founded by Cleon Skousen, a rabid anti-Communist with a highly controversial take on American history. Skousen, who died in 2006, was the author of Glenn Beck’s favorite book on the Constitution, The 5,000 Year Leap. Among other things, he promoted the idea that the Constitution is a divine document that may have biblical roots.

As part of his curriculum, Skousen required attendees to recite his “28 Principles of Liberty”, which includes boilerplate like “Mankind are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights,” and absolute gems like, “The United States has a manifest destiny to eventually become a glorious example of God’s law under a restored Constitution that will inspire the entire human race.” I spoke briefly with Doug Kendall of the Constitutional Accountability Center, who issued a statement criticizing the Tea Party Patriots for this move to bring Skousen’s ideology into public schools. Summing up the National Center for Constitutional Studies’ curriculum, he called it “a combination of banality and rank partisanship that is both odd and disturbing.” That sounds about right.

I should say that there is some cause for concern. In Texas, to use one example, Tea Party members pushed through a radical revision of the social studies curriculum which echoed material written by Skousen and the National Center for Constitutional Studies. Most students won’t have to worry about this pseudo-history, but some will, and that’s a legitimate problem.