Religion and Legend
1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
In this article, I intend to explore the legends underlying the American religion. By American religion, I mean to suggest the belief by a large segment of the population in the structures and institutions of government, and the belief that these structures and institutions are used for purposes beneficial to the people. In other words, the religion is belief in the benevolence of the state and the goodness of the political leaders.
1. A non-historical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.
2. The body of stories of this kind, especially as they relate to a particular people, group, or clan….
There are several American legends that either support this religious belief directly, or otherwise contribute to the deification of the state and those who act through it. Such legends, taught in the public schools and perpetuated through various mainstream media outlets – movies, books, and magazines, as well as mainstream web-sites – create a common foundation as the basis for the desired religious belief: belief in the state.
Legends are material to be moulded, and not facts to be recorded.
Many have done valuable to work toward the shattering of one or more of the key legends, thereby contributing to the loss of faith in the religion. These efforts can only be beneficial to freedom. The work of shattering these legends is the work of revisionist historians, although not all revisionists support the idea of shattering the religion of state. Such historians have toiled tirelessly from the inception of each legend, yet many worked in relative obscurity. Certainly the internet has made their work easily available to any who care to look.
Legends die hard. They survive as truth rarely does.
There are many such legends in American history. I will explore three of these, and suggest that these three may be the most foundational due to the magnitude of awareness in and acceptance by the population at large – most importantly, due to the importance of these legends to the foundation of the American religion. Proximity in time, I suggest, is not the key criteria – one event occurred 150 years ago, while the most recent is only ten years old. But what these three cases hold in common is the level to which the legends have been internalized by large portions of the population.
Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.
A major impediment to shattering the legends is that such action runs full-force into a brick wall of “we the people.” Too many accept the idea that “they” are the government; that the people are in charge; that the government and the country are the same; that I vote, so I have control. As opposed to control through dictators and kings (where the self-interest of the rulers at the expense of the people was never in question), representative democracy has done a wonderful job of convincing the people that they are the rulers, choosing politicians to work on their behalf for their good.
Because they have been taught to believe that they and the government are one-and-the-same, they cannot accept that the legends are not only false but shed light on the murderous actions of government. They cannot damn themselves. Additionally, they cannot accept that the legends are false, because to do so will suggest that they have been dupes.
When the legends die, the dreams end; there is no more greatness.
I do not intend to refute each legend in detail in this post – I am not qualified to do so, even if I chose to. My purpose is to suggest the three that I view as the more important legends to burst, specifically because they are so deeply ingrained and hold significant sway as basis for the religion.
Lincoln and his War
The first such legend is Lincoln’s war, commonly (and inaccurately) referred to as the Civil War. One legend holds that Lincoln fought to free the slaves and give them equality. While it is certainly true that the war ended slavery in the United States, this was not Lincoln’s objective: the truth is that Lincoln didn’t care one bit about the slaves, other than proposing to send them back to Africa.
Lerone Bennett, Jr. captures the lie behind the legend in his book “Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.”
I was a child in whitest Mississippi, reading for my life, when I discovered that everything I had been told about Abraham Lincoln was a lie….for I discovered that I lived in an Orwellian world where scholars with all the degrees the schools could give could say in all seriousness that a separatist was an integrationist and that a White supremacist was the ultimate symbol of race relations and the American Dream.
Lincoln or somebody said once that you can’t fool all of the people all the time. By turning a racist who wanted to deport all Blacks into a national symbol of integration and brotherhood, the Lincoln mythmakers have managed to prove Lincoln or whoever said it wrong. This is the story of how they fooled all of the people all the time and why.
Another legend from this war was that Lincoln fought it to preserve the union. Of course, Lincoln did not preserve the union, but instead transformed it into that which opponents of the Constitution most feared – from a confederacy of states with a limited central government to an all-powerful central government to which state government would become increasingly subservient. From “The Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution,” by Brion McClanahan:
…Who authorized them to speak in the language of We, the people, instead of We, the states? States are the characteristics and the soul of a confederation. If the states be not the agents of this compact, it must be one great, consolidated national government of the people of all the states.
We the People of the United States is a sentence that evidently shows the old foundation of the Union is destroyed, the principle of confederation excluded, and a new system of consolidated empire is set upon the ruins of the present compact between the states.
Any assurances to the contrary offered by supporters to the Constitution were killed during this war, along with 700,000 or more victims of Lincoln’s needless aggression.
Tom DiLorenzo has done significant work regarding the myth of Lincoln. One of his books is “Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.”
