David Barton Justifies Civilizing Indians By Destroying Them

Yesterday, on Wallbuilders Live, David Barton addressed just war theory and conduct toward nations who don’t follow conventions of war. In doing so, he said:

What happened was the Indian leaders said “they’re trying to change our culture” and so they declared war on all the white guys and went after the white guys and that was King Philip’s War.  It was really trying to be civilized on one side and end torture and the Indians were threatened by the ending of torture and so we had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said “oh, got the point, you’re doing to us what we’re doing to them, okay, we’ll sign a treaty.”

King’s Philip’s War was about much more than Barton describes (e.g., one reason involved English encroachment on Indian lands in violation of prior agreements) and the English did their share of torturing as well. In fact, they burned entire villages to the ground and often went beyond the behavior of the Indians.  Barton’s narrative is woefully inaccurate.

I wonder how this justification of American atrocities will sit with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Barton is slated to speak at the Kansas prayer breakfast next week (March 27). Brownback was one of the champions of the Native American Apology Resolution that passed through Congress and was signed by President Obama.  According to Barton, no such apology is needed; the colonists were justified in destroying Indian tribes “all over.”

(Hat tip to RWW where you can also hear relevant portions of the audio)

UPDATE: Indian Country Today has a feature on Barton’s ideas about wiping out the Indians.

More on King Philip’s War.

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  • William Birch

    How in God’s holy name is Barton published or asked to speak in public venues? Seriously: I just don’t understand it — I really don’t.

  • Mary

    Nor do I.

  • Carol A Ranney

    I have read a lot of inaccuracies by Barton on here, but this one crosses my line. Unbelievable. I’m speechless. I can only second the comments above.

  • Carol A Ranney

    I also can’t understand how Barton has any credibility at all when his writing and speaking sounds like a poorly prepared seventh grader.

  • Mary

    My thoughts exactly – a poorly prepared student.

  • Boo

    How does David Barton have an audience? How do you think Rush Limbaugh has an audience or Ann Coulter sells books? There’s a very lucrative market in this country for telling angy tribalists about how They are out to Get You. Barton really isn’t anything to be shocked at in a country that boasts Glenn Beck and the Discovery Institute.

  • Mary

    I honestly think it takes time for the word to spread around. Remember many people just are not looking at investigative work – of any kind.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Does anyone here actually know spit about King Philip’s War? This looks like another one of those posts where people who read it end up more ignorant than when they started.

  • Boo

    And cue the angry tribalist…

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Nobody’s had the guts to actually risk showing their own ignorance about King Philip’s War. They just cluck tsk-tsk to each other, pretending they actually know something about it and that Barton’s obviously wrong. It’s pretty transparent.

  • Warren

    Tom – Your comments have little relevance unless you are going to offer something factual. By all means, enlighten us.

  • stephen

    Yes, I do. Metacomet was a brilliant man and a very astute politician. I also know a lot about the Plymouth colony. Not so much about the Mass Bay Colony,

  • Dale

    This is no different than what Bryan Fischer of the AFA and the prophet Cindy Jacobs have said. This is representative of Christian thinking about Native Americans. Prior generations of Christians murdered Native Americans and stole their land and the current generation of Christians justifies that murder and theft.

    Is there any religion that is more bound up with racism and genocide than Christianity?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Another sphinx-like answer, Warren. But the point being that the two sides traded massacre for massacre until one gave up.

  • Warren

    Tom – In your opinion, did the native people have a right to defend the ownership of their land?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I don’t judge history like that, Warren, and quotes culled from a left-wing attack website culling from a Wallbuilders broadcast make it impossible to know what Barton was even getting at.

    My own study of world history is that of peoples pushing each other to and fro. The Bantus pushed the pygmies out. The original “English,” the Bretons, were pushed out by the Angles into France. The Aztecs invaded the Mexico City area only a few centuries before the Spanish got there and did the same thing to them. The Native Indians constantly made war on one another.

