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Right Wing Watch caught David Barton, former Texas Republican party co-chair, christian nationalist and revisionist historian, telling whoppers as usual. He also sought to use a quote from Booker T. Washington in a rather self-serving manner, claiming that people on welfare must not read the bible enough, or else they'd want to work harder. The same old welfare stereotype that Republicans have been abusing since welfare existed, I suppose.

There is a problem, however, with holding up an authority figure and quoting them as axiomatic, as if their sayings are self-evident truths. Could come back to bite you.

For anyone asking who the hell is David Barton, some background information:

A 2005 Time magazine article entitled "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals" called Barton "a major voice in the debate over church-state separation" who, despite the fact that "many historians dismiss his thinking... [is] a hero to millions—including some powerful politicians."[10] He has been described as a Christian nationalist and "one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians"; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed,[9] that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.[11] Barton has appeared on television and radio programs, including those of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck, who has praised Barton as "the Library of Congress in shoes".[12]
Of course, the article also cites the NYT, mentioning professional historians who characterize Barton as a "biased amateur" and a cherry-picker of history and the bible. I guess this ties into the latest news nicely.

Barton's latest whoppers as reported by Right Wing Watch are from "WallBuilders Live," where he claimed one of the top law schools in the nation was at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's college for training evangelicals. The apparent problem with this claim was the demonstrable reality as reported by RWW.

Every year, US News and World Report produces a list of the best law schools in America that ranks the top 150 schools and Liberty University Law School was ranked number "Rank Not Published," meaning it didn't even qualify among the top 150.  Thus, it is a little hard to understand how it could be considered one of the top law schools in the nation when it doesn't even make the list of top law schools in the nation.
And that's bad enough, BSing about Right-Wing U. as if it's some great school when it's not. Of course they would praise their indoctrination centers. But then there was the piece about welfare, when Barton quoted Booker T. Washington, just because it "makes perfect sense" to him. Here is Right Wing Watch, quoting Barton:
Wouldn't it be interesting to do a study between those that are on welfare and see how much and how often they read the Bible. You know, if Booker T. Washington is right that Christianity and reading the Bible increases your desires and therefore your ability for hard work; if we take that as an axiom, does that mean that the people who are getting government assistance spend nearly no time in the Bible, therefore have no desire, and therefore no ability for hard work? I could go a lot of places with this. I would love to see this proven out in some kind of sociological study, but it makes perfect sense.
Now, I don't know why David Barton would find virtue in an activity that increases one's desires, synonymous with coveting; something I seem to recall is thought to be bad in the bible, don't they stick it on monuments all over the South? Yes, it seems as if Barton is aware of those. To the point that he compared the crowd protecting Roy Moore's monument to the civil rights activists of the 1960s. Feh.

Anyway, it can be problematic to find some figure of authority, real or imagined, and call what they say axiomatic. As a skeptic, I've learned to expect human beings to be imperfect, that folks can be really right about one thing and extremely wrong about something else. Christopher Hitchens and his Iraq war support, for example. Perhaps the same might be said of Booker T. Washington, but I don't know enough about him to say. What I've read today, about his differences with the NAACP over how best to advance the cause of civil rights, has been an interesting read.

I don't know if Washington would have approved of this sort of...use...of his sayings. If I were to use David Barton's standard of evidence ("it makes perfect sense"), maybe it just makes sense to me that a fellow like Booker T. Washington wouldn't dismiss everyone who failed to pore over the bible as a bunch of unrepentant slackers. Then again, I didn't actually find the quote Barton cited, so should I trust a revisionist historian?

When it comes to his quoted works, however, it's not hard to find other quotations of Booker T. Washington and just wonder if David Barton would find them worthy of being called axioms. Having read some today, I'm just going to offer my personal favorite. It seems pertinent today in this age of unbridled corporate influence and vulture capitalism.

