Slavery wasn't so bad, says book published by OR Republican Party Chair
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 12:21:02 PM EST
Update, August 18, 2013: Arthur G. Robinson, who was running for U.S. Congress when I originally published this story on September 18, 2012, has just been appointed chairman of the Oregon State Republican Party. Here are my other articles on Art Robinson:
Dump Nuclear Waste at Sea, Proposed Oregon GOP Congressional Candidate
Oregon GOP Congressional Candidate Sells Racist Book Suggesting Africans Are Like Retarded Children
GOP Congressional Candidate Friends With "Execution By Stoning" Advocate
Republican Proposed "Sprinkling" Radioactive Waste on America

"the negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe." -- from George Alfred Henty's book With Lee in Virginia, currently printed, sold, and promoted by Republican Arthur B. Robinson's Robinson Books.

Art Robinson is campaigning to represent Oregon's 4th Congressional District in Congress

Improbably, the smackingly racist writing of 19th Century British author George Alfred Henty -- whose boys adventure novels had kind words for slavery, described Africans as having the intelligence of ten-year old children, and featured a comedic description of a slave being tortured with red hot irons (see quotes, below) -- may become an issue this year in an Oregon congressional race.

[Note: this is a long report. But you can get the essential gist by simply reading the four quotes, below, plus the first two introductory paragraphs. That's 410 words more than you've just read.]

"The Henty books provide training in history and in many of the highest aspects of human character... American young people should read not a few Henty books, but all 99 of them." -- Oregon Republican congressional candidate Arthur B. Robinson, from http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com

"The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. A few, a very few, go beyond this, but these are exceptions... They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery." -- from G. A. Henty's By Sheer Pluck, a Tale of the Ashanti War, printed and sold by Robinson Books

"The negro struggled as the men approached him, and gave a terrific yell as the hot iron was applied to his sides.

"I will tell you, sars--oh! have mercy upon me and I will tell you eberything!" " -- from the G.A. Henty novel True To The Old Flag, printed and sold by Robinson Books

"All [of the G.A. Henty novels] followed the same basic formula: A boy-hero, generally age 15, finds himself on his own as a result of family circumstances; he meets up with a great man in whose company he has an adventure; in the course of the historical crisis he meets and rescues a girl destined to be his wife; the crisis is resolved, the British triumph...

To the modern reader, Henty's books are notable for their hearty imperialism, undisguised racism, and jingoistic patriotism." -- from PBS biography of novelist George Alfred Henty

Backed by the Koch brothers-funded group Americans For Prosperity in his insurgent bid to defeat longtime incumbent Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio and represent Oregon's Fourth District in Congress, Republican Art Robinson doesn't just recommend G.A. Henty's boys novels, and he goes beyond merely including them in his homeschooling curriculum - Robinson prints and sells hardcover paper editions of all the 99 novels of G.A. Henty, whose zesty, militaristic tales of plucky boyish adventure celebrate British colonialism, depict darker-skinned peoples as stupid, savage and childlike, and romanticize slavery.

This report examines Arthur B. Robinson's homeschooling curriculum, especially its racist content, and Robinson's extensive and intimate ties to the theocratic Christian Reconstructionism movement, which helped develop the Robinson Curriculum.

The report is broken up into four subsections, plus footnotes:

Introduction
The Robinson Curriculum
Arthur Robinson, the DeFazio Campaign, and Racism in the Henty Novels
Arthur B. Robinson & the Christian Reconstructionism Movement


Introduction

In 2010, I brought up racist content in one of the G.A. Henty novels printed and sold by Arthur Robinson, By Sheer Pluck, A Tale of the Ashanti War, and the issue was subsequently raised by a moderator in a Defazio/Robinson debate during the 2010 election.

Robinson sought to rebut the suggestion of racism, in his 2012 autobiographical book Common Sense in 2012: Prosperity and Charity For America (mailed in mass quantities to Oregon voters), by claiming that the G.A. Henty book in question was in fact anti-racist [see footnote #1].

But as illustrated in this report, the passage in question from By Sheer pluck is only one among many instances of racist content to be found in the Henty novels.

In one especially egregious case -- G.A. Henty's glowing account of the lot of slaves in Haiti under French Colonialism and his pejorative account of subsequent Haitian independence  -- Henty's historical account, that accused Haiti's freed slaves of governing and financial incompetence but failed to mention ruinous financial reparations demanded from the new nation of Haiti by France, is either shockingly incompetent or else designed to be intentionally deceptive to support a racist message. In either case, Henty bluntly serves  his young readers the opinion that Haiti's freed slaves were unable to manage their own affairs without European supervision.

Beyond the Henty novels, other aspects of the Robinson Curriculum are questionable.

Simply by numbers of books on the subject included in the Robinson Curriculum, students will learn by implication that the Civil War was the most important conflict in American history, and they will have at their disposal two entire books of constitutional justification for the American South's succession from the Union, as well as two written by unrepentant Southern supporters of slavery - one of those a pro-slavery advocate whose writing has helped inspire [see footnote #2] some of the most virulently racist, white separatist movements in contemporary America.

While Arthur Robinson can point out, quite accurately, that his curriculum also includes books whose authors are fiercely critical of slavery, the very inclusion of pro-slavery legal arguments in his curriculum might suggest to students that there is some legitimate question as to whether slavery should be legal or not, instead of informing them that this debate was considered settled a century and a half ago.

There are even broader issues at stake. Arthur B. Robinson emphasizes the need for Christian homeschooling parents to raise their children apart from contemporary culture and secular society, and this is reflected in his Robinson Curriculum, which for the most part omits historical and cultural content of the last 100 years.

