Sobrans -- The Real News of the Month

Memoirs of a Heretic

December 26, 2000

Official lies, untruths, and distortions, once established for a long time, are devilishly hard to correct. Most people accept them implicitly, enjoying the feeling of “knowing” and hating to feel that their betters would deceive them. And anyone who challenges the myths is bound to seem eccentric for doubting them, or, even if he makes his case, quixotic for trying to overturn what “everyone knows.”

Yet, to my mind, there is nothing more satisfying than recovering a buried truth. In fact it can be downright exciting. At first the scorn of the “experts” who sustain the official myth can be daunting; you wonder whether you can be right and all the scholars wrong. But as you get grounded in a subject, you realize how often the experts overinvest in old mistakes, quoting each other as authorities and relying on mere snobbery and sarcasm to discourage heresy.

I first encountered this fact of life as a young conservative, when I started questioning the conventional wisdom of liberalism. I found that the liberal intelligentsia, in the academy and the press, often didn’t know what they were talking about, despite their certitude that progress meant ever-increasing government authority. When challenged, they didn’t debate; they circled the wagons, ignoring or caricaturing their critics. Yet conservative and libertarian criticisms of liberal dogmas were often cogent and convincing. You just had to be stubborn and use your own God-given head.

Later I became interested in the Shakespeare authorship question. I read Charlton Ogburn’s big book, The Mysterious William Shakespeare, and was amazed to find a persuasive case against everything I’d ever believed about the legendary “Bard of Avon.” Ogburn argued that “Shakespeare” was really Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Again the scholars sneered. I spent years checking out the facts for myself. In the end I found that the Shakespeare Sonnets really didn’t describe the man from Stratford, but they did describe Oxford, right down to his “lameness” and his mortification at being “in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.” The scholars had no explanation for this (or for Oxford’s close ties to all of “Shakespeare’s” dedicatees). I wrote my own little book about the question, and still couldn’t get a straight answer from the Stratfordian side.

[Breaker quote: How the 
Official Version misleads]Over the last few years I’ve concentrated on American history, especially the U.S. Constitution, about which I’m writing another book. Here I’ve found that the entire legal profession, from the little law schools to the U.S. Supreme Court, is committed to established misreadings of the Constitution. No matter how logically you show that the Framers of the Constitution didn’t mean to create a monolithic nation-state such as we have now, it’s no use: powerful interests are committed to keeping things just the way they are, with government checks flowing (unconstitutionally) to millions of dependents. Admitting the truth wouldn’t just rock the boat, it would swamp the ship of state.

Here’s a history question for you: Which American president proposed a constitutional amendment to deport free black Americans out of the United States? I learned the answer just the other day: Abraham Lincoln. But no history book is going to tell young folks that Lincoln was a convinced segregationist who agreed, in essence, with Louis Farrakhan. Most Americans, scholarly and otherwise, prefer the mythic Lincoln, a proto-liberal on race, to the actual Lincoln, who bewailed “the troublesome presence of the free Negroes” and opposed Negro citizenship.

Official mythology also misrepresents the Civil War. It tries to discredit secession by associating it with slavery, though the two things have no logical connection. Some abolitionists also wanted to secede from the Union. And a powerful constitutional case can be made that in a federal system, each state retains its sovereignty and may withdraw whenever it chooses to do so. What! They never told you this?

How about World War II? The official voices tell us that the Allied cause was a holy one and that Franklin Roosevelt did the right thing by dragging us into it, even if he had to lie a lot. There is room for more than one view about that, but as usual, certain facts have been airbrushed out of the official picture.

As I say: When the experts speak, don’t be afraid to use your own head.

Joseph Sobran

Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRAN’S home page

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive | Back Issues of SOBRANS 
 WebLinks | Scheduled Appearances | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas | Notes from the Webmaster
  Contact Us | Back to the home page 

Reprinted with permission
Copyright © 2000 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications

small Griffin logo