In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

    "An Address on Abraham Lincoln before the Republican Club of New York City" (1909-02-12)

In closing, I noticed that I'm not the only one who wrote something disparaging of David Barton by documenting his penchant for revisionist history. A few more whoppers are mentioned here. It's interesting to consider the alternate reality built and maintained for the benefit of such deluded believers, Fox 'news' enthusiasts and right-wing radio fans. Barton is surely one of the architects of this Bizarro world, and they love him for it.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:09:37 AM PDT

  •  You know the way the Right uses"revisionist"? (5+ / 0-)

    It's yet another case of projection.  David Barton is no more a historian than I'm a decathlete, and I don't pretend to BE a decathlete.

    Cherrypicking.  Just like little Jimmy O'Keefe and everybody else in Breitbart-world.  And he even has Glenn Beck's imprimatur.  Wonder why it's all behind a pay-wall?

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 04:19:59 PM PDT

    •  Similar to how they use facts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      turn blue

      I don't think pointing out the factual inaccuracies of conservatives really hurts them among other conservatives.

      Conservatives don't like the facts: they don't like the fact that Iraq did not cause 9/11; they do not like the fact that global warming is a man-made phenomenon; they don't like the fact that lower taxes causes deficits.

      To conservatives, someone who publicly speaks out against the facts is a guy who is singing their song; he has proven himself ON THEIR SIDE!

      And since when did evangelical christians worry about facts?  These are people who claim that God gave birth to Himself to a virgin mother so as to live as a human on earth and then had Himself killed so He could live beside Himself for ever in the kingdom of heavan

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 09:45:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Three classic false assumptions by Barton: (9+ / 0-)

    That being a Christian and reading the Bible must increase your desire and ability for hard work;

    That poor people on government assistance must not be strong Christians or read the Bible;

    that poor people on government assistance must have no desire or ability for hard work.

    There is no way to prove any of these propositions, and plenty of example to the contrary.

    Here's an axiom that is supported by many of the statements attributed to Jesus: That people who make blanket condemnations of the habits and character of the less fortunate while wallowing in smug self-satisfaction about their own moral superiority are not good Christians.

  •  This idiot annoys me as a historian. (15+ / 0-)

    I'm an actual historian, the kind with the degrees, the books, and the academic position to go with it.  Barton's dross makes my head hurt.  Even more so, the fact that he's had to learn enough to be able to cherry-pick as he does is what ruins my faith in people.  He's an amateur who doesn't understand methodology or context and instead engages in rampant presentism without apology.  The fact that anyone grants him any kind of legitimacy says an awful lot about the success of the Republican war on education.  Forty years ago, someone like this wouldn't have passed muster anywhere.  But now, he's a hero, on wingnut welfare.

    •  A biased amateur (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, kyril, wasatch

      Did the New York Times quote you?  :)  Seriously, I am sorry that you have to put up with fellows like this. I have to wonder if he believes what he says, or if he's just that glib.

      "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

      by tytalus on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 04:46:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, he's a propagandist who is (5+ / 0-)

      masquerading as an historian. Sadly, most people don't want to know what's behind the mask.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 06:50:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Barton embodies something that I've watched (9+ / 0-)

      spread like a disease on the right, a bottomless mendacity that corrupts the soul.They have rejected, with prejudice, any fidelity to a normal understanding of truth, facts, or shared methods of interrogating them and arriving at conclusions or solutions to problems. That is, they have rejected living in a shared world that they do not dominate. They have rejected conscience, which is in essence a something shared.

      They have replaced it with a unflinching determination to adhere to a brutal ideology that demands an unreflective embrace of its rectitude and of its superiority, not only to all other ideologies but to what they used to recognize as reality itself.

      Theirs is a world based on an interlocking framework of tendentious fabrications and harsh moralizing. They see the harshness of a moral judgement as a measure of its value. In argument they seek not truth but conquest and reinforcement of their ideological convictions. They have unhinged themselves from the rest of us and determined that those who are not with them are against them, which, it turns out is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Through their actions they have corrupted their hearts and souls. No good can come from that, but much hate and fear.

      "The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles." Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan

      by psnyder on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 07:04:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Get thee to a nunnery vile Barton (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, tytalus

    These Christy sonsabitches are breeding and brainwashing a new brood who the historical Jesus would probably have dissed mercilessly.

