Wrong and Dangerous by Garrett Epps

book jacket with scrap of Constitution showingWrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about Our Constitution by Garrett Epps (2012)

This slim volume is a fun read (the touches of sarcasm are a delight) about what the Constitution actually says and directly refutes right-wing claims to the contrary. Excellent notes and list of books for further reading by categories like “the Bill of Rights” and an appendix that provides the actual text of the Constitution plus the first version that failed to meet the needs of the nation due to lack of sufficient federal authority over states’ rights. Personally, I long for the day that the entire concept of “states’ rights” is abolished. My rights as a citizen should not depend on geography. States’ rights is a vestigial concept leftover from the fear of a central “kingdom” type of government.

I may write the author and suggest he dedicate another volume to the Fourteenth Amendment, and social justice issues related to it that have had Supreme Court (bad or good) rulings, especially in the area of racism and sexism.

The Ten Big Myths are discussed in ten chapters. There are so many lies that the ignorant and simply willfully ignorant statements the conservatives like to spout and repeat as if that would make it factual must have made it hard to stick to just ten falsehoods for the book!

  1. The Right Is “Originalist”; Everyone Else Is “Idiotic”
  2. The “Purpose” of the Constitution Is to Limit Congress
  3. Congress Has Stretched the Commerce Power Beyond Its Proper Limits
  4. The Constitution Doesn’t Separate Church and State
  5. Equality and Self-Government Are “Wholly Foreign to the First Amendment”
  6. The Second Amendment Allows Citizens to Threaten Government
  7. The Tenth Amendment Protects “States’ Rights” and “State Sovereignty”
  8. The Fourteenth Amendment is Obsolete and Irrelevant
  9. Election of Senators Destroys “States Rights”
  10. International Law Is a Threat to the Constitution

Thomas Jefferson has always kind of been like my favorite Beatle of the Founding Fathers. Mainly because the man was a serious reader and it was his personal library that he sold to the government that restocked the Library of Congress after it was destroyed in the War of 1812 (note, to be fair, we burned their library in Toronto first). I often cite Jefferson’s “I cannot live without books.” as a mantra so to speak. But I am coming around to real serious respect for James Madison who is, in fact, the Father of the Constitution (Jefferson was in France).

So I will begin the discussion of the issues raised in this book with a quote from Jefferson cited in the Afterword: The Battle Ahead (p. 139) and as an epigraph:

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people recovering their true sight restore their government to its true principles.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor 1798

Once again, had to return to library, so I guess I am going to have to make a category so I can find all the ones that are incomplete. But this one is very good.

Leave a Reply