4th of July at the LA Times: Founding Fathers "A Bunch of Racist, Slave-Owning White Men"

July 4th, 2006 9:52 PM

If you thought the folks at the Los Angeles Times would use the Fourth of July to take a day off from spewing their usual bias and vitriol, think again. Readers of today's op-ed page (Tuesday, July 4, 2006) in the Times are greeted to this piece of bitterness by Mark Kurlansky, "Fathers don't always know best" (The title comes from the print edition; online, the title is, "WWFFD? Who cares?" We have already written about the discrepancy between the print and online titles at the Times here.).

Apparently, Kurlansky is not too impressed by the very people who founded our nation. He begins his column by listing reasons why the United States is such a horrible "backward democracy." And the blame, implies Kurlansky, lies at the feet of the Founding Fathers (emphasis mine):

We ought to do something. Instead, we keep worrying about the vision of a bunch of sexist, slave-owning 18th century white men in wigs and breeches. Even in the 18th century, the founding fathers were not the most enlightened thinkers available. They were the ones whose ideas prevailed. Those who favored independence but were not in favor of war are not called founding fathers. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania ...

Gee, and a Happy Fourth of July to you, too, Mark!

Someone might want to remind Mark that the very freedom of the press that he enjoys is owed not only to the men and women who have fought for its defense over the centuries, but also to the very men who enshrined it in our Constitution. Hey, Mark. Every country doesn't have this freedom.

(By the way, Kurlansky's piece also contains a whopper of bad writing. He begins his article by ranting, "I am sick and tired of the founding fathers and all their intents." Yet in his closing paragraph, he appeals, "So let us stop worshiping the founding fathers and allow our minds to progress and try to build a nation of great new ideas. That is, after all, the intent of the founding fathers." Apparently, Kurlansky is sick and tired of the intents of the Founding Fathers, but we should follow his premise because that was ... the ... intent ... of ... the Fathers. Good grief. Does anyone ever edit these articles besides their titles?)


Kurlansky is not the only killjoy today. Next to Kurlansky's sad opinion piece is the latest drivel from Joel "I Don't Support Our Troops" Stein. Apparently, Joel thought the Fourth of July would be a terrific day to belittle the American flag and the people who display it proudly. His article is, "Eek! A flag on my lawn!" As a promotion, a local realtor planted a small flag outside of Stein's house and at those of his neighbors. Is Stein grateful for the flag? Not in the least. As the title of his article suggests, Stein acts as if the flag were the equivalent of a poisonous vial of anthrax left in his driveway. Stein harps over his "panic" over the flag.

But my bigger panic was over what to do with it. I'm not a flag-waving kind of guy, but I knew damn well that I couldn't just throw it in the trash. Throwing away a flag is very, very bad. It's just as bad as burning it, which, I believe, brings 30 years of bad luck to your country, leading it to repeat the same mistakes. Like sending troops abroad to fight in open-ended civil wars.

So I was going to have to keep this flag for the rest of my life.

Much like you, at about this point, my wife, Cassandra, got sick of this conversation. So she plucked the flag out of our planter and threw it away, not even in the recycle bin. This is a woman who hates both political parties.

Someone might want to let Joel and Cassandra Stein that the American flag has nothing to do with political parties. "Hating both political parties" should have no bearing on your love for the United States, Cass.

But Stein gives away his usual condescension and arrogance in this passage (emphasis mine):

[The realtor] told me that in the town she grew up in near St. Louis, most people kept a flag up all year. Even though I've seen tons of neighborhoods that do this, I've never actually lived in one. I've also never lived in a neighborhood that had those flags reminding you of the holidays and seasons. In fact, I've always looked down on those places. If you need semaphore to inform each other that it's going to get hotter in the upcoming months, nobody is putting a magnet school in your community.

So the reason I didn't want to put a flag outside wasn't because I disapprove of our international policies. It was because I didn't want to associate myself with the other people who put them up, and with their unquestioning, tribal, us-versus-them, arrogant mentality. Though I love being American, I don't want to proclaim it as the sole basis of my identity.

Yikes. Did Stein actually say "arrogant"? Yes, he did.

Happy Fourth of July.