Friday, November 20, 2009

Babka on Barton's Debate

My co-blogger at Positive Liberty, Jim Babka, left this very apt comment:

That was originally broadcast in either 2004 or 2005. I saw it live when it happened.

Although Mr. Strobel’s show was a bit of a set-up, where his Christian guests were often better prepared than their critics (as in this piece), that wasn’t always the case and some incredible discussions happened. It usually appeared that Strobel gave both sides their say, but unfortunately, there were the “hard cut edits” (which you can see in this piece) that cause you to pause and wonder.

It was unlike anything else on TV, and I was sad it didn’t last.

Unless you know everything that Jon knows, or close to it, you can only say that Ms. Gaylor won that debate because you agree with her. She was not anywhere near as well-prepared, and she stumbled around a lot. Even when she “exposed” Barton, she didn’t know how to capitalize.

Yes, Barton does lie. He’s talking so fast about so obscure a subject, how would one know?

Yes, he kicks the can back to his failed sources. That’s actually a very good (albeit dishonest) debate tactic, and she did nothing to pounce on it.

What bothers me is Barton’s shifting of definitions of how we’re a Christian nation. If tomorrow, 88% of Americans said that we all must smoke government supplied dope, Barton would howl, and declare that the Constitution protects his individual right, and there’d be no way that 88% approval of the policy would make us a stoner nation in his mind. That’s B.S. on stilts.

And as Jon consistently points out, Barton says “Christian” and his audience hears a whole set of conservative, Evangelical, and probably even fundamentalist doctrines. 88% of Americans are NOT fundamentalist or evangelical (combined).

Ms. Gaylor never explained the significance of the shilling for the GOP, even when Strobel gave her a chance.

One tactic that he used in 2004 while working for the GOP was to lie about Christian voter turnout — dramatically inflating the number of Christian voters who didn’t turn out in 2000. Talk about a fake quote — that one was re-used regularly during 2008. And it ALWAYS traced back to Barton.

Finally, the main problem with shows like this that they want an exciting fight more than they want a rational discussion. Ms. Gaylor was the wrong person to make the point that Jon did in the piece above, “Sunday excepted clause. A nominal indirect reference to Christianity. Which again hits at the truth: The US Constitution is secular and godless, but not in the way the French Revolution was, but in a softer way and one that more accommodates religious customs.” It’s because of that balance — that fundamental fairness — that I’ve had Jon Rowe as a guest on the radio on more than one occasion.

28 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah, yet another look back to the Glory Days, digging up videos from 2004 or 2005, when Bush and the fundies were going to turn America into a theocracy.

Oh, and David Barton, amateur historian/professional advocate, to do a victory dance over, as tough as wrestling a one-legged midget.

Jonathan Rowe said...

But Tom,

David Barton has an awful lot of fans who don't think he's such an easy strawman to knock down.

Tom Van Dyke said...

If you need to troll the internet for a 5-year old video of some lightweight you can beat, have your fun.

But if this were about a concern for truth, you'd be obliged to acknowledge the many things he gets right, and not just plop up a video along with a gotcha or two.

Or take on serious scholars who are in general agreement with him like Daniel Dreisbach or Philip Hamburger, who aren't such easy pickin's. [Barton is an amateur, for those who came in late.]

But we seem to need a Barton outbreak every few months, so I hope these two posts will fill that much-needed void.

;-)

Jonathan Rowe said...

Actually Tom, I had no idea that the video was 4-5 yrs old when I first linked to it. It appears to be in digital hi-def., so I thought it was newer than that.

What's notable about this video -- why I linked to it -- is that it's the ONLY instance of which I am aware where Barton actually debates someone.

As I noted up front, Barton is known for NOT debating his critics.

And I don't blame him; he's making a mint off of his lectures to evangelical churches. And he's wisely invested a lot of his $$ in buying the originals to many historical documents.

jimmiraybob said...

...as tough as wrestling a one-legged midget.

Underestimate the appendage challenged little person at your own expense.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, I hit Barton's website now and then after one of these semi-monthly attacks on him, but don't see too much there to start a spitstorm over. I've used the search function there for "Christian Nation," but there's only a few minor hits.

He does continue to miss that John Adams was being sarcastic about the Holy Ghost running the world or the government or whatever, but there's a lot of people with no appreciation for humor these days.

Yes, he doesn't debate his critics and is making a ton of money off his lies, it's true. Just like Al Gore and his "the interior of the earth has a temperature of several million degrees."

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/11/18/al-gore-earths-interior-extremely-hot-several-million-degrees

Present company excepted, most of the people who get upset about David Barton have nothing to say about Al Gore. I'd have posted a link to the Associated Press, but there doesn't seem to be one. Their factcheckers are all busy on Sarah Palin's book, I guess.

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/11/ap-reports-on-11-person-fact-check-of-going-rogue-are-inaccurate.php

Well, some of us think that's funny.

jimmiraybob said...

...to acknowledge the many things he gets right...

By helping Barton weed out the bad his challengers are expanding the space for his good arguments. This is the kind of peer review process that helps produce a better product. If you want a better product.

