I recently came across an article I wrote in response to some statements Newt Gingrich made in the July 10th, 1995 edition of Newsweek. He made the following statements which are in uppercase. My response to each comment follows.
The following quotations are statements that Newt Gingrich made in the July 10, 1995 edition of Newsweek.
THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
FROM THE JAMESTOWN COLONY AND THE PILGRIMS TO THE FOUNDING OF THE NATION, THE CENTRALITY OF GOD AND RELIGION IS UNMISTAKABLE.
Response: While most of the founding fathers may have believed in the divinity of Christ, most were skeptical of religion and usually used the term Providence rather than God. The founding Fathers were mostly Deists whose concept of a God was one who was remote and uninvolved with either the affairs of the Nation or of individuals.
Except for special occasions, Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin never attended church.
Jefferson rewrote the New Testament to conform to more enlightened views of the Deity; Washington wrote in 1796, “The government of the United States in not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.” On his deathbed he never mentioned God or religion and he left no money for religious causes in his will nor did he seek forgiveness for his relationship with his best friend’s wife, Sally Fairfax.
Franklin as American Ambassador to France was well-known as a libertine and a rake.
James Madison stated that whenever, ecclesiastical establishments had shaped civil society, they had supported political tyranny. Never had they protected the people’s liberties.”
LIBERALS ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY BY BLAMING EVERYTHING ON SOCIETY . . . THERE IS A NEWFOUND SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT AND OF VICTIMIZATION THAT IS CORROSIVE TO THE AMERICAN SPIRIT
Response: Is it avoiding personal responsibility to acknowledge that large corporations are selling our jobs overseas to the lowest bidder?
Is it avoiding personal responsibility when your company is taken over and you lose your job?
Is it avoiding personal responsibility to want good health care for your family and not being able to buy it because large insurance companies have preexisting exclusions?
Is it avoiding personal responsibility to want to own your own home and having de facto discrimination because you are a minority?
Is it avoiding personal responsibility to want a safe place to deposit your hard-earned money only to have savings and loans fail because of selfish acquisitions?
Is it avoiding personal responsibility or is it reality?
THE CLASSIC AMERICAN IS “AN INDEPENDENT, SELF-RELIANT, HARDWORKING, HONEST PERSON OF NO GREAT WEALTH, OR SOCIAL STATUS WHO NEVERTHELESS HAS GOOD SENSE, GREAT COURAGE, AND A FIERCE LOVE OF COUNTRY . . . REDISTRIBUTION SUBSIDIZES IDLENESS . . . NOTHING IS LESS AMERICAN THAN THE MODERN WELFARE SYSTEM
Response: This is a myth; there is no independent person in America. There never has been and never will be. Rather the true American is interdependent.
The cowboy riding off into the sunset did not pour the lead for his bullets; he bought them or traded for them.
The lonely farmer plowing the wheatfields and prairies of the Midwest did not grow his seed; he took out a loan for seed money.
The banker who loaned the farmer this seed money did not grow it on trees. He depended on depositors. No depositors, no loans.
Again, there never has been an independent person in America; there never will be. The same case could be made for the self-reliant person; we all rely on others to meet our needs physical, emotional or mental.
If this is true that we are all interdependent, then it behooves to look out for and care for each other. Is it not a form of redistribution and welfare (we all fare well) to support and meet others’ needs so that someday they meet our needs.
THE SPIRIT OF FREE ENTERPRISE
FROM OUR FOUNDING WE HAVE BEEN AN ASTONISHINGLY ENTREPRENEURIAL SOCIETY . . . AT EVERY LEVEL OF SOCIETY PEOPLE CAN IMPROVE THEIR OWN LOT . . .EVEN A PROFESSOR FROM A SMALL COLLEGE IN GEORGIA CAN ASPIRE TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT.
Response: Even though the Declaration of Independence clearly states that all men are created equal, colonial historian, Jack Greene says of the founding fathers that equality was only in the eyes of the law, no more, “No idea was further from their minds . . .. They meant no more than that each man should have an equal right to achieve the best material life that he could within the limits imposed upon him by his ability, means and circumstances.”
