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Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution Hardcover – September 16, 2012
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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 Constitutionis 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)
Top Customer Reviews
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012 (hardcover) (Read this in Oct. 2012)
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 ›
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.
And some of that wish list is fulfilled, but in such a way that the commentary this book adds to the argument is delivered in such a way that it actually detracts (at best) or makes worse.
Mr. Epps organizes his treatise into a 10 Most Wanted List of Conservative myths including:
1) Original Intent vs Living Constitution
2) Founder Intent at Limiting Congress
3) Congress's Unconstitutional use of Commerce Power
4) Constitution Does Not Imply Separation of Church and State
5) Equality and Self-Government <> 1st Amendment
6) 2nd Amendment Intended to Make the Government Fear the People
7) 10th Amendment Allows States to Nullify Federal Law
8) 14th Amendment Soley Addresses Slavery and is Irrelevant to Today's Issues
9) Election of Sentaors is Unfair and Harmful to the States
10) International Law is to be Kept Out of American Courts
If you are like me this is just the right road map for purchase. A couple broad issues, a couple "I can't believe that's still a thing" issues, and one or two you didn't even know where a thing to begin with. And on the surface, and to be fair even under the hood, Mr. Epps does a great job with each of these.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This really does explode some of the right wing myths and outright lies.Published 13 months ago by Bud Willie
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 morePublished 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
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 20 months ago by JimN
Keeping America on the path set up by our founders is not easy in today's political climate of trickery and half-truths. Read morePublished on May 18, 2014 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on April 10, 2014 by Kindle Customer
This is a right wing country. It will always be a right wing country. All liberals should move to Europe!Published on March 13, 2014 by robert whittle
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 morePublished on December 21, 2013 by Smell Fire
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 morePublished on June 20, 2013 by K. Hughes
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 morePublished on May 17, 2013 by Jerome D. Mcbride