The Presidency and Mythology
Andrew P. Napolitano
by Andrew P. Napolitano: What
Ever Happened to the Constitution?
is Judge Napolitano's closing argument on his FreedomWatch
Presidents’ Day Special, which featured Tom DiLorenzo and Tom Woods.
the government work on behalf of the people or do the people exist
for the benefit of government? Is history a recollection of things
that have actually happened, or a narrative deployed to legitimize
power and the crimes that led to the acquisition of that power?
Tonight, on this Presidents Day, state-sanctioned history,
the Presidents of the United States, and you.
the last hour weve heard that some of the Presidents often
billed by historians and the public as the greatest
were anything but. To be fair, its difficult to be a great
person when your job is to head an organization like the State that
is rooted in deception, theft, and murder. And we know from Lord
Acton that no great man is a good man.
the beginning, any claim that the American government is good because
some Americans are exceptional does not make any sense. The individual
virtues of human beings cannot possibly extend to the government.
By definition, the government lies, cheats, and steals. After all,
it has no resources of its own, only those it appropriates from
the people. No one may lawfully compete with it. We are forced to
pay its bills and accept its so-called services. There is no escaping
it. The ideas behind a nation may be exceptional, but they are not
manifested by the government. And, of course, we must never mistake
the government for the people it claims to represent.
why does the official history of our Presidents seem like so much
mythology and legend when viewed side by side with what really happened?
Is history being deliberately manipulated to whitewash the crimes
of the past and manufacture the consent of the people? Or is the
whitewashing of history simply a natural reaction by a people and
a culture that would rather not come to terms with their not so
rosy past? Its both. It is human instinct to trivialize the
dark and the wicked in us and to elevate the good and the honorable
in us. But, indeed, the history transmitted to you and your children
in government schools has whitewashed all the Presidents but a few.
And make no mistake about it, they are government schools; because
they all exist at the pleasure of the State so that the governments
version of history becomes the popular version of history. Napoleon
understood this when he remarked that history is not the record
of what has happened before us, it is the record of what people
think has happened before us. The government understands this, too.
Roosevelt manipulated the United States into World War II for years
prior to a declaration of war. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl
Harbor on December 7th 1941 was not only not a surprise, but was
facilitated by FDR. Abraham Lincoln was a racial supremacist who
wanted blacks forcibly removed to Africa. Woodrow Wilson arrested
people for speaking German in public. If these facts were as well
known as the fiction that has surrounded them, then the information
which the government wishes us to accept uncritically about the
present day state of affairs would be more vigorously challenged.
So here is the lesson: The government has mythologized the past
in order to lull us into accepting its version of the present; and
the essence of that mythology is the presidency.
Lincoln stated at Gettysburg that government is of the people, by
the people, and for the people, that was government propaganda.
The government is not of the people, and it shares none of the characteristics
and traits of the people themselves. No less a president than George
Washington told us that government is not reason, it is force. Government
is a tool, a powerful and a dangerous tool. And so it must be wielded
carefully and only when moral, constitutional, necessary, and proper.
Government officials are not performing a public service, and they
do not regard themselves as public servants. They regard themselves
as our masters.
the Constitution and the law, as Ive said time and again on
this show, they are employees of the people and ought to serve at
our pleasure. When we lionize our government officials, be they
Presidents or postal workers, when we mythologize and deify them,
when we build temples to worship them, we violate the nature of
the service they ought to be performing. Jefferson would be scandalized
at the temples we have built for him. Lincoln and FDR would no doubt
welcome theirs. If we want to take our government back, we must
begin by taking an honest account of what our government has done,
ostensibly in our names, and reject the untrue narratives it instead
foists upon us. The truth shall set us free.
presidents but Jefferson have argued that their first job was to
keep us safe. All presidents but Jefferson were wrong. If you read
the Constitution, you will see that the Presidents first job
as Jefferson understood well is to keep us free.
February 22, 2011
Andrew P. Napolitano
[send him mail],
a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior
judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel, and the host of “FreedomWatch”
on the Fox Business Network. His latest book is Lies
the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History,
(Nelson, 2010). His next book is It is Dangerous to be Right When
the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom, coming
© 2011 Andrew P. Napolitano