Because the curriculum is designed to be a self guided program in which students explore the curriculum's small library of included books free from adult supervision, the likelihood is that Robinson Curriculum students will learn the cultural attitudes expressed in those books, many of which express the racism and bigotry common in previous centuries.

Robinson Curriculum students will also absorb the inherent bigotry of the curriculum's book selection, overwhelmingly written by white European males - with the implication that great great works of literature, science, and philosophy come almost exclusively from Britain, Europe, and North America, and the reverse implication, that writers and thinkers indigenous to Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia have never produced any writing worthy of inclusion in Art Robinson's canon of great literature.

"It is a delightful fact that the world is made up of all sorts of people who live in many different ways", writes Art Robinson on the Robinson Curriculum website but the literature and ideas of those "delightful" peoples and cultures are, it would seem, wholly uninteresting to Robinson - who in the same essay conflates ethnic ("racial") differences with cultural ones, by claiming that multicultural curricula are in fact racist:

"My advice to homeschool parents is to teach geography, history, and government largely from books which were written in the 1950's and earlier, before it became popular to teach overt racism under the rubric of "multiculturalism."

Robinson's charge, that teaching multicultural curriculum is tantamount to racism, is echoed in recent legislation passed by the Arizona State Legislature banning public school courses that "promote resentment toward a race or class of people", "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals", or are "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group." The new Arizona legislation has been deployed most vigorously against Hispanic-American studies in AZ public schools.    

[image, right: augmented version of The Robinson Curriculum includes complete 99 novels of G.A. Henty]

Since first squaring off against Robinson in the 2010 election, the DeFazio campaign has documented Arthur Robinson's relentless rhetorical attacks on public education, in which Robinson has characterized public education as a form of child abuse and called for abolishing public schools altogether.

In an undated conversation with Christian Reconstructionist Gary North that first appeared on the Robinson Curriculum website in 1999, Arthur Robinson declares, "How far down the children of America [in public schools] have come is just, almost unspeakable."

What would Robinson substitute in their place? A good indication is the Robinson Curriculum, which Art Robinson bills as the best Christian homeschooling curriculum in the United States.


The Robinson Curriculum

"Teach your children to teach themselves and to acquire superior knowledge as did many of America's most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education... Give children access to a good study environment and the best books in the English language and then ­get out of their way!", advises a plug for Art Robinson's homeschooling curriculum on the Robinson Curriculum website.

So, what's in the Robinson Curriculum? Let's first look at what's not in it: the last 100 years. Students raised on the Robinson Curriculum will be heavily insulated from historical and cultural knowledge of the 20th Century, including its wars and atrocities but also its struggles for justice and human equality. Instead, those students will be served a literary fare rich in the racist, sexist, imperialist attitudes that prevailed in the 19th Century and earlier.  

Other than a few contemporary scientific texts, the main source of information on the 20th Century for Robinson Curriculum students is a smattering of contemporary  ideologically charged economic and anti-environmentalist writings.

Shoehorned into the mainly classics-driven curriculum, amongst its "great books" from Dickens, Jules Verne, Caeser and Cicero, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Machiavelli are right-wing 20th Century economic theorists, including the late Julian Simon and anarcho-capitalist economist Murray Rothbard, and tendentious anti-environmentalist writings such as the collected back issues of Arthur Robinson's Access To Energy newsletter -- a publication in which Robinson has presented Global Warming as a hoax, claimed DDT is "harmless", and advocated dispersing low-level radioactive waste in the oceans or over America -- as well as the 1993 book Environmental Overkill, which attacks Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and a 1976 book from Arthur Robinson's mentor Peter Beckmann titled The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear.

One of the nine listed "science textbooks" in the Robinson Curriculum is the 1987 book Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearny, also offered for free by Art Robinson's Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which opens its first chapter with,

"The dangers from nuclear weapons have been distorted and exaggerated, for varied reasons. These exaggerations have become demoralizing myths, believed by millions of Americans.

...Only after they have begun to question the truth of these myths do they become interested, under normal peacetime conditions, in acquiring nuclear war survival skills."

 
At the cultural and historical core of the Robinson Curriculum are a digitized copy of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica ( from which students can imbibe the casual, endemic racism of the encyclopedia's era and learn about Phrenology and Eugenics), the curriculum's "foundational book" - the 1611 King James Bible, and its collection of classics, mainly from White European authors. In addition, if homeschooling parents want to pay an additional $75, the curriculum can be augmented by a complete set of the digitized novels of G.A. Henty (which Robinson Books also sells in hardcover and softcover editions.)

The extent to which Arthur B. Robinson has cornered the G.A. Henty republishing market is revealed in a simple Google search on the term "G.A. Henty"; Art Robinson's www.henty.com website is hit #2, just behind the wikipedia entry for "G.A. Henty", which observes that Henty "sometimes created sympathetic ethnic minority characters" but "held blacks in utter contempt".

Weighing in at a mere 97.22 pounds, a complete set of 99 hardcover George Alfred Henty novels, ordered from Robinson Books, will set parents back a mere $1,199.00 (plus shipping).

In a 2002 post, Robinson's Christian Reconstructionist friend Gary North described how Art Robinson had recently purchased a $3 million dollar professional printing press, for pennies on the dollar. Now Robinson publishes the G.A. Henty books, that is to say he prints the Henty novels, all 99 of them, the old fashioned way on paper, in neat hardcover editions snapped up by Christian homeschooling parents across America -- whose children will learn that slavery wasn't such a bad deal for slaves after all and, besides, Africans have the mental capacity of children - with the implication that perhaps slavery was all for the best, at least until such apparently lesser beings could be weaned of their savage ways and plugged into the European colonial economic order, in ways befitting their lesser intellectual capacities, as servants, and menial laborers.