    This sentimentality of victims and bad guys is “presentism,” the secret to bad history. There’s scarcely a piece of earth still populated by its original inhabitants.

    As for whatever Barton was getting at, and I think it was about the war on terrorism, based on the more complete quote [less incomplete] found at this advocacy website

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/david-barton-explains-just-war-theory-we-had-destroy-indian-tribes-until-they-became-civiliz

    that one’s enemy determines how dirty you yourself are forced to play is hardly earthshaking.

    “…but you play on the rules sometimes that the other guys have set up. And if they’re not going to negotiate with things like the Geneva treaty or other rules of civilization, you still have to secure the life and the property and the protection of your citizens.”

    So floating an attack on Barton [or anyone] without explaining it was the tactic in the 3 places I saw this. Much easier than actually making one’s case, and the moral calculus is far more complicated than blandly accusing Barton of endorsing genocide—which was clearly the implication.

    And FTR, somewhat along these lines, I thought poor Ward Churchill had an unnerving point about “Little Eichmanns.” It’s not just about the righties and David Barton. My objection was reducing this to demonization.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      It was a simple question and you changed the subject. Intellectualizing about it doesn’t change anything.

      I listened to the entire broadcast for myself. Perhaps you should do that too before you go off on tangents.

      I don’t understand why you bothered to enter this thread since you had already made up your mind.

  • Boo

    Tom- if your only standard is might makes right, which is in fact what you are advocating in the above post, then you have no basis for injecting right or wrong into it at all. And if you actually think “everyone else is doing it!” is a valid excuse, then your parents did something very wrong in raising you.

  • Richard Willmer

    Yes, boo, ‘tu quoque’ is no defence in law (and probably not in ‘morals’ either).

    I suspect that Barton might be victim to that ‘cowboys and indians’ mindset that presupposes that the ‘cowboys’ are the ‘goodies’ and the ‘indians’ are the ‘baddies’, and then offers an ‘interpretation’ of history based on that premise. Most of us have moved on from that … or are at least trying to do so – which is a start.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Yes, boo, ‘tu quoque’ is no defence in law

    Well, actually it is, as far as using deadly force in the face of the threat of deadly force. Since Barton explicitly speaks of war beyond the bounds of law

    …but you play on the rules sometimes that the other guys have set up. And if they’re not going to negotiate with things like the Geneva treaty or other rules of civilization…

    he’s speaking not of morality but the law of the jungle.

    As for Barton siding with the “cowboys,” probably. However, he’s stating the simple truth that had the settlers not responded with equal or more ferocity, they might well have lost the test of wills—perhaps down to the last man, woman and child.

    As for moralizing history, true, I try to resist. That’s bad history. And I look askance at people proclaiming their own moral superiority. Richard. We all like to imagine we’d have freed our slaves or fought the Confederacy or marched with Dr. King. But my view of human beings is that most of us have feet of clay and go along with the crowd.

    For example, at the moment, it takes a lot more courage to oppose gay marriage than go along with it. Semper infidelis. ;-P

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I don’t understand why you bothered to enter this thread since you had already made up your mind.

    Because I knew there must be more to the story than Barton blandly endorsing genocide, which the title of this post insinuated, Warren.

    And I believe I have now told the rest of the story.

    You realize by now that my disposition is for apologetics, not polemics, yes? I’d have even defended you–as much as possible with principle–back in your “ex-gay” days when they were dragging YOUR name through the mud. You weren’t necessarily 100% wrong back then [nor are you now].

  • Boo

    “We all like to imagine we’d have freed our slaves or fought the Confederacy or marched with Dr. King. But my view of human beings is that most of us have feet of clay and go along with the crowd.”

