Michele Bachman, “The US was founded on diversity.”

Michele Bachman proves to us that you don’t need to know a lot about American history to work in the American government. She typifies the “fake it till you make it,” ethos of young professionals, except when she fakes it she gets it all wrong, making you wonder if she really just believes the things she says. At a meeting in Iowa on tax relief Bachman went into why she loves the United States so damn much saying,

“How unique in all of the world, that one nation that was the resting point from people groups all across the world. It didn’t matter the color of their skin, it didn’t matter their language, it didn’t matter their economic status. Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn’t that remarkable?”

via TPM.

What here is truly remarkable and unique is that we live in a nation where elected officials can forget or revise details in history like how slavery was overcome or the subpar treatment of immigrants and people of color that worked and built the very infrastructure of this society, with little to no credit. I know it would be a massive stretch to also acknowledge that the original settlers “settled” through mass warfare and genocide of indigenous populations, but that would require actually reading more than what you learned in history class. But we learned about slavery in history class, she knows we were far from equal “once we got here” and in an effort to correct her faulty statement she asserts that the “very founding fathers that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more.”  That’s strange, considering the founding fathers were dead by the time the Emancipation Proclamation rolled around.

Here’s the full video, the remarks start after the 9 minute mark.

Revisionist history in the service of nationalist rhetoric is one of the most violent tactics of the right. It denies what actually happened, it reframes the past using imagination instead of act and it allows for history to be driven by fantasy, nostalgia and ideology as opposed to factual storytelling. It also paves the way for retrograde legislation that doesn’t take into account the ways historically disenfranchised people are still suffering from harmful policy. The United States is one of the most diverse nations in the world, that is one of its greatest boones, but it was not founded on the strength of this. And people that are getting here today are still fighting for equal rights, that are being denied to them even when they serve our very great nation.

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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    It’s not history, but if it were, it wouldn’t even be good history!

  • http://feministing.com/members/theoutcast/ Heather

    This revisionist aspect to the right is quite worrisome. They have a huge platform and power. Especially Michelle Bachmann. She’s invites controversy therefore her messages are everywhere.

    I would think that The People’s History of The United States of America should be required reading for all politicians.

  • http://feministing.com/members/probablywriting/ Amanda

    I tend to think that “America was founded on . . . ” arguments tend to not be very good because, well, America has gone through a hell of a history and you can’t really point to a single moment when America was “founded”. There were thousands of years of history before the arrival of Europeans that definitely shaped the experience of the Europeans who first arrived, but we don’t hear about that too much. We (as a country) often tend to think of Columbus and the Pilgrims as the first, but that’s Euroentric and blatantly wrong. And if you’re looking at that as the ‘founding’, then, yeah, America was built on systematic genocide and slavery. Not exactly two traditions we should be proud of. The other big ‘founding’ people think of is the Revolutionary War and the years immediately following it, and while the documents the ‘founding fathers’ wrote that formed the basis of our governing system are still extremely important, they were also seriously flawed and largely left out women, African-Americans, indigenous groups, and other minorities.
    I think instead of focusing on what America was “founded on” we should start thinking about what America we the people would like to build – hopefully one that can better realize the old, often unfulfilled promises of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ninjanurse/ Nancy Green

    I loved the last paragraph. All my life I’ve been hearing nonsense about the good old days. One myth is that we have an evolving morality and past generations didn’t know that things like slavery and genocide were wrong– but now we’re enlightened.
    You have to read history.

  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    As a lifelong Minnesotan, I am so so so so sorry for letting this woman loose on the rest of America. She doesn’t represent MY district, though–I am represented by Keith Ellison, the first African-American to represent Minnesota in Congress and the first Muslim from ANYWHERE to do so! Now THAT’s what I call diversity! That’s what informs Rep. Ellison’s commitment to economic justice and equality for all under the law. Bachmann wants the government out of every aspect of our lives…..except for wombs & marriage licenses.

    Again, I’m very sorry.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    At least relative to certain European countries at the time, the US started with a decent amount of religious diversity and political diversity. Aside from that, other diversity (or at least rights for those who illustrated that diversity) has been earned along the way.

    It does seem self-serving that political conservatives have a tendency to paint the past so rosy, to give the impression that “progress” has never been necessary.

  • http://feministing.com/members/lalareina/ lalareina

    It’s stunning how low the standards have become in public discourse. You can just make it up as you go it seems.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tigerlily/ Lily Gellman

    Agreed – the last paragraph is amazing. This revisionist history that some right-wing politicians seem to love is something straight out of 1984; Winston Smith works at the Ministry of “Truth,” to edit and distort every event that occurs to the expedience of the corrupt government of the Inner Party and Big Brother. Fortunately, while in 1984 there is no mechanism for terrified citizens to speak out against the lies – the lies are so ingrained that almost everyone actually believes them – here in the US we can actually stand up and call politicians out on their BS. Now isn’t *that* remarkable?