Steven L Taylor at OTB dissects the fussing over teaching of the Federalist Papers. Teabaggers apparently think that the Papers are not studied in college (they are) and that they’re some kind of secret decoder ring telling us what’s really going on in the Constitution (they’re not). Taylor’s post is worth a read for the details.
This strikes me as of a piece with the recent butthurt over Dan Savage’s “bullshit” comments, where he pointed out that it’s the picking and choosing of Bible verses that determines “what the Bible says” in evangelical Christian culture. The uproar over this was a solid case of the emperor’s new clothes–how dare Savage point out that the process by which something is discarded and other things are canonical is arbitrary and driven by human whim?
If you’re the right kind of flim-flam man, find yourself a text that’s obscure, lengthy and stylistically impenetrable to modern readers. Then, come up with an exegesis of what that text “says”, hopefully one that reinforces the prejudices and predilections of some narrow band of easily led rubes. You’ll make big bank until you’re uncovered. This is what’s happened with the Federalist papers and the teabaggers, and it’s what certain preachers do with the Bible. There’s nothing really complex or new going on here, but boy do the flim-flammers squeal when they’re found out.