From the Amazon description:
What if you were told that the revered leader Abraham Lincoln was actually a political tyrant who stifled his opponents by suppressing their civil rights? What if you learned that the man so affectionately referred to as the “Great Emancipator” supported white supremacy and pledged not to interfere with slavery in the South? Would you suddenly start to question everything you thought you knew about Lincoln and his presidency?
Thomas J. DiLorenzo, who ignited a fierce debate about Lincoln’s legacy with his book The Real Lincoln, now presents a litany of stunning new revelations that explode the most enduring (and pernicious) myths about our sixteenth president. Marshaling an astonishing amount of new evidence, Lincoln Unmasked offers an alarming portrait of a political manipulator and opportunist who bears little resemblance to the heroic, stoic, and principled figure of mainstream history.
Did you know that Lincoln . . .
• did NOT save the union? In fact, Lincoln did more than any other individual to destroy the voluntary union the Founding Fathers recognized.
• did NOT want to free the slaves? Lincoln, who did not believe in equality of the races, wanted the Constitution to make slavery “irrevocable.”
• was NOT a champion of the Constitution? Contrary to his high-minded rhetoric, Lincoln repeatedly trampled on the Constitution—and even issued an arrest warrant for the chief justice of the United States!
• was NOT a great statesman? Lincoln was actually a warmonger who manipulated his own people into a civil war.
• did NOT utter many of his most admired quotations? DiLorenzo exposes a legion of statements that have been falsely attributed to Lincoln for generations—usually to enhance his image.
Lincoln is memorialized via his own temple in Washington, DC. The design echoes a classic Greek temple, “structures built to house deity statues....” It is ironic that the site has become an almost sacred venue for those advocating civil rights.
For those interested, I have written a review of Bennett’s book; this can be found here.
World War Two
It can be suggested that a discussion of the legend of World War Two without first exploring America’s entry into and subsequent impact upon the First World War would render such discussion incomplete. For purposes of historical accuracy and understanding, this is certainly correct. However, for purpose of legend – legend behind religion – this is not necessary. Most Americans don’t make the connection, and the connection isn’t necessary to the belief of the legend.
The images of World War Two stand alone, and stand vividly in the minds of every American. The attack on Pearl Harbor; the concentration camps; evil Japs / nips and evil Huns / krauts; Hitler as the ultimate evil; the D-Day invasion; naval battles; island-hopping marines and soldiers across the Pacific. We have seen these images countless times – in newsreel and on the silver screen.
World War Two stands out for most Americans as the Good War, the one case where there can be no doubt that America was in the right: subject to an unprovoked attack; fighting on the side of freedom and against tyranny – the tyranny of the Nazis and Hitler, and the tyranny of the Japan and Hirohito; where the two bombs were dropped, thus avoiding the need for a direct invasion of Japan and thereby saving a million American lives while bringing the war to a sooner end.
All myths. All legends. Even supporters of Roosevelt admit that he did all he could to enter the war – first by attempting to provoke Germany, then later Japan, into attacking the United States – while all the while telling the American people that he was doing all he could to stay out of the war. One very good book in this regard is “The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable,” by George Victor (a supporter of Roosevelt’s actions):
Events are poorly explained by making assumptions that crucial acts by competent, conscientious leaders were capricious, careless, or negligent. And U.S. leaders who figured in the Pearl Harbor disaster were highly competent and conscientious.
After Roosevelt stationed the fleet at Pearl Harbor, Commander McCollum wrote a memo for him, recommending its use as a lure. Roosevelt implemented the recommendation. Admiral Richardson concluded the administration use of the fleet endangered it gravely, and he argued the point over and over with his superiors. When he took measures to protect his fleet, Roosevelt relieved him. Stark then kept Kimmel uninformed of Japan’s plans to attack it at Pearl Harbor. And Marshall kept Short uninformed.
To most Americans, manipulating one’s nation into war is something done by foreign tyrants – not our own leaders. Since 1942 U.S. history has been distorted by the idea that presidents simply do not do what Roosevelt’s enemies said he did.
As to fighting against tyranny, this seems hardly plausible given that the Americans sided with Stalin, who at the beginning of the war had far more blood on his hands than did Hitler. From Herbert Hoover’s “Freedom Betrayed”:
No longer was the world conflict an unambiguous struggle “between tyranny and freedom….The alliance of the British with the Russians against Germany destroyed “that illusion.”
“Western civilization has consecrated itself to making the world safe for Stalin.”
Freedom Betrayed is a significant volume by Hoover, examining the foreign policy of Roosevelt (and then Truman) from the period 1933 through the end of the war. It is a remarkable account, not because he breaks any significant new ground (at least not by the time it was published, fifty years after his death), but because he was a former president. I am aware of no other volume of comparable significance where one president so directly criticizes the foreign policy of another – especially one as revered as FDR. For example, no president has written a comparable, critical account of Lincoln.
