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Michael Austin, author of That's Not What They Meant; Reclaiming the Founders from America's right wing. He's a professor of English and provost, vice president for Academic Affairs at Newman University
Very ROUGH interview notes:
(mostly my questions)
Just to be clear, you didn't write this for Liberals or progressives.. You're not even one yourself.
Can you tell me a story about something that led up to the book or that you experienced during writing the book?
You use the term Right wing myth but your ire suggests that it was more outright dishonest re-writing of history.
Quote from first chapter of book.
Standard conservative discourse for thousands of years.
All countries have a founding myth. So, what is America's founding myth?
So, what are Glenn Beck, Hannity, etc doing to corrupt that story?
So what you are saying is there was nuance in the discussions of the founding fathers and the far right people abuse the words by selectively using words.
One proposition that the founding fathers agreed upon.
Founders who opposed the constitution. Did they end up ratifying it?
Could it be that the people who opposed the constitution lost power and lost favor? (Patrick Henry, John Hancock)
So the egregious abuse by Beck, Hannity, Perry, is that they site the words of the founders who opposed the constitution to support their view of the constitution.
You use an interesting term-- Founderstein-- like Frankenstein?
You say in your book that Glenn Beck is the worst offender.
There's a scene in Annie Hall, where Woody Allen brings along Marshall McCLuhan to refute Diane Keaton's date, telling him how wrong he was, quoting him. Can you envision a similar reaction from a founder responding to Glenn Beck?
Hamilton and Jefferson.
In a way, Jefferson sounds a bit like a Libertarian-- fiscally conservative socially liberal.
Do you have any idea how Hamilton and Jefferson would have responded to public banking?
Jefferson didn't want us to have money? Was this an idea any of the other founders had an interest in?
Who were some of the founders who believed in the agrarian paradise?
This approach might offer words by founders that could be used to oppose world trade or global trade agreements.
The Super Six founders:
are considered the "top tier" of america's founding fathers.
Are any of those quotes more abused than others?
Hamilton was conservative?
You say Hamilton supported the one percent but wanted the government to give money to corporations-- Isn't that what we have now-- huge wars costing hundreds of billions or trillions going to Boeing, Lockheed, Haliburton?
So, you're talking about the tea party. Did anybody among the founders support the tea party?
How do you debunk the neo-history that these neocons create?
YOu have a number of categories that the right wing abuses
One is the Fallacy of Original intent.
Another category is Religion and liberty. Can you talk about that and how it is abused?
"Patrick Henry believe that t his really should be a Christian nation."
James Madison wrote opposing a tax for religions that Henry advocated for.
How about the big six founders and their take on religion? We know that Jefferson re-wrote the bible without miracles. Franklin was a Deist.
Adams was a unitarian-- vs trinitarian-- didn't believe Jesus was god.
Washington was very quiet on his religious
Hamilton was probably the most traditionally religious of the founding fathers.
What was this first big American sex scandal about?
Was this husband politically active?
You've written about the evolutionary foundations of storytelling?
What is the evolutional value of story?
The less truthful the stories are, the more useful they are. Can you explain that?
How would this apply to the genre of Zombies and apocalyptic stories?
Is this something that writers and screenwriters could benefit from? Can you give examples of how they can use this to create better stories.
Do you analyze any contemporary fiction?
I've always believed that storytelling had a role in the way evolved.
We are hard wired to process experience in a way that approaches narrative.
Do you see a bottom up top down aspect of your collection of ideas around Useful Fictions?
ars politica column
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