For Richard Williams and Chris Wehner

All of this talk about nefarious academic historians has left my head spinning.  The commentary reminds me of the rhetoric from the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s.  Anyone and everyone is a target and no one who dares stand up in front of a classroom is safe.  Watch your tongue; keep your own views locked shut; and don’t let anyone see you reading the New York Times.  I want to send this post out to Chris Wehner who has done a fabulous job of exposing me for the radical that I am and to Richard Williams who, apparently, has never attended college, but has made it his life’s mission to expose the university as a bastion of anti-American ideologues.  Wonderful work gentlemen.


One of my Facebook friends shared with me the following print by Jon McNaughton, titled, “One Nation Under God”.  Supposedly, the image is the result of a vision the artist had during the 2008 election.  Click here for the above image and run your cursor for descriptions of each individual.  I will leave it to you to interpret it, but I wanted to point out “The Professor”, who is positioned on the stairs just to Jesus’s left.  Notice that Satan himself is positioned close by.  The Professor holds a copy of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and if you run your cursor over him the following pop-up description appears:

He holds his “Origin of Species” book by Charles Darwin.  This represents the liberal lefts control of our educational system.  His smug expression describes the attitude of many of the educational elite.  There is no room for God in education.  There is contempt for any other viewpoints.  Humanism dominates the educational system of America and I believe that is wrong.  Notice that he is the only one sitting on the top step.  He tries to place himself on an equal footing with God, but he is still nothing next to the intelligence of the creator.

Yeah, I know plenty of people who fit this description.  In fact, I can’t wait to hang out with a bunch of them next month at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in Louisville.  You gotta love it.

One final point.  Why is the Union soldier on the left crying?  Why isn’t he standing tall and proud as a symbol of the end of slavery?  I assume that is part of God’s plan for America.  Perhaps he could be positioned next to Frederick Douglass, who is barely visible in the back.

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39 comments… add one
  • charlesbowery Oct 9, 2009 @ 7:53

    Awesome. Sometimes I am truly afraid for my country.

  • timabbott Oct 8, 2009 @ 22:03

    I think it is a crying shame that the artist considers that angelic fair-haired child a handicap. I blame the professor for the literacy of the artist.

  • Chris Oct 8, 2009 @ 21:34

    You are comparing me to McCarthy. I compared you to Zinn. Also, I apologized on my site for the personal nature this has taken and I regret those comments below. Find it funny all you want. Ok, we will continue… I can play ball.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 9, 2009 @ 4:13


      I also expressed regret on my site. Now you know what it is like to have your words twisted beyond anything you intended. Deal with it. Like I said, for some reason this has become personal to you. I never singled you out in my comments and yet you did. I refuse to be put in a position of responsibility for all of this. You decided to remove my blog from your list w/o any legitimate reason. You decided to refer to one of my posts w/o providing a link and you mangled my own commentary. Again, I am sorry it has come to this. Let's move on.

  • msimons Oct 8, 2009 @ 9:19

    This painting is nothing more than a far right propaganda piece. As a Christian I am repulsed by it.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 8, 2009 @ 9:25

      You should be offended as a Christian and as a thinking being.

    • Vince Oct 9, 2009 @ 0:58

      This painting has haunted me since I first saw it here. From a theological perspective, it's abhorrent. Both fundamentalists and Christians with deeper theological traditions should reject the painting for how it subordinates Christ to the nation's interests. And I was confused, too, about the historical figures in the paintings (why not more Lost Cause elements?), until it was pointed out elsewhere that the painting falls into the category of Mormon conservatism.

      It will be interesting to see responses to the painting, as it should provoke differences between the Christian Right and Glenn Beck Mormons (for lack of a better descriptor). I think even Christians who argue the Constitution was a divine blessing would recoil at its being depicted as a sacrament given directly by Christ.

      From some browsing online about the painting…
      There's probably something better informed/more formal than these sites, but here's a Southern Baptist layperson's perspective:
      Conservative Lutheran reactions:

      And, of course, a spoof…

  • John R. Maass Oct 8, 2009 @ 6:45

    This reminds me of a WP article I just read, here:….
    One of the state legislators of GA is quoted as saying “Our Founding Fathers had one thing in mind when they founded this country, and it was a Christian nation built upon the principles of Jesus Christ.”
    In all my graduate work in US History at OSU I never heard that!!