Meanwhile, the legend of the atomic bomb lives on, unquestioned in the mind of the general public. Here I suggest “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” by Gar Alperovitz. He presents convincing evidence that the bombs were unnecessary toward the objective of ending the war sooner (in fact, delaying the end of the war); that the bombs did not save Americans from an invasion of Japan – no invasion was necessary in any case.
This view is not merely hindsight, fifty years after the fact. This was certainly the view of key military leaders at the time:
“It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and that wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
“Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.
“During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude...”
Alperovitz also documents the significant myth-making machine activated after the war regarding the atomic bombings.
I have written numerous articles regarding Hoover’s work. I have also written reviews on the books by Victor (regarding Pearl Harbor) and Alperovitz (regarding the atomic bomb). Additionally, I have covered other aspects of this war. All can be found via the search engine on this site, for those interested.
This event is terribly important as it has ushered in a change to the country no less drastic than that brought on by Lincoln’s victory over the southern states. It is also an instant legend – here the images are even more vivid and real than those from the Second World War – and this without the overt help of Hollywood.
The revisionist history here is not nearly as well developed. If for no other reason, this can be attributed to time – we stand only ten years removed from the event. I am not aware of any credible and verifiable descriptions of the truth of what happened that day; however, there are certainly many credible questions about the official explanation – these questions remain unanswered. An internet search for “September 11” + questions returned 2 million hits. A search through these will serve better than any incomplete list I could provide.
A starting point could be “Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth.”
Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) is a non-profit corporation. We are a non-partisan association of architects, engineers and affiliates dedicated to exposing the falsehoods and to revealing truths about the “collapses” of the 3 World Trade Center high-rises on September 11, 2001.
We call upon Congress for a truly independent investigation with subpoena power. We believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that three World Trade Center buildings #1 (North Tower), #2 (South Tower), and #7 (the 47-story high-rise across Vesey St.) were destroyed not by jet impact and fires but by controlled demolition with explosives.
More than 1,750 architects and engineers have publicly signed the following petition:
Please Take Notice That:
On Behalf of the People of the United States of America, the undersigned Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and affiliates hereby petition for, and demand, a truly independent investigation with subpoena power in order to uncover the full truth surrounding the events of 9/11/01 – specifically the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers and Building 7. We believe there is sufficient doubt about the official story to justify re-opening the 9/11 investigation. The new investigation must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.
I suggest this not because I know it to be more credible than any other effort – I have no reason to believe this one way or another. However, I find it credible if for no other reason than the fact that almost two-thousand (inherently) well-educated architects and engineers have decided to put their names and reputations on the line firmly questioning the official story of the legend.
While we don’t know the truth about what happened, we do know for certain that members of the official government-appointed commission have doubts about the story they were told by various government officials:
Months after the commission had officially issued its report and ceased its functions, Chairman Kean and other commissioners toured the country to draw attention to the recommendations of the commission for reducing the terror risk, claiming that some of their recommendations were being ignored. Co-chairs Kean and Hamilton wrote a book about the constraints they faced as commissioners titled Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.
The book was released on August 15, 2006 and chronicles the work of Kean (Commission Chairman) and Hamilton (Commission Vice-Chairman) of the 9/11 Commission. In the book, Kean and Hamilton charge that the 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail," and write that the commission was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by officials from The Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration during the investigation that it considered a separate investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Pentagon and FAA officials.
John Farmer, Jr., senior counsel to the Commission stated that the Commission "discovered that...what government and military officials had told Congress, the Commission, the media, and the public about who knew what when — was almost entirely, and inexplicably, untrue." Farmer continues: "At some level of the government, at some point in time … there was a decision not to tell the truth about what happened...The (NORAD) tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public." Thomas Kean, the head of the 9/11 Commission, concurred: "We to this day don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us, it was just so far from the truth."
I have selected three of the major legends underlying the American Religion. I can think of others, but to my mind they do not affect the emotion and psyche of the average American as these three do. Two of the three have already been exposed with well-documented research. One is still awaiting such treatment – not due to a lack of effort on the part of revisionists, but perhaps because time has not yet allowed the erosion of the secrecy.
Any efforts to broaden awareness of the fallacies behind these legends can only serve to undermine the religion, and therefore ultimately help de-legitimize the state.
As with all attacks on faith, the faithful can and do respond with aggression and abuse. But time and effort opens more eyes. Once the scales are lifted, the sighted do not voluntarily return to blindness.