“Moses Wrote the Constitution”

Over at the Atlantic, my former classmate Garrett Epps reports on one of those “constitutional” and “patriotic” meetings that we typically, and wrongly, associate with militant white “minorities” living in the Idaho wilderness.  This gathering takes place in the basement of a Lutheran Church in Virginia and those who attend are staid — having not the faintest whiff of paranoid religious nationalism about them.

They are gathered to learn about America and the Constitution from Arizona judge Lester Pearce, but the “secret” history being taught is incredibly odd:

[W]e have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the “ancient constitution” of the Anglo-Saxons.

At this point a faint alarm bell should be ringing….But the louder alarm should come from maps and displays in the materials that suggest, without quite saying, that the Anglo-Saxons were in fact the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. On page 20 of our workbook, a map shows an arrow marked “Northern Tribes of Israel,” running from Palestine to the Caucasus region.

That arrow stops in 721 B.C.; another arrow begins at the same place at the same time: “Migration of Celts, Angli, Sacki, etc.” It stretches to Northern Europe and then to England. NCCS Founder W. Cleon Skousen’s big textbook, The Making of America, says that “many have thought the Yinglings, or Anglo-Saxons, included a branch of the ancient Israelites because they came from the territory of the Black Sea . . . and because they preserved the same unique institutes of government as those which were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But whether related or not, there is certainly irrefutable evidence of a cross-fertilization of laws and cultural values between these two peoples.”

Lurking behind these words is the idea that the Constitution is not only a religious document, but a tribal one–written by one kind of people, white Anglo-Saxons, and enshrining their superiority. The Constitution is “ours”; immigrants, non-Christians, Jews, Presidents with funny names are here in “our” country by “our” sufferance, and the time has come to take “our” country back. None of this is quite said; but it hangs in the air. “The divisions are going to become greater and greater,” Lester Pearce warns the students at Our Savior’s Way.

This is the best argument I have yet seen for required anthropology courses at the high school and college level.  Garrett must have been squirming throughout the hours long lesson, with his own alarm bells ringing at full tilt.

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