Yesterday I talked about a New York Times piece on the Tea Party reading list. I mentioned several authors, including Bastiat, Mises, Hayek, and even Saul Alinsky. As an astute reader mentioned, I did not bring up W. Cleon Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap, which Ms. Zernike’s article treats at some length.
I also did not deign to mention a few books merely cited, such as Atlas Shrugged and The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.
Well, of the books I didn’t mention, I’d only read one. And it wasn’t The 5000 Year Leap. More importantly, the title of the Times piece, what interested me about it, were the classics. The 5000 Year Leap isn’t a classic yet.
But perhaps I should ask you: Have you read it? Does it deserve to be a classic?
The New York Times didn’t exactly entice me into the book’s pages. According to the paper, Skousen thought Jefferson urged teaching Christianity in state public schools. This seems to fly in the face not only of Jefferson’s humanistic “Epicureanism” but also of the disestablishmentarianism of the Baptists for whom Jefferson supportively coined the expression “wall of separation between church and state.” (It’s often forgotten, these days, that, during our nation’s founding period, Baptists were ardent supporters of keeping religion and politics separate.)
But I’ve learned long ago, you can’t always trust the Times.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.