    Which is irrelevant to the fact that the people who did those things were in the right, and the people whowent aong with the cowd were wrong. Taking the Indians land was wrong. The fact it isn’t something that would be practical to “fix” at this point in history does not change that. The morality of a position is not determined by the courage or lack thereof of the person holding the position. To claim otherwise smacks of narcicism.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    To claim otherwise smacks of narcicism.

    No, forgiveness of human weakness. You got me all wrong, Boo. I don’t claim I’d have had the courage to free my slaves and go out and work for a living instead. I don’t claim i’d have fought to end slavery instead of buying my way out of the Civil War. I don’t claim I’d have had the guts to march with Dr. King against my family and friends who believed in “separate but equal” and segregation.

    Peter denied Christ 3 times. THERE’S your human nature. Our human nature.

    You’re not hearing me. These are the lessons of history, not judging the past from the comfort of our armchairs.

  • Teresa

    Tom Van Dyke stated:

    For example, at the moment, it takes a lot more courage to oppose gay marriage than go along with it. Semper infidelis.

    Tom, perhaps, not. It all depends on what seat you have in the house. To oppose gay marriage can simply be (and, probably is) for most, an armchair decision.

    To speak of ssm as an abstract, with no personal risk, that is not courage. To oppose ssm among confreres takes no courage. To oppose ssm at a ballot box, not much courage there, either.

    To oppose ssm in the public square, as known and not anonymous, to be willing to lay down one’s reputation for principle and yet love my enemy … because he is not my enemy … that is where true courage lies.

    To have the shoe on one’s own foot, to endure the pain of miles walking in it, and yet not remove it … that is courage … no matter the issue.

  • Boo

    Tom- are you listening to yourself? You claim I have you wrong on being narcissistic, and then everything that follows is all about you. It’s not about you Tom. It’s not about your courage or lack thereof. It’s not about your guts or your actions or your armchair psychoanalyzing of yourself. It’s about right and wrong. Before I came out there were times I would join in mocking LGBT people in front of my peers. And yes, there are all kinds of excuses and rationalizations for why I did it. And I was still wrong. Because it’s the action that is right or wrong, not the rationalizations. Once again, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    You don’t seem to get the difference between moralizing and doing history. I can easily condemn the past by the lights of the present. No prob.

  • Boo

    You seem to be trying to introduce a distinction you definitely were not using in your earlier posts. (And you still can’t quite get past the whole “It’s gotta be about ME ME ME!” thing, huh?)

  • Tom Van Dyke

    typical personal attack and shoutdown

  • Tom Van Dyke

    >>>For example, at the moment, it takes a lot more courage to oppose gay marriage than go along with it. Semper infidelis.

    Tom, perhaps, not. It all depends on what seat you have in the house. To oppose gay marriage can simply be (and, probably is) for most, an armchair decision.

    To speak of ssm as an abstract, with no personal risk, that is not courage. To oppose ssm among confreres takes no courage. To oppose ssm at a ballot box, not much courage there, either.

    To oppose ssm in the public square, as known and not anonymous, to be willing to lay down one’s reputation for principle and yet love my enemy … because he is not my enemy … that is where true courage lies.

    To have the shoe on one’s own foot, to endure the pain of miles walking in it, and yet not remove it … that is courage … no matter the issue.

    Thx for yr thoughtful reply, Teresa. I thought of you today when I saw this:

    “There’s almost a comical stampede on the part of Democrats to get on the right side of this issue,” the Huffington Post’s editorial director said. “There’s a [news] bulletin every five minutes.”

    Howard Fineman joked that Democrats should get “decreasing points” for how much longer it takes them to support same-sex marriage following Rob Portman’s (R., Ohio) recent announcement. This week alone, senators Mark Begich (D., Alaska), Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Mark Warner (D., Va.) have announced their support for same-sex marriage. Hillary Clinton voiced her support earlier this month as well.

    Video @ http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/344008/fineman-comical-stampede-democrats-suddenly-supporting-same-sex-marriage-andrew-johnso

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      I don’t want this thread to turn into a debate over SSM so back to the topic please.

