A $1 pocket version of the US Constitution has jumped to become the No.2 best-seller in books on Amazon after Gold Star father Khizr Khan delivered an emotional speech condemning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention last Thursday.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said last week in Philadelphia, as he pulled out a copy of the US founding document.
The edition currently topping the Amazon charts however is not the one Khan held up. Instead, it is a version published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “
fringe Mormon group” founded by a conservative author described by the Los Angeles Times as an “anticommunist conspiracy theorist.”
The 52-page booklet includes all 4,543 words inscribed by the Founding Fathers, with 18th century spelling and punctuation preserved, but with ultra-right, Bible-based notes and annotations throughout the book, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Many Amazon shoppers were dissatisfied with the edition. “Please do not get this edition,” one reviewer said. “This isn’t just the constitution. It’s a bunch of right-wing propaganda brought to you by a tax-exempt propaganda cabal,” another wrote.
While the book is confirmed to contain the annotations and notes, exactly who wrote them is unclear.
Numerous reviewers cited W. Cleon Skousen, the founder of the NCCS, whom Time magazine once labelled an “exemplar of the right-wing ultras.” The Los Angeles Times also said those notations were wrote by Skousen.
There were other reviewers, however, complaining about the lack of Skousen’s “brain droppings” in the booklet and regarded the purchase as “the most painful dollar I have ever let go of.” That reviewer wrote, “There is no content or comment by Skousen in it. Not a word,” Another responded, “There is no copy out there like this that has anything to do with Skousen. “
Florida state officials distributed 80,000 copies of the booklets at public schools across the state in 2013, until the Tampa Bay Times noted its religious messages.
“It’s shameful. This group promotes a version of American history that is false at its base,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told the newspaper. “The danger is that this leads people down an entirely false path as to what our country is all about.”
There are more than 15,000,000 copies of NCCS’s pocket Constitution in circulation, according to the organisation.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union is now offering non-annotated copies of the Constitution for free.
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