David Barton is still David Barton, which means the Religious Right’s favorite fake historian is once again distorting facts to suit his own agenda.
Last week, Barton appeared on a right-wing radio program called “The Patriot and The Preacher,” hosted by Mark Anthony – a former tech sector worker with a self-described “passion” for history – and the Rev. Ben Kinchlow – a former co-host on Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Club.”
The segment got off to a rocky start as the show claimed Barton was once named by Time magazine as “America’s Historian.” It turns out that never happened. Not even close. In 2005, Barton was named by the magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America, but nowhere in that article did the publication bestow any sort of title on him.
It didn’t get better from there. First, Barton attacked President Barack Obama for apologizing to the Japanese for America’s use of nuclear weapons during World War II. Just one problem: Obama made a point of not apologizing during his recent visit to Hiroshima.
“Two years ago when I wrote a book, I made a comment about American exceptionalism, which is something we’ve believed since Alexis de Tocqueville gave us that term in 1831,” Barton said. “I can’t tell you how many academics came out of the woodwork and just attacked me viciously, ‘How dare you say that America is a special nation, how dare you say that America has done anything right.’ The academic community is phobic over this thing and Obama, of course, was a law professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. And so that academic community, they hate America with a virility that is hard for the rest of us to understand.”
Despite Barton’s claim, there is no evidence that any of his numerous critics ever took issue with him saying that America is special. What they did take issue with, instead, is Barton’s argument that America is exceptional because its laws are based on the Bible or Christianity. On that point, Barton is of course wrong.
This guy has a lot in common with David Barton.
There is also no reason to believe that anyone who challenges Barton, including Americans United, does so out of hatred for America. AU and others are bothered by Barton’s continued influence in Religious Right circles and we attack him because he makes things up about the past in order to undermine church-state separation in the United States. Attacking someone who seeks to ignore portions of America’s chief governing document so that evangelical Christians can establish a theocracy actually seems pretty patriotic.
Perhaps Barton is jealous of true scholars because he isn’t actually a part of the academic community – his only credential is an undergraduate degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University. Let’s be clear about this: Barton is not a historian.
The people Barton lashed out at are the real historians or other academics who discredit his work and do damage to his reputation. He’s understandably upset about that.
Barton’s gripe shouldn’t be with those who correct the litany of misinformation that he spews. It should be with himself for incessantly advancing a phony narrative about American history purely to suit his own needs. He should be ashamed of his career, but it’s highly unlikely he’s capable of that sort of self-reflection.