    ..and we sang dirges in the dark the day - Do you recall what was the feel, the day, the music died -- Don McLean

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 07:46:11 PM PDT

  •  Shills like Barton (7+ / 0-)

    are just the tip of the iceberg. The right has developed a whole cottage industry in fabricating a bogus alternate history that gratifies their bigotry, complete with "textbooks" promoting the myth that the US is a "Christian Nation" founded by a Right Wing God.

  •  More info about David Barton (6+ / 0-)

    “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” –Blaise Pascal

    by dskoe on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:00:20 PM PDT

  •  Why do people keep repeating the lie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, LeftOverAmerica

    that one can get and stay on "welfare" for a lifetime, and then pass that way of life on to the next generation?

    It just isn't possible any longer to stay on welfare for more than five years in a lifetime. It's damn near impossible to get on in the first place if one is a single adult with no dependent children. I guess some might count SSDI as some kind of welfare, but one has to actually be disabled to draw a check -- and even that isn't guaranteed. If you make ten bucks over the limit at a part-time job, you might find yourself dropped from the rolls next month.

    Why can't anyone push back efficiently on this zombie lie that right-wingers keep trying to bring back to life? Where are the statistics on how many actually draw benefits monthly? How many are children or elderly?

    Do these whiners even KNOW anyone on welfare? AFDC? Medicaid? SNAP? Have they ever tried to apply?

    It's just not that easy to get a handout these days. And if it is, somebody please tell me how and where to go to get all these alleged goodies.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 05:24:22 PM PDT

  •  First things first (0+ / 0-)

    These guys are so wrong on so many counts it's hard to know where to start. However, at the very foundation of drawing people to consideration of spiritual issues is the requirement to remove their concern for essential physical survival.  

    The well known Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs lays out one model for that:

    •    Physiological needs are to do with the maintenance of the human body. If we are unwell, then little else matters until we recover.
    •    Safety needs are about putting a roof over our heads and keeping us from harm. If we are rich, strong and powerful, or have good friends, we can make ourselves safe.
    •    Belonging needs introduce our tribal nature. If we are helpful and kind to others they will want us as friends.
    •    Esteem needs are for a higher position within a group. If people respect us, we have greater power.
    •    Self-actualization needs are to 'become what we are capable of becoming', which would our greatest achievement.

    In fact, one of the most well-known "evangelists" of his day, with powerful impact into the present, recognized these issues. William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army said:

    'Nobody gets a blessing if they have cold feet and nobody ever got saved while they had toothache!'
    But what is the use of preaching the Gospel to men whose whole attention is concentrated upon a mad, desperate struggle to keep themselves alive?
    When in the streets of London a cab horse, weary or careless or stupid, trips and falls and has stretched out in the midst of the traffic, there is no question of debating how he came to stumble before we try to get him on his legs again.  The cab horse is a very real illustration of poor, broken down humanity - he usually falls down because of over work and under feeding.  If you put him on his feet without altering his conditions, it would only be to give him another dose of agony; but first of all you'll have to pick him up again.  It may have been through overwork or underfeeding, or it may have been all his own fault that he has broken his knees and smashed the shafts, but that does not matter.  If not for his own sake, then merely in order to prevent an obstruction of the traffic, all attention is concentrated upon the question of how we are to get him on his legs again.  The load is taken off, the harness is unbuckled or, if need be, cut, and everything is done to help him up. Then he is put in the shafts again and once more restored to his regular round of work. That is the first point.  The second is that every cab horse in London has three things: a shelter for the night, food for its stomach, and work allotted to it by which it can earn its corn.
    These are the two points of the Cab Horse Charter.  When he is down he is helped up, and while he lives he has food, shelter and work.  That, although a humble standard, is at present absolutely unattainable by millions - literally by millions - of our fellow men and women in this country.
    Where are Barton and his ilk in militating for a living wage, food stamps, free day care, or any of the other supports that would enable people to even have any opportunity to turn their thoughts to self-actualization or higher spiritual ideals?

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 06:22:01 PM PDT

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