Charles Cooke Response To Uproar Created By His Statements On Bill Maher’s Real Time Willfully Ignorant


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Yesterday I posted this blog piece “See Bill Maher’s Guests Spar–Do Only White Men Matter or Feel? (VIDEO)” about Charles Cooke’s comment on Bill Maher’s Real Time on Friday evening. Granted, I was rather pissed and the dismissive nature that Cooke dealt with slavery after the revolution.

I just found this gem in my twitter feed from Charles Cooke.


After reading his response to the dust up from his comments at his blog post “What’s the Matter with Joan Walsh?” it is evident that Mr. Cooke is either choosing to be willfully ignorant or simply does not understand that context is everything and his context was all wrong.

Mr. Cooke said:I think Americans have a problem thinking about this sometimes because — and I include myself, with British people — because the revolution that happened here was great, and very rarely is that the case in the world. You have this revolution in America in which the British fight the British, and then they codify classical liberal values into a constitution — and it’s great. But that’s not how it goes down normally. Normally, there is bloodshed and its horrible. And especially in the Middle East what they want to replace their dictatorships with — if you look at the polling — is Sharia law.”

Ms. Reid came back with: “But the revolution in the US was great unless you were a slave and then there was a war where 600,000 Americans had to die to make it better. Revolution isn’t always great. In the French Revolution there were beheadings. Revolutions are messy. You want people to have democracy it can be messy.”

Mr. Cooke believes that Ms. Reid interjecting slavery was a cheap shot because the subject at hand according to Cooke was “what people in the Arabic world tend do when they are given a chance to overthrow the existing order” and that because slavery existed pre and post revolution it was not germane to the discussion.

Mr. Cooke is comparing America’s revolution in a positive light relative to those in the “Arabic world’ by referring to ours as great and theirs as failed because they would adopt what he (and me) see as bad, Sharia law. An outsider looking in could just as well call the American Revolution a failed revolution for most, as in said revolution the outcome was codified slavery, the vote for white male land owners, and everyone else be damn. It created a patriarchal society where white rich men ruled. Most Americans cowardly accepted this as doves. For the vast majority of Americans there was very little difference pre and post revolution.

Mr. Cooke wants to selectively use what he considers to be of the right context. For too long Liberals have allowed the Right Wing to get by with false equivalences and manufactured context. I am happy that many Liberals and Progressives are getting the spinal fortitude to hit back and correct the record at every turn.

Mr. Cooke, while your point may stand in your mind, those of us that understand how the manufactured misinterpretation of history is used to sell bankrupt ideologies will continue to stand guard. It is willfully ignorant of you to not see the American Revolution in the proper context.



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  1. The American Revolution wasn’t nice in any way. There were lynchings, mass killings, torture, mutinies and the targeting of civilian populations by both sides. It was war. War is ugly. That us why it is something wise people go to great lengths to avoid. Always.

  2. Missing from the accounts of the American Revolution are the messy portions of it. Do the math. The U.S. declared independence in 1776, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, and the Constitutional Convention was held May to September 1788. So what happened in between?

    This is where the messy parts actually took place. Patriots who fought in the revolution rebelled against the new government; case in point Shays’ Rebellion. Captain Shays was the son indentured servants, held two farms before the revolution and in 1786-1787 found himself worse off than under the British. He had lost one farm and was about to lose the second one. That meant he was also about to lose his right to vote. He rebelled. George Washington called him a traitor while Thomas Jefferson said a revolution every now and then is a good thing.

    This is a part of US history that is often not emphasized and or spoken about. The constitutional convention was called partly because of this rebellion. They realized things needed to be tightened up a bit. This did not end small revolts against the central government. These continued until the civil war. There might not have been as bloody a situation as France, but it was not this miracle perfect situation from one day to the other.

    • In that regard, it’s most apt that the centennial of Charles Beard’s classic “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States” is upon us. In that slender volume Beard shows concisely what the Constitutional Convention was about by briefly going over the social background and assets of ever single member of it. He also gives background and context along the lines you discussed and described the extremely limited suffrage. Generally 50 acres or its financial equivalent to vote, 250 to hold office was required in the elections for the state conventions that elected the delegates. Needless to say, not a single member was a working man or “mechanic” and not a single small farmer was present from what was by far the largest social group in America at the time. In addition, many members were large holders of “scrip” , meaning promissory notes given to veterans to compensate them for their service. A large secondary market had arisen in that and worthless state debt which many of these guys had bought up at huge discounts. They looked to a strong central government and bank to cash them out at a handsome profit and to keep Indians, slaves and the discontented in line.

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  4. The US revolution did not go through a counter revolution, like the reign of terror in France or have the revolutionary troops turn on the nascent government. Instead, their was a peaceful transition from Monarchy to Republican government. The Army disbanded, the Congress scrapped the Articles of Confederation, wrote the Constitution, the states all ratified it, and to top it all off, the first President did not become a dictator, he retired from leadership and began the peaceful transition of power we’ve enjoyed ever since. I think that is the ‘great’ thing about US Revolution.