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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2011 / 14 Adar I, 5771

Censor the Constitution, Too

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's not enough that the professoriate has decided it can improve on Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," which is not only a great American novel but a popular nominee for The Great American Novel.

This latest act of literary vandalism was committed out of regard for the tender sensibilities of a politically correct age, which can be brutal when it comes to suppressing language, that is, ideas. Especially any that come dangerously close to truly representing the past.

Instead, that past must be sanitized, cosmeticized and generally politicized. If it doesn't adhere to current standards, it's got to be altered. Otherwise we might learn too much from it, and ours is an era that can't stand too much reality. Vulgarity we're big on; reality we'd just as soon airbrush.

So, quick, hide the past. Or at least soften it. Even if that means distorting it. Much the way Victorians bowdlerized everything from the King James to Shakespeare. Lest we be astounded, shocked and, worst of all, educated. Can't have that.

Americans must be protected from our past. And practice civility, the watchword of the day. But what the censors seem to mean by civility is something closer to a false gentility, to Miss Watson's censorious notion of what is right-and-proper in "Huckleberry Finn," a standard that's far from right and makes a snare of propriety.

The language police never rest from their labors. Next on the list for a little discreet editing, aka thought control, comes another great work -- indeed, "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man," to quote William Ewart Gladstone's tribute to the Constitution of the United States.

When the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives took control, it decided to pay tribute the Constitution in its own way -- by reading that document aloud on the floor of the House. It's about time Congress paid more attention to it. Even if it's easier to read the Constitution than to fulfill its ever unfolding promise.

But then, in a move proper Victorians would have understood, the stage managers in Congress decided to delete a part of the Constitution (Article I, Section 2) they considered unseemly, or at least dated: the system of basing each state's representation in the House on "the whole Number of free Persons" and "three fifths of all other Persons." That is, Negro slaves, though the Founders were squeamish enough not to use that more exact term. Maybe it was their conscience at work, or at least their shame. Or, who knows, maybe their hope that someday all would be free. Let us have charity for all.

The reason, or rather excuse, for this crude act of censorship by the new Congress was that the old three-fifths rule had been superseded by the Fourteenth (and glorious) Amendment. Although various other sections of the Constitution that have been superseded were not ignored in this recitation.

The three-fifths clause is perhaps the most widely cited and widely misunderstood of the Constitution's provisions, at least by rhetoricians more interested in agitation than thought. Since it is said to reduce black Americans to a status only three-fifths human. (For further insights into this general approach to language as propaganda, look under Agitprop in George Orwell's dictionary of newspeak in 1984.)

Actually, the three-fifths clause was a compromise between the slave states, which would have preferred to count all their slaves in the Census in order to augment their representation in Congress, and the free states, which would not have counted them at all in order to diminish the power of the slave states and magnify their own.

It was the believers in freedom who objected to counting the slaves for purposes of representation. Wasn't it enough that they were deprived of liberty? Would their numbers now be used to empower their masters and seal their chains?

The three-fifths clause had nothing to do with how human or less than human or 60-percent human men were deemed to be. But that kind of nicety tends to get in the way of those who care less for historical perspective than historical misrepresentation. And by deferring to them, the Republican impresarios at this reading of the Constitution have only reinforced an ugly myth.

But isn't that what all censors do in the end, whether they're fiddling with "Huckleberry Finn" or the Constitution of the United States? They wind up calling attention to what they were trying to hide.

What they also do, thank goodness, is send inquisitive minds back to the original words, and in the end inspire thought rather than suppress it. The way kids -- or adults who have never read "Huckleberry Finn" in the original, unexpurgated version may now be sufficiently curious about what all the fuss is about to read the real thing.

Do you think they still read Washington's Farewell Address in Congress on his birthday? Let's hope so. And that it's the whole, uncensored, original Farewell -- not the leavings of some professor who's been allowed to play with scissors.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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