revisionist history

Right Wing Round-Up

  • PFAW: Goodwin Liu Withdraws Nomination; PFAW Blasts Senate GOP's Smear Campaign.
  • Matt Finkelstein @ Political Correction: GOP Freshman Rep. Walsh Attacks American Jews For Not Being "As Pro-Israel As They Should Be."
  • Towleroad: TN Governor Claims He's Not in Favor of Discrimination After Signing Bill Voiding LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law.
  • Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk To Action: Vouchers/Tax Credits Funding Creationism, Revisionist History, Hostility Toward Other Religions.
  • Igor Volsky @ Wonk Room: Pro-Bullying Lobby: Perkins Says School Teaching Gender Acceptance Is ‘Indoctrinating Children’ Into Homosexuality.
  • Eric Kleefeld @ TPM: Michele Bachmann Money-Bomb Fizzles.
  • Alex Seitz-Wald @ Think Progress: Invoking Hitler, Allen West Accuses Obama Of ‘Conscious, Nefarious, And Malicious Intent’ To Destroy Israel.

Constitutional Historian Rebuts David Barton On The Daily Show

University of Pennsylvania historian Richard Beeman was yesterday’s guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart following an appearance by pseudo-historian David Barton. Beeman, like other real historians, notes that Barton greatly embellishes the religious views of the Founding Fathers and misrepresented the Constitution.

“The Constitution is federally devoid of any mention of religion except for one provision which says there shall be no test for public office or any position of public trust, so the only mention of religion is keep religion out of our government,” Beeman says, and “the debate in the [constitutional] Convention is virtually devoid” of religious references. Barton, on the other hand, made this pathetic case that the Constitution incorporates the Bible.

Right Wing Watch looked into Barton’s many fabrications, falsehoods, obfuscations, revisionist history, as well as his total neglect of the Fourteenth Amendment’s incorporation of the First Amendment to the states and his warped view of constitutional jurisprudence while he was on The Daily Show.

During part II of the interview with Beeman, Stewart noted that while Barton told him that he was OK with Sharia law in the US, he would likely make the opposite case to his conservative supporters.

In fact, that is exactly what happened, as Barton dedicated an entire radio program to denying what he plainly told Stewart about Sharia.

Such dishonest actions reflect the fact that Barton is a political activist, not a historian -- he even was paid by the Republican National Committee to mobilize church groups to support President Bush’s reelection and Republican candidates. As Kyle notes, even his documentary on African American history is brazenly partisan.

As Beeman and other credentialed historians make clear, Barton is simply distorting history for his own political purposes.

May Day on the Mall: Lifting The Curse That Obama's Election Has Brought Upon America

 
On Saturday, May 1, Religious Right leaders and public officials will gather at the steps below the Lincoln Memorial to beg God to forgive America for having elected wicked leaders like President Obama. If you can’t make it to the national mall on Saturday morning, you can watch live on God TV or via webcast thanks to the American Family Association.
 
The "May Day - A Cry to God for a Nation in Distress" event is the brainchild of Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist/conspiracy theory-promoting radio host, and member of presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s inner circle. Porter believes America is under a curse for having “made the choice of death” by electing President Obama (even though God TV warned us not to). She announced the May Day event at last fall’s How to Take Back America conference.  
 
Since then, Porter has lined up support from a significant number of Religious Right heavy-hitters like former Focus on the Family head James Dobson, who recorded an audio message recruiting pastors to get involved, and at least five members of Congress, including  Randy “Pray Against Health Care” Forbes (Virginia), Trent “Obama is an enemy of humanity” Franks (Arizona), Louie “Hate Crimes Act is a Pedophile Protection Act” Gohmert (Texas), and Steve “Know Your Enemies” King (Iowa).  
 

Texas School Board Member Cynthia Dunbar Joins May Day Prayer Rally

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter continues to move ahead with her organizing for the "May Day: a Cry to God for Our Nation in Distress" prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1:

Porter called on Christians to take part in a 40-day fast prior to the event. She said participants will give up something important to them in the days leading up to May Day.