    • Kevin Levin Oct 8, 2009 @ 6:47

      Nice to hear from you and I trust all is well. Thanks for the link. The reason you didn't hear about it is because your professors were a bunch of Godless academics who hate the Founding Fathers – or something along those lines. 🙂

  • Chris Oct 7, 2009 @ 17:45

    “of this talk about nefarious academic historians has left my head spinning. The commentary reminds me of the rhetoric from the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s. Anyone and everyone is a target and no one who dares stand up in front of a classroom is safe. ”

    Levin please share with your readers where I relate you to anything regarding the “Red Scare”? That is your wonderful implication here, I guess. Please give your readers a link where I even call you a “Radical” or better yet a “Commie.” Funny actually. I call you arrogant, but that’s about it. You seem to have scolded me for commenting about you without links if I recall. You want to associate me with McCarthyism, very nice, please do prove it.


    • Kevin Levin Oct 8, 2009 @ 4:18


      It's funny to me that you would be so concerned about me loosely interpreting your own words after you've spend the better part of two weeks butchering my own commentary. It would have been very easy to engage me in a serious discussion about the concept of AE and its application in the classroom. We've disagreed in the past, but our last Online discussion was very mature and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I learned quite a bit from our exchange. For some reason this time around it seemed much more personal and bitter. You started by failing to provide a link to the post that you were citing. You were not the object of my comments, but you responded as if you were. As for the evidence of referring to me as a “radical” the word itself was not used, but you had this to say:

      “However, I will offer a guess. (Note, this is my own personal opinion!) Levin has issues with the Republican Party going back to Reconstruction and what they failed to accomplish. He is also disappointed in what the American Revolution failed to accomplish. He is very much like Howard Zinn. But that is the problem, America was exceptional for what it was attempting. It initially failed to live up to our modern and presentists views. I wish our Founders were able to give equality to all, though nowhere else on such a scale was there anything close to early America in terms of political participation.”

      Comparing me to Howard Zinn is close enough to me as I believe he takes a radical stance on a number of levels when it comes to the practice of history. That passage of yours sealed it for me that you are not serious about engaging me. Rather, you were content to set up a strawman and knock it down.

      I'm sorry it has come to this. We are both AP US History teachers and should be relying on one another for support. I know how challenging it is for a first year AP teacher and I wish you all the best in getting through the year. Even with all that has been said please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

  • acwresearcher Oct 7, 2009 @ 20:06

    “And to the left of Christ we have The All-American Barbershop Quartet: bass, George Washington; tenor Abraham Lincoln; baritone, John Adams; and lead, Alexander Hamilton.”

    I'm sorry, but even as a Christian I have a problem with this painting. It imposes the artist's personal religious agenda on historical persons. He apparently has done little reading and research on the religious beliefs of the founders.

    Sure, he can paint whatever he wants and he'll probably make money off of it and there are those who will say this is representative of American history, but that confuses the issue in the minds of the “Rising Generation.” (The boy going up to touch the Constitution.)

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 20:20

      I believe Richard Williams actually said that he believes American history should be taught as the unfolding of God's plan. My question is how do we know if he we are accurately interpreting God's plan? Can there be disagreement as to what God's plan is for American and how it has come down through the history thus far? Is this painting a legitimate representation of God's plan?

      • acwresearcher Oct 7, 2009 @ 20:40

        This is why religion is personal and should be. I believe God has a plan for individuals and those individuals are then responsible to Him for it. That's just my belief, but I can't make anyone accept that and I do not believe it is my responsibility to expand that plan theory beyond the individual to include states/nations. I know that is a rather revolting thought to some Christians, but I base that on the fact that we believe Christ is our “personal Savior,” so we are personally responsible to Him for our own actions, not the actions of others.

        Steven Wiseman in Founding Faith points out the founders' resistance to a religious state is based in the failure of those attempts by the Puritans and European nations and that they fought to ensure a separation between the state and religion based on the fear that it would impede religion, not improve it, and that a state-sponsored faith actually tramples on individual rights. That is something I would think conservatives would understand, since that is what they say they ardently support.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 20:54

          I couldn't agree more. How individuals understood themselves and their place within this world is very much a personal matter. Religion is one way to frame those beliefs.

    • acwresearcher Oct 7, 2009 @ 21:19

      I guess I should have read the actual spoof(?) post before making my original comment! 🙁

  • Larry Cebula Oct 7, 2009 @ 14:22

    A fun post, but it would be better if you hadn't framed it in the context of a feud between bloggers!

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 14:31

      I agree Larry. I know many of you would love for me to move on, but it is so frustrating to have your own words quoted and then butchered or to have to hear the most meaningless dribble by someone who has no first-hand knowledge of anything academic. I promised to do better.

  • toby Oct 7, 2009 @ 12:07

    Who's the big beardy guy in the robe & sash, with the light bulb at the back of his neck?

    • bdsimpson Oct 9, 2009 @ 13:53

      Richard Williams.

  • Heather Michon Oct 7, 2009 @ 11:05

    According to the roll-over description on the website, the Union solider is covering his face because it was the only of our wars where brother truly fought brother, or some such thing.