Arthur Robinson, the DeFazio Campaign, and Racism in the Henty Novels

[note: G.A. Henty novels are far from the only source of racist content in the Robinson Curriculum, which also features one of the more exaggeratedly racist works of the young Winston Churchill - see footnote #4]

Printed and sold by Robinson Books, the George Alfred Henty novel With Lee in Virginia, written from the view of a protagonist fighting on the side of the South in the American Civil War,  portrayed the institution of American slavery as, at its best, quite benign:

"In Virginia the life of the large planters was almost a patriarchal one; the indoor slaves were treated with extreme indulgence, and were permitted a far higher degree of freedom of remark and familiarity than is the case with servants in an English household...

They had been cared for in sickness, and knew that they would be provided for in old age. Each had his little allotment, and could raise fruit, vegetables, and fowls, for his own use or for sale, in his leisure time. The fear of loss of employment, or the pressure of want, ever present to our English laborers, had never fallen upon them. The climate was a lovely one, and their work far less severe than that of men forced to toil in cold and wet, winter and summer. The institution of slavery assuredly was capable of terrible abuses, and was marked in many instances by abominable cruelty and oppression; but taken all in all, the negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe." - from George Alfred Henty's book With Lee in Virginia, printed and sold by Robinson books

[image, right: Art Robinson's book "Common Sense in 2012: Prosperity and Charity for America" advertises that Robinson raised his own children on the G.A. Henty novels]

George Alfred Henty served, on several continents, as a war correspondent in the thick of British colonial military operations, and his fast-paced, action-packed novels, rich with historical detail have earned praise not only from Christian Reconstructionist leaders such as R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Samuel Blumenfeld, and Gary North but also from the late, liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who attributed much of his early knowledge of world history to the Henty books.  

However, among relevant scholars who study his work, it is also generally taken for granted that the writing of 19th Century British novelist G.A. Henty was viciously racist -- and it was that scholarship I looked to, back in 2010, when I put the issue on the table by writing an article that called attention to a passage from the Henty novel By Sheer Pluck, a Tale of the Ashanti War in which a major figure in the novel, a naturalist named Goodenough with extensive experience traveling in Africa, informs the book's protagonist, the young Frank Hargate, that Africans have the mental capacity of children:

" "They are just like children," Mr. Goodenough said. "They are always either laughing or quarreling. They are good natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. A few, a very few, go beyond this, but these are exceptions, just as Shakespeare was an exception to the ordinary intellect of an Englishman. They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery." "

This Henty quote, it seems, became a campaign issue during the 2010 DFeFazio/Robinson battle for Oregon's fourth congressional seat, leading the fringe right-wing publication World Net Daily to come to Robinson's defense with the suggestion that the allegedly racist passage in question was an exception among Henty's books:

"one fictional character makes a two-sentence remark while in Africa that could be considered racially insensitive by today's standards. Because of this, candidate Art Robinson is being labeled a racist."

The charge also seems to have inspired Arthur B. Robinson to include a rebuttal [see footnote #1] in his new autobiographical book Common Sense in 2012: Prosperity and Charity for America which according to Robinson has been mailed, in astonishing volume, to thousands of voters in Oregon's Fourth District.  

But the 2010 the DeFazio campaign attack website "Who is Art Robinson" also included a charge that the January 2003 issue of Robinson's Access To Energy newsletter contained an article by Arthur Robinson, "Caltech has fewest black freshman", in which Robinson allegedly wrote,

"Even though it has relaxed its standards, Caltech has continued to admit based on merit and ability. Moreover, its applicants are weighted toward those who seek severe, difficult, total-immersion training in science - an experience few women and blacks desire."

A similar theme appears in the September 2003 issue of Access to Energy (that I've been able to obtain a copy of), in which Robinson cites an author who recounts the opinion of a relative who attended Caltech and claims European-immigrant Caltech students are the smartest group at the school, followed by somewhat less smart Asian-immigrant students, with American-born students trailing a distant third:  

"at UCLA there were three distinct segments among the prospective computer whizzes  the top 30% were immigrants from Russia who were smart and worked hard, then came the Asians who worked even harder but weren't quite as smart, and then there was a big gap and then came the 'real' - born here - Americans."

The rating of UCLA student intelligence resembles 19th Century racial typologies that placed Europeans at the pinnacle of racial superiority, followed by Asians, with "mongrelized" races at or near the bottom.

Such racial views seem to clash with Arthur Robinson's views on race as expressed in an hour-long conversation, about homsechooling and the Robinson Curriculum, with Christian Reconstructionist Gary North published on the Robinson Curriculum website.

Claiming that homeschooling nearly eliminates performance discrepancies between white, black, and Hispanic student test scores, Robinson compared public schooling to child abuse and told North,

"I talk to a lot of black mothers, from black families, and they're sharp people and they're homeschooling, and you wouldn't - I mean, it's just like talking to anybody else. They are in it, and they mean business. And across the board, those black home-schooled students are doing just as well as the whites. Now, we can say, 'Why shouldn't they?' - Those racial differences there may be in ability are so slight that they would never show up in the averages. But out in the public schools they show up in spades."

Back to the G.A. Henty books:

One of Henty's novels, True To The Old Flag, paints a favorable portrait of British loyalists fighting against George Washington and the Continental Army, and gives a sympathetic and slightly comedic portrayal of a loyalist near-lynching of a captured slave message runner who had been working for Washington and his revolutionary army:

"The negro, who refused to answer any questions, was carried far back into the woods and a fire was lighted.