In other words, the all-American founders didn’t believe in the concept that any all American boy can grow up to be President. This of course doesn’t mean that we as a society can’t expand on the idea of equality.
THE SPIRIT OF INVENTION AND DISCOVERY
MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY, AMERICA HAS BEEN COMMITTED TO THE SPIRIT OF INVENTION AND DISCOVERY.
Response: When one examines the truth behind the legends of several American inventors, one is unmistakably led to the conclusion that several classic American stories of great inventors are myths.
Eli Whitney did not develop the principle of interchangeable firearm parts. A decade earlier, Honore Blanc, a Frenchman, made firing mechanisms for muskets that were interchangeable. This was witnessed by Thomas Jefferson.
The Cotton gin was an adaptation of a Santa Dominion model from the 1740’s. That model didn’t work well on the slippery seeds of American cotton. Whitney added an ineffective brush, but it was Hodgen Holmes who invented a more effective gin.
Robert Fulton didn’t invent the Steamboat, but perfected one built by James Rumsey of Virginia.
George Pullman stole the patent for the sleeping car from John Stephanson of the Eire Railroad Company through a long legal battle.
It has been well documented in many cases that when someone invents or discovers a new device such as a fuel efficient carburetor, large companies will buy up the product to protect their financial interests. There are many other cases that could be cited which space does not permit.
A SENSE OF ANXIETY HAS INCREASED IN AMERICA . . . CHILDREN BEING ABUSED OR KILLED, MOTHERS BEING MURDERED IN CAR-JACKINGS, INNOCENT CUSTOMERS SHOT IN ROBBERIES. YOUNG MEN ARE WITHOUT EDUCATION, WITHOUT JOBS, WITHOUT HOPE FOR THEIR OWN OR THEIR YOUNGER BROTHERS’ FUTURES.
Response: Aside from the interesting fact that Gingrich laments the hopelessness of young men’s futures and their brothers but says nothing about young women’s futures, there is an increased awareness and concern about crime. Yet, a hundred years ago, the Charleston News and Chronicle wrote that “murder and violence are the distinguishing marks of our civilization.” The crime rate between 1860 and 1890 rose more than twice as fast as the population.
Nor is it true that the justice system is more lenient these days than in the good old days. Did there ever exist a time when the sheriff got his man and locked him away for good. That time certainly wasn’t true in William Howard Taft’s day when Taft complained that laws so favored criminals that trials were “like a game of chance.”
Herbert Hoover complained that “In our desire to be merciful the pendulum has swung in favor of the prisoner and away from the protection of society.” The Wickersham and Seabury investigations in the 1930’s concluded “that the criminal has about a ninety-nine percent chance of escaping punishment.” Only 10 of over 700 paid assassinations in Chicago between the 1930’s and the early 1950’s were convicted.
In spite of all the above, more than 6.3 million jobs have been created in the last 2.5 years and the misery index, the combined measure of unemployment and inflation, is at its lowest in 25 years. That means that 6.3 million young men, their brothers, and presumably women are gainfully employed. The best solution against crime is a solid work force. Six and three tenths less criminals are on the streets now then 2.5 years ago.
THE CENTRAL CHALLENGE OF OUR GENERATION IS TO REASSERT AND RENEW OUR AMERICAN CIVILIZATION . . .. AN AMERICAN EMBRACES A SET OF VALUES AND LIVING HABITS THAT ARE 400 YEARS OLD.
Response: What are these 400 year-old values that Newt Gingrich espouses? A religion of Deism, copycat inventions, suppressed inventions, limitations placed on persons by position of ability, means and circumstances, and false independence where a cowboy pours his own bullets and farmers grow their own seeds, banks deposit their own money?
Or should we embrace the true spirit of American Liberalism? Interdependent, reality-based, and open to change, innovation and growth?