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Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution [Kindle Edition]

Garrett Epps
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The primary purpose of the United States Constitution is to limit Congress. There is no separation of church and state. The Second Amendment allows citizens to threaten the government. These are just a few of the myths about our constitution peddled by the Far Right—a toxic coalition of Fox News talking heads, radio hosts, angry “patriot” groups, and power-hungry Tea Party politicians. Well-funded, loud, and unscrupulous, they are trying to do to America’s founding document what they have done to global warming and evolution—wipe out the facts and substitute partisan myth. In the process, they seek to cripple the right of We the People to govern ourselves. In Wrong and Dangerous, legal scholar Garrett Epps provides the tools needed to fight back against the flood of constitutional nonsense. In terms every citizen can understand, he tackles ten of the most prevalent myths, providing a clear grasp of the Constitution and the government it established.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

Despite what many Americans have come to believe, the purpose of the United States Constitution is not to limit Congress, and the line that designates the separation of church and state is quite clear. In this new book, Epps provides the tools needed to fight back against the flood of constitutional nonsense. He tackles ten of the most prevalent myths, discussing in terms every citizen can understand the importance of a clear grasp of the Constitution and the government it established. (Foreword Reviews)

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. (Booklist)

Garrett Epps knows more about our Constitution and its history than many who invoke it endlessly on the campaign trail have forgotten. With a rollicking sense of humor and a driving passion, he challenges misunderstandings about our Founders and asserts what is plainly true: That they sought to establish a government that would preserve freedom but would also be strong enough to provide for the general welfare. They sought to make it easier rather than harder for Americans to solve our nation’s problems. Epps is a true original who leaves the originalists’ arguments in shreds. (E. J. Dionne Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Our Divided Political Heart)

Epps combines a scholar's deep understanding of the Constitution with an extraordinary ability to convey its complexities with wit and clarity. This book makes the essential meaning of the Constitution understandable and entertaining. (Walter Dellinger, former Acting Solicitor General and Maggs Professor of Law, Duke University)

For far too long, Americans across the ideological spectrum have ceded the Constitution to the far right-wing of political thinkers. In this desperately-needed book, Garrett Epps takes on the elaborately-crafted fiction that the United States Constitution was drafted principally to protect the rights of gun owners, wealthy corporations, self-interested states and those determined to force their religious views on the unwilling. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. With a novelist's eye, a constitutional law professor's facility with th substantive arguments, and a saber-sharp wit to boot, Epps has produced here a love letter to the real Constitution; the document that has promoted freedom, tolerance and equality in this country for two centuries. Every American who seeks to reclaim that document should read it and confirm their suspicion that the debate over the constitution has two sides, not one. (Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, slate.com)

In this short and elegant book, Professor Epps exposes the fallacies of key conservative claims about the Constitution. For decades, and especially in recent years, the right-wing has made claims about the “true” meaning of the Constitution. Professor Epps thoroughly and persuasive explodes ten of these claims, which he rightly calls myths. Anyone interested in the Constitution, or American government, should read this book. (Erwin Chemerinsky, School of Law, University of California, Irvine)

Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution is by far the most excellent source of factual constitutional knowledge for defeating, deflating and diffusing the far right's hostage takeover of our beloved document. Mr. Epps beautifully details each of the ten myths then destroys them with inconvenient truth repeatedly ignored by the Republican fringe. I highly recommend this book to those who are eager to fight back against those who want to define our Constitution as something it's not. (The Politics of Jamie Sanderson Blog)

Law professor Garrett Epps joins con-serv-a-tive talkers and liberal pundits in excoriating his opponents and offers a patina of scholarly respectability to arguments and assertions that would be at home any hour of the day on MSNBC. (The Weekly Standard)

Product Details

  • File Size: 583 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008UTMSQW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,447 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book October 27, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about our Constitution

Garrett Epps

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012 (hardcover) (Read this in Oct. 2012)

Introduction
The author describes his experience as a student at a seminar on "The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution." The seminar was organized by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), a creation of W. Cleon Skousen. The instructor was Lester Pearce, an Arizona justice of the peace. Pearce is brother of former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The NCCS is a source of far-right-wing mythology about the Constitution. The author sees this and other organizations and individuals promoting an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution as part of a movement to reverse progressive legislation in the United States. This progressive legislation has slowly but surely made American democracy more inclusive by extending the vote to racial minorities and women.

Chapter 1. The Right Is "Originalist" ; Everyone Else Is "Idiotic"
Argues that far-right "originalism" is an intellectual weapon designed to hide from ordinary citizens (Scalia's "idiots") what is in plain sight. Behind the myth of original intent is the assumption that there is a single "clear" intent hidden in each phrase of the Constitution. But often the wording is purposely vague.