"Now, nigger," Peter said, taking, as captor, the lead in the matter, "jest tell us right away where you was going and who sent you."

The negro was silent.

"Now, look ye here, darky, you're in the hands of men who are no jokers. Ef you tell us at once who put ye on to this trick no harm will happen to you; but ef ye don't we'll jest burn the skin off your body, bit by bit."

Still the negro was silent.  "Now," Peter said, "two of yez clap your ramrods against this darky's flanks."

The negro struggled as the men approached him, and gave a terrific yell as the hot iron was applied to his sides.

"I will tell you, sars--oh! have mercy upon me and I will tell you eberything!"

"I thought," Peter said grimly, "that you'd find a tongue soon enough. Now, then, who sent you?"

My massa," the negro answered.

"And who is your master?"

The negro was again silent, but as, at a nod from Peter, the men again raised the ramrods... "

In another of Henty's books, A Roving Commission, set against the backdrop of the brutal, successful slave revolt against the class of French colonialist slaveholding planters who had dominated Haiti, G.A. Henty opens with a preface which suggests that the former slaves of Haiti had been better off under their French masters and accuses the freed Haitians of being lazy and incompetent, incapable of governing their new nation or managing the Haitian economy.

Laying out his judgment on the outcome of the Haitian slave revolt, Henty declared,  

"The negroes gained a nominal liberty. Nowhere were the slaves so well treated as by the French colonists, and they soon discovered that, so far from profiting by the massacre of their masters and families, they were infinitely worse off than before. They were still obliged to work to some extent to save themselves from starvation; they had none to look to for aid in the time of sickness and old age; hardships and fevers had swept them away wholesale; the trade of the island dwindled almost to nothing; and at last the condition of the negroes in Hayti has fallen to the level of that of the savage African tribes. Unless some strong white power should occupy the island and enforce law and order, sternly repress crime, and demand a certain amount of labour from all able-bodied men, there seems no hope that any amelioration can take place in the present situation."

G. A. Henty's presentation of the lot of Haitian slaves under French Colonialism was beyond dubious, and Henty also neglected to tell his young readers that, following the slave revolt, France successfully demanded that the new nation of Haiti pay ruinous reparations in exchange for an independence free from European military aggression and economic isolation. As the Times of London described,

"The appalling state of the country [Haiti] is a direct result of having offended a quite different celestial authority -- the French. France gained the western third of the island of Hispaniola -- the territory that is now Haiti -- in 1697. It planted sugar and coffee, supported by an unprecedented increase in the importation of African slaves. Economically, the result was a success, but life as a slave was intolerable. Living conditions were squalid, disease was rife, and beatings and abuses were universal. The slaves' life expectancy was 21 years. After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon's forces in 1804 and declared independence. But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.

    For Haiti, this debt did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope. Even after it was reduced to 60m francs in the 1830s, it was still far more than the war-ravaged country could afford. Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government for their liberty. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. In order to manage the original reparations, further loans were taken out -- mostly from the United States, Germany and France. Instead of developing its potential, this deformed state produced a parade of nefarious leaders, most of whom gave up the insurmountable task of trying to fix the country and looted it instead. In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile. Haiti was trapped in a downward spiral, from which it is still impossible to escape. It remains hopelessly in debt to this day."

 

Slaves of African origin were not the only targets of G.A. Henty's racist jabs:

In the same book, evoking the sort of British callousness towards Irish poverty satirized in Jonathan Swift's 1829 A Modest Proposal, Henty seemed to attribute collective Irish misfortune (such as the horrific starvation brought on by the Irish Potato Famine) to racial incompetence, an inability to plan for the future, as one of Henty's British characters tells the Irish doctor Doyle,

" "My dear Doyle," Turnbull went on, "it is too comical to hear you talking of a shiftless planter--you, belonging as you do to the most happy-go-lucky race on the face of the earth. Now, I will ask you, did you ever hear of a family of Irish squires who for generations put aside a tenth part of their income, and allowed the interest to accumulate without touching it, so that, when bad times came, they found that they were twice as well off as they were before?"

"Begorra, you are right, Turnbull; never did I hear of such a thing, and I don't believe it ever happened since the first Irish crossed the seas from somewhere in the east." "

Henty's casual anti-Irish racism is ironic in light of the fact that Paul Ryan, the Vice Presidential pick of the political party whose banner Arthur Robinson is running under in the 2012 election, traces his family lineage back to Irish immigrants who came to America fleeing from the terrible the Irish Potato Famine and whose financial acumen, in founding what has become a very successful construction business, helped establish a Ryan clan financial dynasty that gave Congressman Paul Ryan an advantaged head start in life.

Over the past few decades there has been a resurgence in interest, especially within the Christian Reconstructionism-influenced Christian homeschooling movement, in the late 19th Century boys' novels of British writer G.A. Henty. Scholars class the Henty novels along with works from writers such as Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad, whose books helped inculcate children with the precepts of 19th Century British colonialism and imperialism.  


Arthur B. Robinson, and the Christian Reconstructionism Movement

At the end of an extended interview with Christian Reconstructionist Gary North, on the Robinson Currculum website, Arthur B. Robinson states that the Robinson Curriculum was developed working in conjunction with Christian Reconstructionism acolyte Arthur Jagt, who does much of North's and Robinson's IT and website work, and helped introduce Robinson to the ability of modern computer technology to spread ideas.  

Gary North, one of the top intellectual leaders in the Christian Reconstructionism movement, is son-in-law to the late Rousas J. Rushdoony - widely considered to be the movement's founder.