    My personal favorite is the pregnant woman in the front right, who is “pointing to the mother of the handicapped child and saying to herself 'I want to keep my baby.'” Because, as you know, us pro-choice folk are nothing but eugenicists who wander the streets at night forcing women to abort their children, much like Satan whispering in the ear of the Darwin-licking college professor.

    I had to look up the book he references in the front-left figure of the college student. It's “The Five-Thousand Year Leap” by W Cleon Skousen — Glen Beck Recommends! — which postulates that human civilization had barely progressed in the 5000 years prior to the settlement of Jamestown. And really, how true! The development of writing, history, philosophy, legal theory, political theory, the Enlightenment, science, the rise and fall Egyptian, Greek and Roman Empires, not to mention the establishment of Christianity and Islam (oops, scratch that!). What a bunch of layabouts.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 11:07

      I also noticed a black Union soldier. Hamilton, Adams, and Lincoln look like they are doing some kind of skit. This painting is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

      • Tom Oct 7, 2009 @ 13:07

        Check out the alternate version here:

        It has alternate text for the rollover descriptions.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 13:09

          Absolutely hilarious. Thanks so much for providing the link. Unfortunately, for some reason the link isn't working when you click it in the comment. It worked before.

    • slave2tehtink Oct 7, 2009 @ 17:46

      I think I am now going to have to find a way to work “Darwin-licking” and/or “Darwin-licking” into my everyday conversation. Possibly as I'm taking my turn wandering the streets at night forcing other women to have abortions.

  • robwick Oct 7, 2009 @ 11:00

    This would be funny (and a primer on potential art students on how not to paint) if I didn't know several people who believe everything this guy is writing. Also, the politician looks like John McCain but yet there was no Caribou Barbie next to him to represent the stupidity of…oh what's the use?


  • alun Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:48

    If you look closely you'll also notice Thomas Paine on the left, who famously wrote about the existence of God. 😉

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:51

      Yep – One wonders how he made into his vision as well as Franklin.

      • Woodrowfan Oct 7, 2009 @ 12:33

        On the original site I think he lists him as Thomas Payne. maybe it's a different guy!

        I see Grant, Lincoln, a Union soldier, a black Union soldier, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. No Lee? No Jackson? No Jeff Davis? No legions of black Confederate troops? Hey, what kind of Yankee propaganda is this anyway?!!??

        • bdsimpson Oct 7, 2009 @ 22:40

          Well, it's hard to argue for American Exceptionalism and Confederate virtue, now, isn't it? After all, if America's history unfolded according to God's plan, then what exactly did God think of the Confederacy? Not much.

          Perhaps this is why God directed those North Carolina soldiers to fire at Stonewall Jackson: to spare Jackson the truth about the Confederacy. After all, we all know that Jackson really liked black people and hated slavery. Why God forced Robert E. Lee to stay around until the end … well, we'll see.

          • Kevin Levin Oct 8, 2009 @ 4:33

            Well Brooks, God did give the Confederacy four short years. Perhaps the Lost Cause really is God's plan.

  • BlairWilliams Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:38

    Well, to be historically accurate about the painting, The Origin of Species was written when Darwin was still pretty much a believer in the Christian faith. Though some personal experiences, he slowly faded from Christian Orthodoxy, but most scholars agree that even in the Descent of Man, he believed some God-like force (not necessarily the 10 Commandments version of God) was responsible for creation (and he did mean creation) of the original beings. Natural selection was simply God's organized process.

    Now, if we're going to talk about “Godlessness” in education as a result of evolution, you need to be citing Richard Dawkins' “The Selfish Gene.” That's another story for another time, though.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:41

      I've read most of Dawkins's books, except for the “The God Delusion” and I am looking forward to hearing him in person at UVA next week. No doubt, this is even more evidence of my anti-Americanism and nihilistic/relativist world view.

  • Mannie Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:31

    Thanks for helping me discover my newest favorite painting of all time. I am particularly taken with Abraham Lincoln's interpretation of Al Jolsen.


    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:37

      Looks like a cross between Mort Kunstler and Thomas Kincaide.

  • Robert Harty Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:02

    What, no Gen. Lee?

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2009 @ 10:29

      I was also surprised that Lee didn't show up or a Confederate to accompany the Union soldier.

  • robertwelch Oct 7, 2009 @ 9:06

    Perhaps the Union soldier is crying because while he helped bring about the end of slavery, he also stood against the individual liberties of the states and crushed what can only be understood as a God ordained Ninth and Tenth Amendment structure. Obviously he's worried about Purgatory, but something tells me that the gentleman who painted this doesn't believe in such a place.

    This is a very scary painting. I wonder how many prints were sold at Tea Parties, or hang opposite “Moonlight and Magnolias” paintings across the South.

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