All Patriots 'Know' That Moses Wrote the Constitution

The subject of today's class is the Constitution, but the discussion keeps veering to various methods of sending Mexicans back where they came from.

Not surprising: Our instructor is Lester Pearce, Arizona Justice of the Peace and brother of Russell Pearce, author of that state's harshly anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1020 1070. Lester Pearce can't stop mentioning that Mexicans have begun leaving Arizona since the official persecution began. In fact, Pearce says, he wants to send some Americans to Mexico too. "I wrote a bill when I was in the legislature to give [the Gadsden Purchase] back to Mexico, because we had people in Tucson who were socialists." Mexico didn't want them, he says.

We are in the basement of Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va. It is Saturday, October 23, ten days before the midterm elections. A group of 50 patriots has gathered for a seminar of "The Making of America," presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. NCCS, headquartered in Malta, Idaho, sends speakers across the country to reveal the truth that liberal elites have hidden about the American form of government. The seminar is sponsored by four local groups--a Constitution-oriented meetup in Purcellville, Va., the Loudoun Patriots Organization, the Virginia Conservative Party, and the Loudon County Republican Women's Club.

The atmosphere reminds of me of a church pancake supper. The 50 people attending are mostly at or near retirement age, and overwhelmingly white, though there is a young Asian-American woman in killer boots, and several fashionably dressed moms with their young children in tow. By and large, these seem like people who would make wonderful neighbors--civic-minded, polite, outgoing. The conversation at the tables, however, doesn't center around the pastor's last sermon but on which Democratic politician the speaker hates most ("Obama claims to be a constitutional scholar. He knows just enough to undermine it") and the viciousness of media bias against good candidates like Christine O'Donnell ("She'd be fine elsewhere, but in Delaware she's not going to win").

But what's striking is how much these people hunger to understand America and its Constitution. "I have a master's degree," one man said to me, "and nine-tenths of this information I never got in any formal education. That's not good when you live in a country that you don't understand." There's a palpable yearning for tools to understand and change the terrible mess we're in.

Given that curiosity, it's quite striking that the seminar, which begins at 8:30 a.m., takes until 1:30 to get to the actual Constitution.

That's because we have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the "ancient constitution" of the Anglo-Saxons.

At this point a faint alarm bell should be ringing. First of all, just for the record, Jefferson didn't take any part in writing the Constitution. He was in France, and when he read the Constitution he had mixed feelings about it. (Jefferson did actually write the words "a wall of separation between church and state," which Judge Pearce and the NCCS generally regard as a pernicious myth.)

But the louder alarm should come from maps and displays in the materials that suggest, without quite saying, that the Anglo-Saxons were in fact the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. On page 20 of our workbook, a map shows an arrow marked "Northern Tribes of Israel," running from Palestine to the Caucasus region. That arrow stops in 721 B.C.; another arrow begins at the same place at the same time: "Migration of Celts, Angli, Sacki, etc." It stretches to Northern Europe and then to England. NCCS Founder W. Cleon Skousen's big textbook, The Making of America, says that "many have thought the Yinglings, or Anglo-Saxons, included a branch of the ancient Israelites because they came from the territory of the Black Sea . . . and because they preserved the same unique institutes of government as those which were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But whether related or not, there is certainly irrefutable evidence of a cross-fertilization of laws and cultural values between these two peoples." (Princeton historian Sean Wilentz's recent piece on Skousen is here.)

This coy suggestion embodies what historians call the "British Israel" theory--the idea that the English nation, not the Jews of Europe, is the rightful heir of God's Covenant with Abraham. One of the major figures in the growth of this anti-Semitic ideology in the U.S. was Howard B. Rand. Rand's Anglo-Saxon Federation worked with William B. Cameron, Henry Ford's anti-Semitic ghostwriter, to link British Israelism with the American far right wing.
In The Making of America, Rand is quoted as writing, "When the time came for the United States of America to adopt a Constitution, our forefathers modeled it after the perfect Israelite system of administration."

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Garrett Epps is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He teaches constitutional law and creative writing for law students at the University of Baltimore. His latest book is American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.

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