“Who is David Barton?” CNN’s Dan Gilgoff asks.
And then Gilgoff refuses to answer his own question.
Instead, Gilgoff retreats into a wretched, flaccid display of false-equivalence, view-from-nowhere, opinions-on-the-shape-of-earth-differ non-journalism.
“Barton’s work has drawn many critics,” Gilgoff writes, in lieu of actual journalism.
That’s a remarkable sentence. It’s like saying, “Bernie Madoff’s investment skills have drawn many critics.” Or, “Ty Cobb’s sportsmanship has drawn many critics.” Or, “Leroy Jenkins’ teamwork has drawn many critics.”
Who is David Barton? David Barton is a man who says things that are not true.
David Barton makes stuff up. He surgically alters quotations deliberately in order to deceive others.
David Barton says things that are not true. He is not merely “controversial.” He is not merely “a lightning rod for critics.” His many, many false assertions are not merely “disputed” or “questioned” or “challenged.”
David Barton says things that are not true. After being repeatedly, publicly corrected, he repeats those very same untrue statements. This is what he does. This is how he makes his living.
David Barton has not attracted “critics.” David Barton says things that are not true, and those Gilgoff mislabels as his “critics” are simply those many, many people who have pointed out the many, many untrue things that David Barton has said. His false statements are obvious. His false statements are extravagant. His false statements are hard to miss.
David Barton says things that are not true. That is the primary, pre-eminent, pervasive fact about David Barton.
To say anything else about David Barton without also saying that is to be inaccurate, misleading and dishonest.
This spring Barton is publishing The Jefferson Lies, which most historians would title Barton’s Lies about Jefferson. Astonishingly, he twists a slight reference to Jefferson’s book on Jesus and turns it into a tract which, Barton says, Jefferson would use in order to convert the Indians to Christianity. Reviewer Craig Ferhman in the Los Angeles Times found all that Barton found to be “outrageous fabrication.” On TV, Barton even said, with no evidence, that Jefferson gave a copy of his Jesus book to a missionary, to use “as you evangelize the Indians.” Had the Indians been converted with that text, their heirs would have had no place to go but to what became the humanist wing of the Unitarian-Universalist church.
Why does any of this matter? One, basic honesty is at issue; do American religionists need to invent such stories in order to prevail? Two, what if they did prevail? Most of the founders thought that religion was most honest and compelling when its leaders and gatherings did not depend upon lies about the state and, of course, upon the state itself.
- Kyle Mantyla: “David Barton, Jon Stewart, and the Myth of Raymond Raines“
- John Fea: “Some Thoughts on David Barton’s Appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart“
- Chris Rodda: “The Remarkable Hypocrisy of David Barton (Part 1)“
- Hillary Busis: “Jon Stewart goes toe-to-toe with evangelical activist David Barton“