Friday, February 8, 2013

Susan Jacoby: Review and Interview

Short Fuse Interview: Susan Jacoby, Robert Ingersoll, and Keeping the Secular Tradition of American History Alive

Susan Jacoby, "The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought"

Early on in her profile of Robert Ingersoll, Susan Jacoby writes that: "Intellectual history is a relay race, not a hundred-yard dash. Ingersoll was one of those indispensible people who keep an alternative version of history alive."

The alternative Ingersoll helped to keep alive is the secularist view of American history. It refers back to the Founders having omitted all mention of god from the Constitution: Search that document and you will find no "god" or "God", no "Supreme Being", not even so much as a polite tip of the hat to "Providence". It's instructive to think that when, in January, 2011, the Tea Party read the Constitution out to the House of Representatives, as if it were scripture, they were not called to account for the fact that the Constitution was, if anything, anti-scripture, a document meant to be construed as the work of human beings. For that reason, among others, it was not only revolutionary in its day but remains so in ours.