Cover your ears, kiddies. Originalism is bullshit on steroids. That’s probably why conservatives love it so. Originalism is conservatism’s stalking horse. It’s their Junior Frankenstein lab experiment – powered up and filling something very dead with artificial life. Originalists like Antonin Scalia insist that we must interpret the Constitution exclusively from the founders’ perspective. That is, however they understood the world back then – regardless of their ignorance – is how we must understand the world today. The Constitution, originalists insist, is written in the concrete of its time and we are obligated to live under that concrete’s burden. What nonsense! Here’s a better word: bamboozlement. The math is very, very simple: originalism = bamboozlement.
Personally, I think “All men are created equal” was white bamboozlement. How can it not be? A bunch of white guys wrote it, approved of it and stood by it. But, it isn’t even remotely what it says it is. By “All men”, our founders meant ONLY “men”. And the “Men Who Were Equal” club didn’t include Black men or brown men or Asian men or Native American men. “All men are created equal” is the sign on the wall. In front of it, a con man explains why only white guys get all the privileges.
Nothing he says really makes sense. It strains logic, credulity and patience. The point of the exercise though is power. Holding power by denying power. How many jelly beans are in the jar? No one knows. It’s utterly irrelevant. Even if someone actually guessed the number, it wouldn’t matter. That’s how bullshit and its cousin bamboozlement work.
Bamboozlement Solves Nothing
Bamboozlement works this way: it lays down a marker of bullshit. Then, it makes everyone deny that it’s bullshit. Meanwhile, the bullshit remains bullshit. Whatever problem it’s not solving remains unsolved. But, hey – the white guy still holds power and money, so “Woo-hoo!” . Welcome to the bottom line.
If white bamboozlement produced something of value, one might could defend it a teeny-tiny bit. But, it doesn’t. In fact, white bamboozlement costs us every single day. What’s crazier still? White bamboozlement costs itself every day, too.
Racists Can’t Compete
Remember those morons at Charlottesville who chanted together “Jews will not replace us”? What they’re really saying is “We can’t compete with anyone – especially Jews!” Now, I really don’t think that’s the case – that they can’t compete. I think they can compete perfectly well except they’ve grown lazy. What they really should be chanting is “Jews are going to replace us because we’re effing lazy!” Not quite the same thing.
But, that said, to my ear, “Jews will not replace us” is as coherent as conservative arguments get. It’s got all the logic of saying “one plus one equals three”. Well… you can say that. It doesn’t make it so. Conservative genius – such as it is – is getting people to believe one plus one equals three regardless of the fact that it doesn’t.
It’s getting modern Americans to accept that they don’t live in modern America, they live in the founders’ America – back when a Black person was three-fifths of a white one and women couldn’t vote.
Where’s “Own” In The 2A?
Quick side note – the founders didn’t put the word “own” in the Second Amendment. If you really want to play the “originalist” game, you have to agree that no right to individual gun ownership is enumerated anywhere. Militias were our National Guards. Per the 2A, the state militias (not disorganized citizens calling themselves “militias”) doled out the arms that citizens engaged by the militia could “keep and bear”. The moment that citizen’s time in the militia ended? Just like with the National Guard today, you give back your arms because they’re not yours and never were yours. They always belonged to the National Guard. To the militia.
But, hey – that’s just how they originally wrote the thing.
The Bottom Line
If we really want to be accurate – and we do – we should revise the math this way:
Originalism = Bamboozlement = Bullshit
And there we are at the bottom line. The bottom-est line. Originalism is pure, unadulterated bullshit. It’s just math.