Bush's "monkish ignorance and superstition"

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This is a classic example of the Right's historical revisionism: Bush quoted Jefferson last week, but left out Jefferson's rather poignant criticism. Ed Brayton quotes from Bush's speech and offers an analysis:

On the 50th anniversary of America's independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, "May it be to the world, what I believe it will be -- to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all -- the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

Now let's look at the full quote, including the part that was cut out. This is from a letter he wrote to Roger Weightman reflecting on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (which, it turns out, was the day both he and John Adams died):

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

Jefferson made many such statements, of course. Clearly they are best edited out by those who advocate nothing if not monkish ignorance and superstition.

[typo fixed]

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 8, 2008 2:53 PM.

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