  • Boo

    How on earth do you shout someone down on an internet forum, Tom? And no, pointing out your personal behavior is not a personal attack. You were the one who chose to go on and on and on about yourself.

  • TexasHIstorian

    My ancestor was among the Mayflower passengers who made the initial treaty with Massasoit. Our intentions were to be friendly and just occupy land for what we needed. How can Barton come this completely ridiculous version of the truth? Our initial intent was peaceful coexistence in 1620. By 1675 greed took over. How does Barton sleep at night knowing he is distorting history to fit his worldview? I spend two years in graduate school learning how to do history the right way and we were never to taught to first, write it from a presentist perspective and second, we were never taught to allow our religious or personal bias to influence our interpretation of the past.

    Monday, April 1, 2013 is the anniversary of the signing of this treaty in 1621. It was the first treaty between the English and a Native American tribe which would last for 50 years.

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-pilgrim-wampanoag-peace-treaty

  • Boo

    “How does Barton sleep at night knowing he is distorting history to fit his worldview?”

    Because, as he himself has stated, he’s not interested in history. He is interested in promoting his worldview. He’s actually becoming more and more upfront about this fact.

  • marguerite ciofani

    sorry but I wont waste my time retorting to tom– wow– talk about RANTS. each one is missing the point people are attempting (as logical people do)to indicate to him.

    Barton DOES seem to have the emotional, intellectual and morality of a sorely lacking fifth grader. ALL about ego– maybe he is a very inferiour feeling person who now thinks he has a “following”. on the contrary, MOST of us HAVE moved on. ANYONE with any moral fabric would realize that justifying genocide– is something only a sick individual would do. And using weak arguments mirroring the displacement theme that tom cant get beyond– is really missing the point. THE point is he is ignorant: of history, of life, of morality, of Christianity. I might guess he googled some battles and then jumped into a rant– much like tom. ON and on about nothing logical, right, moral or uplifting.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Tom

    In response to my comment regarding ‘tu quoque’, I think you may have confused that with self defence, which is most certainly a ‘defence’.

    I’m not well versed in the conflicts between settlers and native Americans, but find it very hard to believe that the treatment of those native Americans was something that could legitimately be regarded as ‘self defence’ on the part of the settlers.

    On the matter of gay marriage: well, I must admit that, here in the UK, where civil partnership are in practical terms identical* to civil marriages, I find the whole discussion really rather mystifying, and do feel that there are other matters that should be the object of our attention, at least for now. (I understand that the discussion is much more pertinent in those jurisdictions where civil partnerships/unions do not confer upon the ‘high contracting parties’ rights and responsibilities equivalent to those of civil marriage.)

    * The only difference here in the UK is with respect to the ‘status’ of the ceremony itself: civil marriage ceremonies are public ceremonies (i.e. I have the legal right to gate-crash any wedding ceremony I choose!); civil partnership ceremonies are not (i.e. I don’t have the right to gate-crash).

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Richard, we’re not allowed to talk about gay marriage in these threads.

    As for what David Barton’s talking about, his critics cannot be sure, but that doesn’t stop them from pouring on the slime.

    As for the facts about whether it was self-defense, you’ll have to look up the details of King Philip’s War. It was an exchange of ruthless massacres.

    “The horrors and devastation of Philip’s war have no parallel in our history. The Revolution was a struggle for freedom; the contest with Philip was for existence. The war lasted only about fourteen months; and yet the towns of Brookfield, Lancaster, Marlborough, Medfield, Sudbury, Groton, Deerfield, Hatfield, Hadley, Northfield, Springfield, Weymouth, Chelmsford, Andover, Scituate, Bridgewater, and several other places were wholly or partially destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were massacred or carried into captivity. During this short period, six hundred of our brave men, the flower and strength of the Colony, had fallen, and six hundred dwelling houses were consumed. Every eleventh family was houseless, and every eleventh soldier had sunk to his grave.”—Charles Hudson: A History of Marlborough

    This is not to take the colonists’ side. My own take is that like WWI, the slaughter was so senseless and great that it doesn’t even matter who was in the right.

