Thursday, June 21, 2007

History Comes Alive

They say it’s impossible to hate someone who makes you laugh. If this is true, Carol Iannone never need fear my enmity:

[I]n my view the ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution arise from strains other than Roman Catholicism per se, more from the Reformation and the Enlightenment, although of course they build on the whole structure of European thought, including the Christian/Catholic Middle Ages. (They do also build to some extent on the ancient world as well, I think, particularly Rome.)
I really don’t know what I like best about this paragraph. Is it her scrupulous use of “in my view,” and “I think,” in order to ease the reader into her tentative divergence from a belief that no sane person holds? Is it her unexpected and oddly piquant distinction between “Roman Catholicism per se” (!) and the Reformation? Or is it the fact that her argument boils down to little more than the idea that the Founders were influenced by stuff about things?

It’s probably the latter, since it allows her to leap to the entertaining conclusion that if they’d they believed other stuff about different things, our nation would be unrecognizable today:
I believe Samuel Huntington is correct when he writes that the United States would not be the country it is today if it had been settled in the 17th and 18th centuries not by British Protestants, but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics. If that had been the case, it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.
Got that? If California had been settled by Spanish Catholics, it would’ve been Mexico. And if French Catholics had settled in Maine and Louisiana, and Dutch explorers who honored the Union of Utrecht had settled in New Netherland…well, you get the idea.

Given her all-but-omniscient historical perspective, you can’t really blame Iannone for getting a bit impatient with the dullards and ideologues who teach at America’s colleges.

(Illustration at top: New Amsterdam, 1640.)


Anonymous said...

Well, the Christian Church, before the Reformation, can be taken to have been the Roman Catholic Church. And many ideas of governance were developed therin, or in opposition.

We may take the Magna Carta (1215, before the Reformation), which may have been according to Church laws, or in opposition. The kings of England at that point had been rather uppity, including Henry's rather nasty treatment of Becket a few decades earlier. Or maybe that was the barons.

So you see that our well-respected principle of plausible deniablility comes directly from the Church, or maybe that was "don't ask, don't tell."

We can also see the forerunning of Cheneyite democracy in St. Domenic's purported statement, "Kill them all, God will know his own." (1236, in the crusade against heretics in southern France.)

And I could go on and on, with the great tax and spend projects of the 13th-century cathedrals.

Um, that was what you were talking about, wasn't it?


Phila said...

Um, that was what you were talking about, wasn't it?

Something like that. Or possibly something else.

The important thing is, this is a country founded on Faith.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather hate her than you, 'cause you really made me laugh aloud :-D

I wish everyone had your withering wit, or failing that, a little bit of sense...