At the heart of the Christian Reconstructionism project is the Christian homeschooling movement. Not surprisingly, Christian Reconstructionists typically want to abolish public education and on this count, and many others, Arthur B. Robinson's stated policy positions coincide quite neatly with those of Christian Reconstructionists as well as with the positions of a political party closely affiliated with the CR movement, the Constitution Party - which has in the past endorsed Arthur Robinson as a candidate.  

Robinson has extensive links (see footnote #3) to the Christian Reconstructionism movement, which advocates radically libertarian laissez-faire capitalism and the imposition of decentralized Christian theocratic government structures that would impose Biblical law -- including capital punishment, by "Biblical" methods such as stoning or burning at the stake, for a range of alleged crimes including witchcraft, blasphemy, adultery, female un-chastity (intercourse before marriage), homosexuality, and incorrigible teenage rebellion.

Christian Reconstructionism aims to literally reconstruct society, to create a new cultural and political order based on Biblically-derived legal principles as determined by founder R.J. Rushdoony and his fellow Reconstructionist theorists, among them Art Robinson's friend Gary North.

In a 1998 article in the libertarian magazine Reason titled  "Invitation To A Stoning" author Arnold Murray described Gary North's view on, well, stoning,

"[Christian] Reconstructionists provide the most enthusiastic constituency for stoning since the Taliban seized Kabul. "Why stoning?" asks North. "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." Thrift and ubiquity aside, "executions are community projects--not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his' duty, but rather with actual participants." You might even say that like square dances or quilting bees, they represent the kind of hands-on neighborliness so often missed in this impersonal era. "That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes," North continues, "indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians." And he may be right about that last point, you know.

The late theologian R.J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism, claimed that African-American slaves who had been converted to Christianity enjoyed a better lot than their African ancestors, suggested reimposing slavery, was a Holocaust denier and a creationist, and maintained that the Sun rotates around the Earth.

The Robinson Curriculum website features an instructional essay on writing composition by Rushdoony (who was without a doubt a gifted writer). The curriculum website also features an extended interview, on homeschooling, of Arthur Robinson by Gary North, and an interview of R.J, Rushdoony, by Christian Reconstructionist Sam Blumenfeld with Rousas Jonas Rushdoony.

During the hour-long interview with Gary North, Arthur Robinson advocates his own Robinson Curriculum as the best Christian homeschooling curriculum but suggests that parents could get good results by using the Bob Jones University and A Beka Book curricula as well.

Both A Beka Book and Bob Jones University curricula are riddled with racism and attacks on non-Protestant fundamentalist traditions, including Catholicism, and Mormonism. One of Bob Jones University press' recent (2007) science textbooks contains the claim that only several thousand years ago humans may have lived alongside fire-breathing dragons.

In 1986, Arthur Robinson coauthored, with leading Christian Reconstructionist thinker Gary North (son-in-law of the movement's founder R.J. Rushndoony), a book on how to survive nuclear war titled, Fighting Chance: Ten Feet To Survival. The book advocated bringing back the sort of aggressive nuclear war civil defense program that led to the US government's civil defense film "Duck and Cover" shown in US schools to schoolchildren in the 1950's and 1960's.

The Robinson Curriculum features, as one of its few books that addresses the 20th Century, a 1961 paean to great American industrialists, inventors, and financiers by John Chamberlain, The Enterprising Americans: A Business History of the United States, reprinted in 1991 by The Institute For Christian Economics, Dr. Gary North's personal publishing house.

Footnote #1

In his rebuttal to charges of racism, Arthur Robinson claimed, in his book Common Sense in 2012: Prosperity and Charity for America, that the Henty novel By Sheer Pluck was in fact anti-racist, writing,

"The book in question was By Sheer Pluck by G. A. Henty, first published over a century ago and now published by my family. We publish all 99 of Henty's excellent historical novels, which have been widely used in American schools. The adventure stories in the novels help students remember the historical events.
   In this book a fictional older man in 1850 comments both positively and negatively on different tribes that he meets in Africa. Some are even cannibals.
   This older man is representative of his time, as are many of the characters portrayed in Mark Twain's famous novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn - among the most anti-racist novels in all of American literature.
   The centerpiece of the Henty novel, By Sheer Pluck, is a 30-page soliloquy by a black African native who grew up in a period of constant tribal warfare in which he and his tribe engaged in the capture and selling into slavery of black Africans from other tribes.
   The native describes how he himself is eventually captured and sold into slavery; endures the vicissitudes of slavery in the New World; eventually escapes to Canada; and "by sheer pluck" works hard, becomes a wealthy man, and finally returns to Africa, bringing Western Civilization to his own tribe.
   This eloquent 30-page indictment of racism and slavery and celebration of the accomplishments of a black African man under great adversity was apparently of little interest to DeFazio's friends, who focused on the few prejudicial lines spoken by a fictitious character elsewhere in the book." (from Common Sense, page 376)

Footnote #2

Among the Robinson Curriculum's books is Robert Lewis Dabney's book The Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson, considered the best treatment of the Confederate Civil War general. Dabney is revered especially in the American South and even more particularly among neo-confederate and racial separatist groups, no doubt for his unrepentant pro-slavery views - which Dabney continued to promote for decades after the Civil War and Emancipation, until his death.

The following is an excerpt from Dabney's writing:

[Dabney, A Defense of Virginia, 1867, pages 352-353], "[the political rise of negroes] must result in one of two things, either a war of races, in which the whites or the blacks would be, one or the other, exterminated; or amalgamation. But while we believe that "God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell under the whole heavens," we know that the African has become, according to a well-known law of natural history, by the manifold influences of the ages, a different, fixed species of the race, separated from the white man by traits by bodily, mental and moral, almost as rigid and permanent as those of genus. Hence the offspring of an amalgamation must be a hybrid race, stamped with all the feebleness of the hybrid, and incapable of the career of civilization and glory as an independent race. And this apparently is the destiny which our conquerors have in view. If indeed they can mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble before the righteous rage of Virginia freemen; but will have a race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political subjection, which they desire to fix on the South."