"We just want God to know we're serious about standing in the gap for America," she said. "We are calling the remnant to come and repent. It's a two-fold plan to not only pray but to proclaim what our founders believed – that we are one nation under God."

Vision America President Dr. Rick Scarborough added, "We need to let God know we're serious about turning back to Him and fasting from something – whether it's television, dessert or food – will provide the breakthrough we desperately need as a nation."

...

Pro-family leaders across denominational boundaries have joined together for the effort including: Dr. James Dobson, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver, NRB President Dr. Frank Wright, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, Dutch Sheets, David Barton and many members of Congress.

Porter has explained that the event is designed to break the curse that our nation is under for having elected President Obama, and now she's picking up some interesting new supporters for her effort:

Porter said Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer who serves on the Texas State Board of Education, will attend and ask God for forgiveness for how the nation has removed Him from American schools.

"She is going to come to May Day and repent for how we have taught our children lies, not only in revisionist history but also evolution, how we've kicked God out of school," Porter said. "She will repent on behalf of the education system, and she's also going to welcome God back in."

Dunbar played a central role in Texas' recent rewriting of its social studies requirements in order to make them better reflect the conservative worldview and, given her views, it is no surprise that she would team up with the likes of Porter:

In 2008, Cynthia Dunbar published a book called “One Nation Under God,” in which she stated more openly than most of her colleagues have done the argument that the founding of America was an overtly Christian undertaking and laid out what she and others hope to achieve in public schools. “The underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents,” she writes. “Hence, the only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the Founding Fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview.”

Then she pushes forward: “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.” But the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by “the liberal agenda” — in order for liberals to succeed “they must first rewrite our nation’s history” and obscure the Christian intentions of the founders. Therefore, she wrote, “this battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (Her own children were either home-schooled or educated in private Christian schools.) When I asked, over dinner in a honky-tonk steakhouse down the road from the university, why someone who felt that way would choose to become an overseer of arguably the most influential public-education system in the country, she said that public schools are a battlefield for competing ideologies and that it’s important to combat the “religion” of secularism that holds sway in public education.

On a related note, Rev. Paul Blair of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ has put together this video urging people to attend the May Day event and "appeal in penitent prayer to the King of Kings for revival in our land":

Virginia Foxx's "Revisionist History"

For the last several years, we've been chronicling efforts by far-right activists like David Barton and the National Black Republican Association to claim that throughout American history it has been Republicans who have been the champions of civil rights while Democrats were the party of racists and it seems that this idea has now worked its way into the House of Representatives thanks to Rep. Virginia Foxx:

During a debate on the House floor today over designating 21 miles of the Molalla River as “wild and scenic,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who opposes the legislation, tried to claim a progressive environmental record for her party. “Actually, the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country,” said Foxx.

Foxx then extended her claims of the GOP’s progressive history to the issue of civil rights. “Just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ’60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle,” said Fox. “They love to engage in revisionist history.”

A few years back, Barton produced an entire video pushing this idea.  Entitled "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White," Barton's presentation chronicled the decades of oppression and discrimination against Blacks for which Barton claimed the Democrats were entirely responsible, only to suddenly stop with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, completely ignoring the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake and the rise of the Republican Party’s "Southern Strategy" as we explained in our report:

Having been so eager to recount every historical Democratic disgrace, Barton falls silent when it comes to mentioning the split that emerged within the Democratic Party in the 1960s between the growing number who embraced the civil rights movement and those who continued to oppose it. Barton does not mention that President Johnson risked his career and his party’s future to do the right thing, nor does he mention that racist and segregationist southern Democrats left the party and were welcomed by the national Republican Party as part of its “Southern Strategy” to building power. Nor, of course, does he mention a particularly shameful modern-era example of that strategy – presidential candidate Ronald Reagan launching his 1980 bid for the presidency with a visit to Philadelphia, Mississippi to declare his support for states’ rights – with no mention of the town’s notoriety as the place where civil rights workers were murdered and townspeople jeered federal investigators.

