Jacobins on the St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s City is more than just our state’s birthplace. It’s the home for religious freedom throughout the United States.
It also happens to be the home to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Maryland’s public honors college. I’ve got a few concerns about that after reading the Jacobin agitprop that was published in the Baltimore Sun today.
In what can only be described as a ludicrous op-ed, St. Mary’s history professor Christine Adams basically tried to make an excuse to overthrow the United States government.
Read the entire piece before continuing, because the entire thing is absolutely bonkers.
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Adams starts out with what passes for an anecdote because a student allegedly took her class on revolutions in Europe as a “how-to” manual:
Many years ago, a bright and engaging young student informed me, much to my surprise, that she was taking my classes on revolutions in Europe as practicum — a “how-to” manual on fomenting revolution.
She eventually tried to put theory into practice: In October 2003, she was arrested, along with other D.C. Statehood and Green Party activists, for refusing to leave then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s office. They were wearing colonial garb to protest the District of Columbia’s lack of budget autonomy — evidence of its “colonial” status.
I was apparently not very successful at providing a blueprint for revolutionary change (and had certainly not intended to do so!); D.C. is still subject to the whims of Congress, and neither statehood nor autonomy is likely any time soon.
Adams already starts off on the wrong foot by showing sympathy for the D.C. Statehood movement. Statehood for D.C. is literally unconstitutional, but such trivial notions are irrelevant to Adams.
Adams then continues with the typical complaints put forth by Facebook warriors and Twitter trolls about how we’re “losing our democracy” and such:
I find myself thinking lately about Zoe and her efforts to learn how to begin a revolution from history. I am not by nature an activist, and I am not a likely candidate to lead the revolution. I am not planning to mount the barricades. But I worry about the growing frustration that we Americans are losing the ability to shape governmental policies and structures, and that democratic governance is slipping out of our hands.
After some passing mentions of our our system of government was designed by and for the people, Adams then moves over into suggesting that gerrymandering and the mere existence of the U.S. Senate, of all things, is a casus belli:
But in the past 20 years, the reality — of gerrymandering greenlighted by the Supreme Court, voter suppression and a Senate and House in which some voters count for dramatically more than others — has become ever more apparent. A minority of voters control the levers of power, and our Constitution no longer guards against a determined Republican party willing to flout norms and change rules to ensure continued control of state and federal governments and the judiciary.
Funny, I didn’t hear much from Dr. Adams complaining about the radical gerrymandering or a determined Democratic Party willing to flout norms and change rules to ensured continued control of state government. You know what’s been going on in the state of Maryland for generations, in case you had some sort of belief that Adams wasn’t some sort of Jacobin keyboard warrior.
The characterization of the Senate is absolutely astounding and surreal when you consider that the mere existence of the Senate is a bulwark against radical democracy and designed to protect the needs of Americans living in smaller states. But it’s very clear that Adams sees anybody who doesn’t see the world through her Robespierre-tinted glasses to be not worthy of participation in the political discourse.
It just gets more out to lunch from there:
The U.S. government is often critical of authoritarian governments in other countries (at least ones whose policies we don’t like), and we impose sanction on those countries to encourage reform. When some protest that the policies hurt the citizens, say, of Iran or North Korea, not their government, the blithe response is “The people should force change upon their government.” As if it were that easy to bring about regime change.
I have thought about this as I live under a government that bars refugees from seeking asylum, keeps children in living conditions that usually invite visits from child protective services, disregards our treaty obligations, invites election meddling from hostile powers and destroys our standing in the world. I want regime change, and I don’t know how to make it happen.
Emphasis mine because if the good doctor took five minutes to get her head of the academic ivory tower she just might learn that we have a thing called elections in this country and maybe, just maybe, she can participate in them. It’s like her extensive study of the French made her forget basic civics.
And believe it or not, the poppycock continues:
The vote of the majority is supposed to matter, and to a certain extent it did in 2018 — but only for the House of Representatives. The Senate remains in Republican hands, despite an electorate that went heavily Democratic. A president who won election because of the Electoral College, despite losing the popular vote, makes policies and installs judges that a majority of the country opposes. And now, in addition to the built-in rural advantage of the Senate and despite increasing efforts to suppress minority votes across the country, the Supreme Court is notoriously reluctant to take steps to ensure a fair electoral process. How do we change this?
Again, a completely bonkers interpretation of why the United States Senate exists and a completely out to lunch (albeit growing in popularity) position on the electoral college. Even worse, Adams seems manages to freelance an opinion that the Supreme Court should be an activist court that just should take it upon itself to “ensure a fair electoral process.” The technical term for what Adams suggests the court do, by the way, is a judicial coup d’état.