Arthur Robinson's choice to include Robert Lewis Dabney's treatment of Stonewall Jackson is at one level appropriate for a curriculum apparently designed to inculcate militarism in children - Jackson has long been considered one of America's greatest military tacticians.

But while the Robinson Curriculum includes books about the two leading Northern generals of the Civil War, William Tecumsah Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant, the curriculum strangely omits the South's top general, himself a brilliant military tactician, Robert E. Lee, who supported President Andrew Johnson's program of Reconstruction.

Robert E. Lee's views on slavery and race appear to have been representative of his historical and cultural milieu. Author of a 1934 Lee biography Douglas Southall Freeman wrote that,

"most religious people of Lee's class in the border states... believed that slavery existed because God willed it and they thought it would end when God so ruled. The time and the means were not theirs to decide, conscious though they were of the ill-effects of Negro slavery on both races. Lee shared these convictions of his neighbors without having come in contact with the worst evils of African bondage. He spent no considerable time in any state south of Virginia from the day he left Fort Pulaski in 1831 until he went to Texas in 1856. All his reflective years had been passed in the North or in the border states. He had never been among the blacks on a cotton or rice plantation." [R.E. Lee, by D.S. Freeman, page 372]

Robinson's choice to include in his curriculum a book by Dabney but omit material on Robert E. Lee is curious, as is his decision to include not one but two books presenting constitutional arguments in support of Southern succession, from the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis (The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, 1881) and from the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens (A CONSTITUTIONAL VIEW OF THE LATE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES; ITS CAUSES, CHARACTER, CONDUCT AND RESULTS, 1868)

But the inclusion of the Dabney book is suggestive given Arthur Robinson's ties to Christian Reconstructionism and the theological role that the writings of Robert Lewis Dabney have played in the religious ideology underlying the white separatist organization The League of the South.

As Edward H. Sebesta and Euan Hague wrote in their introduction to a paper published Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue canadienne d'études américaines 32, no. 3, 2002,

"Formed in Alabama in 1994, the League of the South is a nationalist organization that advocates secession from the United States of America and the establishment of a fifteen-state Confederate States of America (CSA) - four states more than seceded during the US Civil War (1861-1865), the additional states being Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland (Southern Patriot). With over ten thousand members, the League professes a commitment to constructing this new CSA based on a reading of Christianity and the Bible that can be identified as "Christian nationalist." This position is centred upon what we identify as the theological war thesis, an assessment that interprets the nineteenth-century CSA to be an orthodox Christian nation and understands the 1861-1865 US Civil War to have been a theological war over the future of American religiosity fought between devout Confederate and heretical Union states. In turn, this reasoning leads to claims that the "stars and bars" battle flag and other Confederate icons are Christian symbols and the assertion that opposition to them equates to a rejection of Christianity.

The theological war thesis originated in the Southern Presbyterian Church of the mid-nineteenth century, its advocates including Robert Lewis Dabney (1820- 1898), professor at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson's army chaplain; James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862), President of South Carolina College, later professor at Columbia Theological Seminary; and Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902), founding editor of the Southern Presbyterian Review, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, and later pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. Following the Civil War, the Southern Presbyterian Church published biographies of and writings by Dabney, Thornwell, and Palmer. This work remained outside the more mainstream "Lost Cause" apologetics for the Confederacy (see Pollard; Osterweis, Romanti- cism and Myth; Gallagher and Nolan). Thus, it comprised a marginal body of literature until Southern Agrarian Richard M. Weaver (1910- 1963), Christian Reconstructionist Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) and Presbyterian leader C. Gregg Singer (1910-1999) revived interest in these writings after World War II."

[for more on this issue, see Neo-Confederates and the Revival of "Theological War" for the "Christian Nation" , by Religion Dispatches editor Sarah Posner, which includes material on ties between several prominent Republican politicians and neo-Confederate groups.]

Footnote #3

Gary North is one of the leading and most prolific of Christian Reconstructionism's top writers, thinkers, and strategists. The Robinson Curriculum website has featured, for the last 15 years on its "Resources" page, links both to Gary North's website and the website of the the leading Christian Reconstructionist institution, the Vallecito, CA-based Chalcedon Institute, founded by Rousas J. Rushdoony (and now headed by Rushdoony's son). In 1981, following the election of President Ronald Reagan, Chalcedon was identified by Newsweek magazine as the preeminent think tank of the religious right.

Indicating the closeness of his friendship with Robinson, in 2011 Gary North posted, on his personal website, a letter written by Art Robinson suggesting that the "DeFazio political machine" (Robinson was preparing to run for DeFazio's U.S. Congressional seat in the 2012 election) had been behind "an effort to arrange the expulsion of my three children, Joshua, Bethany, and Matthew, from their graduate studies in nuclear engineering at Oregon State University -- a DeFazio political stronghold."

North and Art Robinson have had an ongoing relationship that spans close to three decades :

In 1986, Arthur Robinson coauthored, with North (son-in-law of the Reconstructionist movement's founder R.J. Rushdoony), a book on how to survive nuclear war titled, Fighting Chance: Ten Feet To Survival. The book advocated bringing back the sort of aggressive nuclear war civil defense program that led to the US government's civil defense film "Duck and Cover" shown in US schools to schoolchildren in the 1950's and 1960's.

