Barbarous Founders and Other Strange, Early Morning Insights

I’m an early riser nowadays. Or at least my alarm goes off pretty early, usually 4:00 or 4:30 a.m.

Portrait of George Washington.

Portrait of George Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On good days I’m up and about by 5:00. On less good days it’s more like 6:00, 6:30, 7:00. I’m usually out of the house somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00 But earlier is better.

Why? For a variety of reasons, the main being, I have to admit, that I’m just plain SLOW in the morning.

But there are other reasons too. If I’m able to get up early enough, it’s an opportunity to take some time on my own to do some things that are hard to get to any other time–like Bible reading and prayer (both much less often than I should, unfortunately), blogging, doing research, and so on.

One thing I usually do, just as soon as my alarm goes off, is pop on my headphones and hop onto TuneIn radio on my smartphone to see whether anything interesting is happening on Coast to Coast AM. I listen to it on a California station that’s still playing the early hours of the show at the time I’m usually waking up here on the east coast. So when I want to, I can usually catch most of the show.

Yeah. I know. Coast to Coast is totally commercialized, co-opted entertainment, “controlled NON-opposition” at best, and an obfuscatory, disinformational distraction at worst. And most days it’s the usual UFO crap that I have little interest in, or the New Age crap from which I am utterly repulsed, not only for spiritual reasons but for intellectual reasons as well.

But that’s another story. The reason I listen is that at least a couple times each week they’ll have a guest on who’s worth listening too. And I also like the part-time hosts a lot better than I like Noory–like John Wells and even George Neff, who are much more up front in talking about matters of New World Order and creeping totalitarianism in the U.S. No, you’re not likely to hear things on Coast that you hear in the fringier corners of alternative talk radio, but sometimes that can be a good thing too.

So this morning was one of those mornings when there was an interesting guest on. It was Beirne Logan, talking about his new book: Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency. It sounds like a really good read, of a deep-history, “stuff they don’t teach you in high school or college” sort of ilk.

The one segment that really caught my attention and even gave me the heebie-jeebies was a discussion between Logan and Neff about how Washington wasn’t at all afraid, when he deemed it necessary, to engage in very brutal torture against enemy British soldiers the Americans had taken prisoner, partly because he know for certain that the British were sometimes doing the same thing to our guys. Washington apparently had to show that he would stop at nothing in the fight for his cause. And apparently he backed it up.

The heebie-jeebies moment actually came from an odd, disturbing historical tidbit (perhaps an unfortunate word choice, as you’ll soon see) that Neff brought up, almost out of the blue. He said he had heard stories of how Washington’s men would sometimes cut the skull of a British prisoner, pull out pieces of his brain, and hand the brain pieces to the prisoner while he was still alive.

Sickening, yes. But apparently the British did the same kind of thing too. We hear stories about how much more formal and rule-bound warfare was in those days, and that the Americans took advantage of that by using more guerrilla sorts of tactics. You’ve heard those stories about American troops making a surprise attack on a British brigade that was standing still, playing the ceremonial fife and drum, waiting for our guys to advance in a similarly formal manner.

But maybe all that was just fairy-tale grade-school textbook mythology anyway. If the formality and rules of engagement were still an issue, apparently there wasn’t an analogue in terms of how prisoners were to be treated–because atrocities were purportedly committed on both sides that would make Gitmo look like an amusement park.

Hearing that really got me thinking about that period of history from the perspective that, in the larger scheme of things, our founding fathers were arguably not that far removed from barbarism on certain levels. And yet they had the “enlightened” intellect to come up with something with the subtleties of the checks and balances in our Constitution.

But, somehow, when you put that together with the more barbarian elements, maybe it’s not so surprising that you can make a good argument that those checks and balances and rights and liberties built into the Constitution may in reality have just been window dressing on a document that created a consolidated power structure with the potential to evolve into a tyrannical monstrosity.

I’m not quite ready to draw firm conclusions, on either the vestigial barbarism angle or on the question of possible hidden agendas among the authors of the Constitution. What does become clear, however, when you face tidbits of history like these, is how little we really know about our history and about what the true state of mind was of our founders.

There are still more questions than answers. And the only thing I can say with any sense of near certainty is that it’s just more evidence that, indeed, what we were taught in school must not have been anything even close to the real deal.