    It’s always a pleasure discussing stuff with you, Richard. If only it were the norm.

  • Richard Willmer

    Your earlier point about human frailty, borne of that ‘selfish’ (but also instinctive) desire for self-preservation, is always one worthy of consideration. You mentioned S. Peter: well, when he knew he had goofed he had the decency to ‘burst into tears’ (Mark 14 : 72b, JB).

    Similarly, ‘moralizing history’ can be dangerous. My view is that it is Barton, and not his antagonists, who is going down that road by using ‘history’ to attempt to validate his own world view. Now, I am quite prepared to admit that I might well do the same thing (i.e. use ‘history’ to attempt to validate my world view), but try to look out for this mistake, and take ‘corrective measures’ as required. I’m not an historian, but have done scientific research, so have had to exercise the discipline of checking for confirmation bias.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Richard: All I can say is that I see his critics consistently overshooting their own evidence in their haste to discredit him. Mention Barton and it’s a torrent of Two Minutes Hate.

    I don’t like defending him, but the irony of his critics doing the same thing he does is too appalling not to note–putting words in his mouth, ascribing nasty motives, sophistically trying to take advantage of his [admitted] sloppiness in order to impugn conservatism/the GOP if not the traditional [Judeo-] Christian worldview. It’s quite transparent.

    With this latest book on Jefferson, Baton has indeed screwed the pooch, I think–not only for his overreach, but tactically because Jefferson is more valuable as an enemy of the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview, the back-stabbing hypocrite.

    As for what Barton’s worldview actually is, all I can say is that I have never seen a critic state it accurately. They prefer to scour TV interviews, webcasts, podcasts and radio shows in search of rope to hang him with.

    For all the times I’ve read his haters putting the exact words in his mouth, at least formally he has never [to my knowledge] ever asserted “America was Founded as a Christian Nation.”

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=23909

    Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

    “[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.”

    So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.”

    “No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, & had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, & with us, Christianity & Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, & did not often refer to it, & exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because fredom [sic] of conscience & respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both..”—Chief Justice John Marshall, letter to Jaspar Adams 1833

    This sort of thing is the core of Barton’s argument, and his own sloppy scholarship on some other factoids doesn’t falsify the legit ones. Caveat emptor, by all means, but so too when reading his critics.

  • Richard Willmer

    Well, I suspect Barton is his own worst enemy. Also, I’m not sure that he is really obedient to Christian principles (as we all are not from time to time), since seeking to ‘justify’ what were effectively massacres is simply not consistent with what I understand to be the core values expressed Christ’s teaching. And I suspect that many Jews would not agree with Barton’s appraisal and application of the ‘Judeo-’ aspects of Judeo-Christian principles.

    Some may indeed ‘use’ Barton’s utterances in an attempt to discredit Christianity. However there are others who oppose what he and his ilk say because they regard his behaviour as a threat to Christianity. I would count myself among those in the latter category.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Well, I suspect Barton is his own worst enemy.

    Not as long as Warren Throckmorton is alive.

    ={:-O Heh heh.

    Also, I’m not sure that he is really obedient to Christian principles

    Above [y]our pay grade, Richard. Barton’s God is more the Mighty Jehovah of the OT than Barney the Christosaur of Beatitudism. Both are OK. Maybe the HS is supposed to break all ties.

    ;-)

  • Richard Willmer

    I see your point about conflicting ideas of God, Tom. My view is that Barton is, from a Christian perspective, a heretic; “as God is in Christ, God is” would be my understanding of core Christian theology. (Obviously, I respect his right to a heretic if he chooses.) And I ‘admit’ (again) that I too do often fail to conform to Christian principles; I know my pay grade!


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