In a 2002 post, Robinson's friend North described how his friend Art Robinson had recently purchased a $3 million dollar professional printing press, for pennies on the dollar, which Robinson uses to print the novels of G.A. Henty, an optional adjunct component of the Robinson Curriculum - which North and other Reconstructioist leaders have endorsed.

The centrality of education to the Christian Reconstructionist political program is revealed in writing by Gary North in the first volume of the journal Christianity and Civilization, published by the Geneva Divinity School in Spring, 1982 (available here, at North's website.) On page 25, North writes,

"So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God's law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the heart of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort." [p.25]

In an undated conversation with Christian Reconstructionist Gary North that first appeared on the Robinson Curriculum website in 1999, Arthur Robinson declares, "How far down the children of America [in public schools] have come is just, almost unspeakable." The Robinson Curriculum website also features an essay from Rousas Rushdoony.

As one of its few books that addresses the 20th Century, the Robinson Curriculum includes a 1961 paean to great American industrialists, inventors, and financiers by John Chamberlain, The Enterprising Americans: A Business History of the United States. The book had been out of print until 1991, when it was reprinted by The Institute For Christian Economics, Dr. Gary North's personal publishing house.

The central think tank of Christian Reconstructionism has long been the Chalcedon Institute, founded by Rushdoony, and while several pages on the Robinson Currriculum website link to the Chalcedon Institute website, the Chalcedon Institute in turn features writing promoting the Robinson Curriculum as well as the novels of G.A. Henty, which are especially revered within the Christian Reconstructionism homeschooling movement, and are sold by leading Christian Reconstructionist organizations such as Doug Phillips' Vision Forum. By all indications, the Robinson Curriculum has enjoyed enthusiastic backing from top Christian Reconstructionist leaders and institutions.

Among the other numerous Art Robinson/Christian Reconstructionism ties include the fact that, according to an interview with Gary North, and the 2006 Sept/Oct issue of the Chalcedon Institute's publication Faith For All Life, the Robinson Curriculum was developed in conjunction with Christian Reconstructionist Arnold Jagt, who manages many of Arthur Robinson's websites and sells the Robinson Curriculum and also the G.A. Henty Books,

In an article in the Sept/Oct 2006 Faith For All Life issue, in an article titled "Let's Go See Rushdoony!, Jagt describes,

"For Gary North I created freebooks.com, and with Dr. Robinson I created robinsoncurriculum.com and the software for the first version of the Robinson Curriculum, a computerized facsimile of the homeschooling process Dr. Robinson used to homeschool his children after his wife died. This curriculum was created in response to the rising godlessness of the public schools and the need for a curriculum that could be used by parents unable to cope with teaching multiple children in multiple subjects every day."

Arnold Jagt's level of devotion to R.J. Rushdoony shows in his monumental effort, described in the story, to turn all of Rushdoony's 1,600-odd sermons and lectures into Mp3 digital format.

In his conversation with Gary North, about the Robinson Curriculum, Arthur Robinson responds to North's question on how parents can acquire the curriculum,

"It's available in two ways. One is, they can write to us directly, and they send it to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine... The other way, a man who worked with you and who worked with us in developing the curriculum, Arnold Jagt, has a website, and he sells it at Robinson Curriculum.com"

Gary North has enthusiastically recommended The Robinson Curriculum in a post published at www.lewrockwell.com:

"There is only one curriculum that is geared entirely to self-education: Dr. Arthur Robinson's. He wants parents to get out of the way of their children's education as early as possible.

Because his K-12 CD-ROM-based curriculum sells for $200, once per family, it is the best bargain in the history of education. But it is not for parents of Momma's boys and girls.

The best thing about the Robinson Curriculum is that it ends forever the seeming legitimacy of the complaint, "We just can't afford private education." A family can buy this curriculum for $200 -- the cost of a pair of running shoes -- plus the cost of a set of the Saxon math books. After that, it only costs paper and toner.

Because Christian parents are generally more concerned with protecting their children socially than with training up intellectual warriors, Robinson's approach to education is not widely accepted in Christian circles."

In 2012 Art Robinson's run for U.S. Congress was endorsed by Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (the second time Paul had ensorsed a Robinson political campaign), and Paul's Liberty PAC donated $5,000 to the 2012 Robinson campaign as well.

While Former Congressman Paul has long sought to brand himself a "libertarian", both his affiliations and politics align more closely with the Christian Reconstructionist movement.

Like Art Robinson, Ron Paul's relationship with prominent Christian Reconstructionist Gary North tracks back decades: in 1976, when Paul served an eight-month interim term in Congress and chose North to be a member of his Congressional staff. As with Robinson, the relationship tracks into the present.

As researcher Rachel Tabachnick describes, over the last several years, Ron Paul has teamed up with Gary North, and Neo-Confederate writer Thomas Woods, Jr. (a self-described co-founder of the Christian nationalist, Neo-Confederate group League of the South) in developing a Christian home-schooling curriculum due to be released on September 2, 2013.