Chapter 2. The "Purpose" of the Constitution Is to Limit Congress
On the contrary, under the Articles of Confederation the federal government was too weak. The framers wanted a Constitution that would give the government broad powers. Many of these are enumerated in Article I, Section 8.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good points but some hyperbole April 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover
I agreed with the vast majority of positions Epps takes in the book. As he says, the right wing has distorted the Constitution to support their agenda. Ron Paul, especially, is called out in the book as someone who has no idea what he is talking about. He shows why Citizens United was a bad decision, the Tenth Amendment does not say what Rick Perry says it does, and how "originalism" is a fraud. These points are crucial to understanding constitutional law.

It isn't a perfect book, though. My major complaint with Ebbs is that he makes hyperbolic statements like "right wing does not like human equality" and constantly sounds condescending toward people with different views. Statements like this won't ever convince conseratives, even moderates, to question their views. I recommend reading Wrong and Dangerous but fear his sarcastic tone undercuts his message.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary and Proper December 8, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Wrong and Dangerous is a necessary book in the current political environment--one in which reverence for the Constitution is at an all-time high while Constitutional literacy near its all-time low. Epps faces the problem head-on: a whole lot of people--from politicians to preachers to right-wing radio hosts--have built very lucrative careers by making up a bunch of nonsense about the Constitution. A full survey of this Constitutional lunacy would take many volumes, but Epps takes on ten of the silliest claims from the radical fringe--such as the notion (popular with Tea Party types) that the Progressive movement destroyed states' rights by amending the Constitution to allow for the direct election of senators (Chapter 9), or the almost incomprehensible canard that, by mentioning foreign or international laws in a decision, Supreme Court justices have betrayed their country to marauding Turks (Chapter 10).

In reality, these opinions are held by a tiny minority of poorly informed, but supremely confident, individuals who have much to gain by distorting the Constitution. But their voices are growing louder by the minute, and a large number of us are letting them get away with it by failing to call them out when the misrepresent the Constitution. The major point that Epps makes is that we (moderate, reasonably well informed citizens) bear some culpability for this. The Constitution, and the democracy it created, belong to all of us. "If we stand by and let them wreck it," Epps concludes, "shame on us." He is quite correct.

Michael Austin
Author, That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning, this book will make you mad November 9, 2014
Format:Hardcover
A much needed book in a climate of deceit regarding our nations formative document the US Constitution. Warning, this book will make you mad when you see the levels of deceit and manipulation being used by the political right to hijack our Constitution and pervert it to support their agenda.

If you will read the negatiive reviews on the book you will see that the bulk of them are simply political hack jobs by people who have not read it.

The book is valuable because we have frankly not been studious in learning our own Constitution. As such we as a people have become susceptible to charlatans who speak in sound bytes and offer anecdotes instead of facts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for every thinking American May 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Keeping America on the path set up by our founders is not easy in today's political climate of trickery and half-truths. This book explains our constitution very readably and concisely.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Medicine
Epps wastes no time laying out the crisis and it's remedy. False ideas about what the constitution means have an answer in the constitution itself, if we only would read it and... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Even though I haven't read it, I'm giving this ...
Even though I haven't read it, I'm giving this book one star because I don't want what it says to be true.
Published 4 months ago by JimN
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept having to put it down, it made me so mad
It's very difficult to have to confront all this stuff on paper all in one place at one time. Reading it made me so mad, so frustrated and so sad for what has happened to our... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Country Girl
1.0 out of 5 stars Communist garbage from a liberal traitor.
This is a right wing country. It will always be a right wing country. All liberals should move to Europe!
Published 13 months ago by robert whittle
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Lack of Real Knowledge
I get the impression that the author hasn't read any of the 10,000+ documents from the Founding Fathers. If he had, most of his conclusions would have problems with reality. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Smell Fire
5.0 out of 5 stars Great work
Garrett Epps does an excellent job of detailing the con job that various loud pundits and self-anointed Constitutional experts have been selling the American public in clear and... Read more
Published 22 months ago by K. Hughes
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time
This is simply wrong and goes against more than 200 years of successful implementation of the Constitution. People, we've got the best country that ever existed... ever. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jerome D. Mcbride
1.0 out of 5 stars poorly written
An overly vituperative knee jerk exposé against conservatives and Christians. It Needs more intellectual substance. It clearly needs more objectivity.
Published 24 months ago by Doug
1.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to use on Kindle with no Table of Contents, links, or...
I really want to use this book as a handy reference in discussions, but find it almost impossible to use. Read more
Published on April 5, 2013 by Jan Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars So informative!
I had no idea that the dis-information efforts of right wing-nuts regarding the Constitution were so extreme and wide-spread. Read more
Published on March 25, 2013 by Hazel
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