The best part of the entire piece is where Adams casually glosses over what the Jacobins did during the French revolution:
The French, who experienced revolution many times after 1789 (and changed governments frequently), had a revolutionary script that they followed. We have no script for revolutionary change; we still revere our Constitution while the French have gone through many iterations of theirs in the same number of years. But it’s more than that.
Adams just casually says that the French “had a revolution script they followed.” Adams, who has a PhD a French History from Johns Hopkins according to her curriculum vitae, damn well knows exactly what happened when the French followed their “revolution script”: people died. A LOT of people died.
The short, short version of the French Revolution notes that after the overthrow of the monarchy the Jacobins in charge basically wrecked the place. Catholicism was banned. The guillotine was introduced as an effective method of execution. The Reign of Terror happened, featuring political purgest where at least 16,000 Frenchmen and Frenchwomen were sentenced to death for “political” crimes. The Republican quickly devolved into a series of socialist dictatorships, complete with price controls, longer work weeks, and the usual political prisoners. The Revolutionaries, not content with civil war with their own people, eventually launched what was tantamount to a world war with conflicts occurring across the globe. And the entire enterprise eventually ended with the rise of Napoleon and the establishment of the French Empire, basically just restoring the same type of royal order they had gotten rid of in the first place.
Ultimately, the French Revolution killed a lot of people.
The other French revolutions didn’t end much better, no matter how much you liked Les Misérables.
That Adams, allegedly a French historian who teaches classes on the French revolution, glosses over the ridiculous death toll, chaos, and lack of freedom brought forth by the Jacobin revolution and its after-effects destroys whatever nebulous credibility her op-ed had in the first place.
Then at the end, Adams tries to put the genie back in the bottle with some platitudes about the reality of revolution and how not to romanticize revolution (despite that being the entire point of her piece) without ever bothering to say that revolution is a bad idea:
I can imagine the excitement Zoe felt when she and her compatriots donned revolutionary clothing to challenge D.C.’s status, but it was a small, non-violent and ultimately futile protest. As a historian, I know that the reality of revolution is bloody and terrifying. We cannot romanticize it, and Americans have thankfully rejected it for most of our history. But today, I waver between hope that peaceful protest and voter mobilization can still bring change in 2020 and fear that Abraham Lincoln’s confidence that our “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” is no longer warranted.
As I’ve said before, PhD stands for piled high and deep and in this instance, it’s 100% warranted because this entire op-ed from Dr. Christine Adams is complete and unadulterated crap.
Contrary to what some people and certain French historians would like you to believe, there have been insurrections and rebellions against the United States. The Whiskey Rebellion didn’t end well. The Civil War didn’t end well. The Business Plot didn’t end well. The only true rebellion that has been successful against the United States was the de facto paper rebellion that existed when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation as our instrument of government.
And that is the truly damning thing about Adams piece. She’s calling for a revolution against the United States (without explicitly saying so) but doing so in a manner that basically ignores the fundamental way that one can change the government. At no point does Adams suggest constitutional amendments to change any of the issues that she suggests. She does not suggest an amendment to deal with gerrymandering or an amendment to change how the Senate works or to eliminate the electoral college. These mechanisms do exist, but the fundamental flaw of Adams argument is the fact that the ideas that Adams is most worked up about are only popular in the Academic bubble, liberal salons, or Facebook rooms that Adams and her ilk frequent. Real people don’t have nearly the passion for this stuff that she and her ilk does.
That makes Adams romanticization of revolution even more typical of those who most actively support it, a certain element of the “educated” bourgeois who think they can make government and society work better for them irrespective as to whether or not it’s for the benefit of the people. It’s the same script as every other communist revolution that has been attempted and, usually, failed in its execution or failed the country and society that it took over.
The most frustrating part of Adams love letter to the Jacobs, to Robespierre, and the Reign of Terror is how ignorant she appears to be of her own history in her own backyard. In 1649, at the historic State House just down the road from where Adams teaches, the assembly of the Colony of Maryland passed the Act Concerning Religion, better known as the Maryland Toleration Act. The law was the first law in the New World that guaranteed religious freedom. No, the act was far from perfect and was only in effect until 1654 when a revolution in England snuffed it out. But it was the first declaration of its kind, imagining a world where free people could worship freely. Now, 370 years later, Adams wants to throw that freedom out with the bathwater because she has a sad that her side lost an election.
Look, the Baltimore Sun is free to print whatever op-ed they want. This op-ed is more in line with the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board groupthink than any member of that board would care to admit. Even then it’s hard to believe they printed this garbage. But the irony of Dr. Christine Adams giving cover to violent revolution of the government while taking a state paycheck and teaching at a state school is pretty thick. Adams probably wants to man the barricades herself more than she if comfortable admitting. But this lack of judgment, cherry-picking of history, and warped and distorted view of the world shows you what kind of education you can get at the taxpayer-funded St. Mary’s College of Maryland Department of History.