Thousands of Americans who flocked to buy a pocket version of the US Constitution after Muslim-American lawyer Khizr Khan held it up during his fiery speech have unwittingly bought a version annotated by a Mormon extremist.
The Pocket Constitution has become a best-seller on Amazon.com – probably because it was the cheapest edition, at $1, compared to $4.64 for a version containing only the original text.
But many may not have realised the 52-page pamphlet was printed by the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a fringe Mormon group founded by the late W. Cleon Skousen.
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Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan holds up a copy of the Constitution of the United States – but it is not the version now top of Amazon’s best-seller list
Skousen, whose most famous book was The Five Thousand Year Leap, was a Right-wing ideologue whose beliefs and conspiracy theories heavily influenced Glenn Beck.
The Intercept says the version of the Constitution which has become a best-seller claims the US is subject to a Christian God’s ruling and the federal government should not interfere in people’s lives in any way.
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The NCC version was widely praised by armed anti-government militiamen who took over the Malheur wildlife refuge building in Oregon in January.
Ammon Bundy, who led the occupation, praised the NCCS version of the Constitution and told the Los Angeles Times: ‘That’s where I get most of my information from. What we’re trying to do is teach the true principles of the proper form of government.’
Best-seller: The NCCS version, with annotations by W Cleon Skousen, is the cheapest version of the U.S. Constitution on Amazon, retailing at $1 (free on Kindle)
The Constitution emerged as a best-seller days after Muslim-American lawyer Khizr Khan, whose son Captain Humayun Khan was killed while serving in Iraq, flashed a pocket Constitution and studybay offered to lend it to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
But the version held up by Mr Khan was not the NCCS version.
WHO WAS W. CLEON SKOUSEN?
Willard Cleon Skousen was a Canadian-born ultra-conservative author who died in 2006.
He worked as an FBI Special Agent in the 1940s but left in 1951. Later the Feds had a 2,000-page file on him.
He worked as a law professor at Brigham Young University in Utah and was Salt Lake City’s police chief in late 1950s.
He argued for the elimination of all trade unions, income tax, the minimum wage and the Federal Reserve system.
His book, The Five Thousand Year Leap, has been cited by TV host Glenn Beck as being hugely influential on his own views.
The reviews on Amazon under the NCCS version make for interesting reading.
Matt Rygler wrote: ‘Thank you, Mr Khan, for reminding me I should carry this with me everywhere I go. The greatest document in the history of man.’
But another reviewer, Bill, writes: ‘This is not merely a pocket Constitution. It includes the insane ramblings of W. Cleon Skousen. He is in no way an expert in Constitutional law or American history.
‘He was an end times Mormon conspiracy crank who merely inserts his personal delusions alongside. This has led to many people who are too lazy to read the Constitution themselves and learn the history, to take his personal beliefs as fact. It has led to a great many people thinking they can take over government property, and even more stupid people supporting them.’
The American Civil Liberties Union is now offering copies of the Constitution, without any annotation, for free.
W. Cleon Skousen (left) was an influential Right-wing ideologue. His book The Five Thousand Year Leap was said to have influenced talk show host Glenn Beck (right)
Several people had posted reviews, warning of the annotations, but it appeared most people bought it without realizing who was the group behind it
Trump sparked a huge political row when he lashed out at Mr Khan’s wife, Ghazala, claiming she had stood silently next to her husband during his speech because she was ‘probably not allowed to speak’.
Mrs Khan later said she had not spoken because she was simply too distressed.
Trump defended himself, claiming Mr Khan viciously attacked him during his emotional DNC speech.
But Mr Khan said the GOP nominee has no empathy and should not be president.
The businessman condemned Khizr and Ghazala Khan for not giving him a right to respond.
He then turned his comments into an attack on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump has claimed Mr Khan viciously attacked him during his emotional DNC speech
On Twitter, he wrote: ‘I was viciously attacked by Mr Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!’
In another post he said: ‘Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our “leaders” to eradicate it!’
On CNN’s State of the Union, Mr Khan denied claims his speech was written by the Clinton campaign.
He also added that his address was shortened because of time constraints.
‘His [Trump’s] policies, his practices do not reflect that he has any understanding of the basic fundamental constitutional principles of this country, what makes this country exceptional, what makes this country exceptional in the history of the mankind.
‘There are principles of equal dignity, principle of liberty. He talks about excluding people, disrespecting judges, the entire judicial system, immigrants, Muslim immigrants. These are – divisive rhetoric that is totally against the basic constitutional principle.
‘If you read the Constitution, you will – either deliberately would be violating those principles, or you have not read.’
Ultra-Right Annotated Edition of Pocket Constitution Tops Amazon Charts After Khizr Khan’s DNC Speech
Oregon armed protesters invoke the Constitution — annotated by a conspiracy theorist – LA Times