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Constitution Day speaker to address history

By Staff | Aug 13, 2012

“Manufacturing Intent: Five Ways to Abuse History While Pretending to Interpret the Constitution” is the title of the Constitution Day lecture to be presented by Dr. Michael Austin at 7 p.m, Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, 213 North King Street. Austin’s talk, the eighth annual Tom E. Moses Memorial Lecture on the U.S. Constitution, is part of the observance of Constitution Day at Shepherd University. A discussion, book-signing and reception will follow. The program is free and open to the public.

Michael Austin earned his Ph.D. in English Literature in 1997 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 1997-2008, he taught English and then served as Dean of Graduate Studies at Shepherd University. Austin joined Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, as Provost and Professor of English in 2008. He is the author or editor of six books and numerous articles.

Austin’s latest work, That’s Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America’s Right Wing, examines the writings and broadcasts of Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart and David Barton. That’s Not What They Meant! exposes the ways these media personalities use and abuse America’s founding history. In contrast to their method of citing proof texts to serve a narrow agenda, Austin allows the Founding Fathers to speak for themselves, situating their words in the proper historical context. That’s Not What They Meant! provides a clearer understanding of how the founders, who often disagreed with one another on key issues, created a system of debate and compromise that has kept American democracy vibrant for more than two hundred years. Ray Smock, Director of the Byrd Center, in the foreword he wrote for Austin’ book, states, “This book is a clarion call that it is time for Americans to find ways to renew and revive civil discourse in our nation’s affairs.”

Constitution Day was established in 2005 through the leadership of Senator Robert C. Byrd. It is celebrated the week of Sept. 17 each year because it was on Sept. 17, 1787 that delegates meeting in Philadelphia in the Federal Convention approved the U.S. Constitution. Events are held at educational institutions and government facilities all across the country.

Held each year at Shepherd University in conjunction with Constitution Day, The Tom E. Moses Memorial Lecture on the U.S. Constitution is named for the late Tom E. Moses, long-time civil libertarian and defender of the Bill of Rights. Moses founded the Eastern Panhandle branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and served on the board of directors of the ACLU-WV. The Moses Memorial Lecture brings distinguished speakers to Shepherd University each September to discuss major issues related to the Constitution and civil liberties. The lecture series was established by Tom’s daughters, Lynn Moses Yellott, Merle Crawford and Jeri Moses-Eichler.

The Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies is a private, nonpartisan and nonprofit educational organization with facilities on the campus of Shepherd University. The mission of the Center is to help foster better public understanding of the United States Congress, the Constitution, and representative democracy, historically and in a contemporary setting.

For more information contact David Hostetter at 304-876-5701 or dhostett@shepherd.edu.