Even an amateur historian like Barton shouldn’t be able to ignore that sordid history. In fact it’s so well documented that even RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman once openly acknowledged it in the context of his efforts to recruit African Americans into the Party. Mehlman gave an apology of sorts, saying "By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out. Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Even President Bush acknowledged that whatever prestige the Republican Party once had with African Americans has been squandered, telling the NAACP on July 20, 2006 that he understands why “many African Americans distrust my political party” and that he considers it “a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties with the African American community. For too long my party wrote off the African American vote, and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party” – admissions which were met with rousing applause from the audience.

But that is nothing compared to the efforts of Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Association, who prefers flat out lying about it:

The 30-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party began in the 1970s with President Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," which was an effort on the part of Nixon to get Christians in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values and were still discriminating against their fellow Christians who happened to be black.

As we asked once before:

The obvious question raised by all of this is not why the Democrats are reluctant to discuss it, but why right-wingers who are obsessed with it never manage to explain the so-called “Southern Strategy” employed by Richard Nixon to win over traditional Southern Democrats who were angry by the party’s emerging pro-civil rights positions. As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips explained it:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Ronald Regan’s strategist Lee Atwater was even more blunt about the reasoning behind the strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

It's amazing to see this sort of right-wing propaganda being spread on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

Amazing, but sadly not surprising.

Will David Barton Be Huck’s Secretary of Education?

A few weeks ago we noted that Mike Huckabee was going to be appearing alongside right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton at an event in Iowa and wondered if a Barton endorsement would be forthcoming. That endorsement has not yet come through, but Barton might want to get on the ball because, if Huckabee ends up becoming the next president, he just might be rewarded with a top-level position in his administration. In a lengthy interview with Terence Jeffrey, Editor in Chief of the right-wing Cybercast News Service, Huckabee discussed his views on education and the two debated the role of religion in public schools, with Huckabee saying he doesn’t support state-sponsored prayer in school mainly “because I'm afraid in this kind of culture we live in you will have some namby-pamby squishy thing that doesn't even resemble a prayer.” That view then led to this exchange:
Governor, our whole system of government is based on an understanding of natural law that comes from God. The Declaration of Independence says that our rights are inalienable and we are endowed with them by our Creator. Shouldn't our public schools at least recognize that there is a God, and that our rights come from God, and that the ultimate source of our law is God? Absolutely, and that's what our Declaration of Independence said. That's what our Founding Fathers believed. And we shouldn't have a revisionist history that denies the part of our spiritual heritage. So the public schools should teach children there is a God, and our rights come from God? They should teach them that? If they teach our history, they have to teach that. But they don't have to teach them how they are going to specifically believe in that God. That's where the line comes. But the thing is, we shouldn't be afraid of giving kids the truth about our American history and heritage. We ought to make sure they know what it is. David Barton, who is one of my dear friends, and probably, I think, maybe the greatest living historian on the spiritual nature of America's early days, is a person who I wish was writing the curriculum. But unfortunately, we have a time where people just don't even acknowledge what our curriculum is.
For those who don’t know, Barton is a right-wing, Republican Party activist and self-taught “historian” intent on showing that the Founding Fathers intended to create a nation that was “firmly rooted in biblical principles” Lately, he has been peddling a book and DVD that claim to explain the history of the Democratic Party and it responsibility for everything from slavery and segregation to lynchings and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan - a history that conveniently ends with the passage of the civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s makes absolutely no mention of the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake and the rise of the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy.” Barton’s “historical” work has been discredited as rife with distortion and “laced with exaggerations, half-truths and misstatements of fact” - but Huckabee thinks he just might be one of the “greatest living historians” and wishes that he was writing public school curriculum. In fact, Barton has been involved in shaping public school curriculum through his position on the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools’ Advisory Board. The NCBCPS is dedicated to getting Bible courses taught in public high schools around the country and produces curriculum for just that purpose - curriculum that is flagrantly unconstitutional.