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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Heritage Foundation leader Jim DeMint continued to make a mockery of the term “think tank” this week, when he offered a spectacularly stupid theory about the Civil War.

During an interview on the Christian radio show Vocal Point, the conservative think-tank leader uncorked the following explanation of how the government didn’t actually have much to do with freeing the slaves:

Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

Welcome to Jim DeMint’s America: Where big government can’t claim credit for ending slavery, but it can stop women from talking about abortion on the internet.

Of course, as Ian Millhiser points out at Think Progress, DeMint’s argument seems to overlook the fact that the Thirteenth Amendment came less from the love in Lincoln’s heart, and more from the “massive big government program known as the ‘Civil War.'” And DeMint seems to have confused the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence. And William Wilberforce died three decades before the abolition of slavery in the U.S.

But then, nobody has ever confused DeMint with a historian.

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