North's partnership with Ron Paul is part of a larger political strategy. Wrote North in 2008, on his personal website (www.garynorth.com),

"In Phase 1 of Ron Paul's political strategy, he achieved national name recognition among conservatives and libertarians, raised over $28 million, assembled a huge data base -- a postage-free data base -- and got network TV interviews all over YouTube, which are permanent. Nothing like this has ever been done in the history of libertarianism. The mainstream media perceive none of this. All they perceive is the vote percentages in the primaries. This is a good thing. The blinder the mainstream media are to what is really going on here, the better. [...] He can and should maintain the official position that he is still running for President. That position will be non-news. Non-news is just what the doctor ordered. When the media finally go away, he can get down to business. What I am about to describe is a strategy that involves quietly moving below the media's radar."
In 1982, in a Christian Reconstructionist publication, North described the function of Christian private schools and Christ home-schooling for advancing North's theocratic movement:
"So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God's law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the heart of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort."
While Gary North typically bills his politics as "libertarian", they are more accurately identified as a type of "theocratic libertarianism" which fuses radical laissez-faire market capitalism with extreme, coercive social conservatism rooted in biblical law - as Rachel Tabachnick demonstrates in her article Theocratic Libertarianism: Quotes from Gary North, Ludwig von Mises Institute Scholar. Writes Tabachnick,
"North's writing explains the theocratic libertarianism of Christian Reconstructionism, a Dominionist movement which would dramatically reduce the federal government and control society through enforcement of biblical law at the local and state levels. Theocratic libertarianism has become a foundational philosophy for some of the Religious Right, but it is also surprisingly seductive to Tea Partiers and young people, some of whom may not fully understand what is supposed to happen after the federal government is stripped of its regulatory powers. "
Footnote #4

Winston Churchill's life and career spanned from the Victorian and British Colonial era into the latter part of the 20th Century, and so it is little surprise that the young Churchill's writing showed racial and cultural attitudes characteristic of British Colonialism. But in choosing to include, as its sole Churchill offering, Winston Churchill's 1909 travelogue My African Journey, the Robinson Curriculum presents a concentrated version of racist and colonialist attitudes that Churchill himself later in life moved away from. On pages 37-38, we find the young Churchill explaining, in a quintessential expression of Kipling's "White Man's Burden",

"No one can travel for even a little while among the Kikuyu tribes without acquiring a liking for these light-hearted, tractable, if brutish children, or without feeling that they are capable of being instructed and raised from their present degradation. There are more than four million aboriginals in East Africa alone. Their care imposes a grave, and I think inalienable, responsibility upon the British government. It will be an ill day for these native races when their fortunes are removed from the impartial and august administration of the Crown..."
The "august administration of the Crown" was to prove less than fully ennobling for Kenyans seeking independence from British rule in the 1950s and 1960s - the British suppressed the Kenyan rebellion with atrocities, wholesale killings, the use of concentration camps, and systemic torture that included the castration of men and the sexual abuse of women.

Churchill talks casually about "inferior races" and, on page 48, displays his concern that thrifty and industrious Asians might "clear the white man" from Africa "as surely and as remorselessly as the brown rat extirpated the black [rat] from British soil". Riding through the highlands of East Africa, Churchill wonders, on page 56, "how is it they never have become the home of some superior race, prosperous, healthy, and free?" And so on.




Display:
Doesn't begin to describe it.

In fact, Haiti did enjoy a brief, blessed period: between the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. At that time, though slavery existed de jure, it was not being enforced. A leader named Jean François had as good as broken the power of the slave owners shortly after the Bastille fell, and the French government was not strong enough to reimpose it- until Napoleon, who began to exercise his (secret) intent to re-enslave the blacks of the French Caribbean. Haiti alone was strong enough to resist, and she had to pay in blood and gold for her freedom from France. To her we owe the Louisiana Territory, for it was her privateers that made it too costly for Napoleon to govern and defend; for recompense, she got only contempt and persecution from the Southern states of the Territory, especially Louisiana.

Thirty years ago, I taught Haitian men detained at Krome. Those who could afford a secondary school education would have put most of our college graduates to shame. The others were barely literate in either French or Creole, but they were dilligent, attentive, and hardworking. All were mannerly, and tolerated no unseemliness in the class. To teach in a public school with such students would be an unmitigated pleasure.

I should like to know how this disseminator of bigotry got a printing press for pennies on the dollar, though. Is it an ETAOIN SHRDLU?

by Rey Mohammed on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 08:46:31 PM EST

I don't know. But as for how he got it, Robinson has lots of connections.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 10:03:25 PM EST
Parent
It's what they called the old-fashioned linotypes, which went out in the seventies. Sometimes they had to cast extra letters to use up their typemetal, ETAOIN SHRDLU, which was not supposed to be printed. Every once in a while, though, it was, and we read it with the morning papers.

by Rey Mohammed on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:58:46 AM EST
Parent



Just noticed that Gary North is recommending Art Robinson's curriculum for those who can't wait until the free part of the Ron Paul Homeschool Curriculum is posted.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:40:13 PM EST
...of Ron Paul's Homeschool curriculum scheme is truly for the benefit of homeschoolers, and how much is blatant snake oil, with a great side bennie of producing wonderful donees to the cause and gullible buyers of his Laissez-faire capitalist ideals.

by trog69 on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 02:49:34 AM EST
Parent


You have far more patience to wade through these antiquated texts than I would. It also doesn't come as a big surprise that Henty's work passed into the public domain long ago.

by khughes1963 on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 04:02:07 PM EST
...the Henty books have become new again, relevant that is.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 08:06:20 PM EST
Parent


It's incredibly well-researched; it's long; it's a tough slog; it's worth the trouble. It's classic Bruce Wilson & thank goodness for that.

by Bill Berkowitz on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:47:34 PM EST

It makes it easier to understand where they get their ideas, the basis for them, and the examples they use to support them. It is terrible to see young minds molded in that poisonous way. They could grow up to be citizens of a Holy American Empire who would teach every child from those books or even updated American versions of them for the coming generations. After they institute racial segregation into bantustans or homelands like the S. African's did under the whites on they would be in the continental USA.

by Nightgaunt on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:42:25 PM EST

the despicable ideas pushed by Mr. Robinson. Being lengthy is now a fatal thing for a well-researched article, and that is a shameful thing.

by trog69 on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 02:53:18 AM EST


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