Pinky said...

.
I am currecntly reading Barry Alan Sahin's "The Natrure of Rights at the American Founding and Beyond".
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It includes essays from these contributors:Akhil Reed Amar, Yale University * James H. Hutson, Library of Congress * Stephen Macedo, Princeton University * Richard Primus, University of Michigan * Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University * John Phillip Reid, New York University * Daniel T. Rodgers, Princeton University * A. Gregg Roeber, Pennsylvania State University * Barry Alan Shain, Colgate University * Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania * Leif Wenar, University of Sheffield * Gordon S. Wood, Brown University
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I've only maneuvered about two thirds of it so far. The essays sure put a great deal of light on what's going on here.
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Barton is a propagandist who has gotten way in over his head. Yet, he does good service to help us search out the truth of which he is no friend.
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You owe it to yourself to own a copy of this book.
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Pinky said...

Whoopsd! My error.

That's Barry Alan Shain.

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Sorry.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Barton is a propagandist who has gotten way in over his head. Yet, he does good service to help us search out the truth of which he is no friend.

Heh heh.

Quote of the year so far, Phil. But I don't think he's an enemy of the truth as much as he's unconcerned with the truth. Sophists don't lie so much as they only care about winning.

Pinky said...

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And that's where we come to understand opinion, Tom.
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Anyone as popularly accepted as Barton and who plays fast and loose with the truth is an enemy of truth.
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He takes the truth and twists it to mean what it never will. He doesn't have to do that; but, his targeted market is easily influenced by what they want to hear. That is shameful.
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His lies are particularly despicable as he could be honest with the truth; but, it wouldn't get the same effect as his purposeful twisting gets. That doesn't take a lot of thinking to figure out.
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His lies set up sides amongst the uninformed that divide audiences. It's an old, old trick. He should be ashamed of himself.
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And, if he lives long enough, someday he will be ashamed of what he has done. Passing himself off as an honest man. What a charade!!
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Does all that apply to Al Gore too, Pinky?

Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pinky said...

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I distinctly said, anyone.
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Do you think my mind is closed?
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Even so, there is a great deal of difference between Al Gore and David Barton.
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Barton is playing on the religious beliefs of millions of Americans and Al Gore only debates social issues. Barton plays a much more crucial role than Gore.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Barton plays a much more crucial role than Gore.

If you say so. I don't see Barton in every school in the country like An Inconvenient Truth is. Neither do I see the fundies making much headway in turning the US into a theocracy.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah, how life is funny sometimes.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/11/024995.php

I expect the same outrage that Barton gets any minute now...

;-)

Pinky said...

Tom!
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I'm sure you know that there is a world of difference between religion and politics and in how they impact people.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Make your case how Barton is ruining America. Facts, please.

Pinky said...

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What? Make a case?
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How's that?
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It's all a matter of opinion whichever way you go.
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Why argue over opinion?
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What I think is good someone else might see as bad.
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I've said what I believe. Maybe you believe differently?
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Go for it.
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Pinky said...

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I don't know who said Barton is ruinging America.
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What I said had to do with his being in over his head and that he would be exposed for what he is--no friend of the truth.
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It's inevitable that his peers will expose him.
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And the pathetic thing is that he starts out with truth and that would be good enough by itself.
But, he puts an unnecessary spin on it to satisfy the desires of those he wants to lead which shows him up as a liar. Poor leadership trait.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't claim to be a mindreader. I hear all this stuff against him and all I see are minor errors. I dunno if they come from him being dishonest or just dumb. God bless Chris Rodda for her work on the Kaskaskia Indian controversy, but its importance one way or the other doesn't even move the meter.

You seem to be letting Al Gore off the hook here, as apparently is our readership. Where is the outrage? In fact, I left a tickle previously about Gore thumping the Bible over our duty to confront climate change. Crickets chirping on that one, too.

Not a big deal to me, but I am amused.

One thing I'd be interested in is if anybody wants to take on Barton's wallbuilders.com website, where it's all there in black and white. This video thing, from him speaking to churches or from some religious cable channel, doesn't move the meter either.

Gore's movie is in all our schools, and his latest was on Conan O'Brien. Barton gets Hamilton wrong on some video? Christ, man, our population barely knows who Hamilton is, let alone Barton. I'm just not feeling this.

Pinky said...

I know it's not much; but, if I could get a little feedback I might come up with something better and possibly suited for this blog site.
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http://americansociety-today.blogspot.com/2009/11/natural-civil-rights-at-founding.html

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

Selective outrage is something we are all guilty of. It's the main reason that works me up over religious conservative objections to hate crimes laws. I tend to agree with the most honest of them, that, in principle, hate crimes laws are a bad idea. But what I see coming from them is how horrible it is to have a hate crimes statute that includes "sexual orientation," ignoring the fact that most of the hate crimes statutes that already exist do not include sexual orientation and that they tend not to get worked up over them.

Indeed, the most ignorant of religious conservatives think hate crimes statutes ONLY include sexual orientation based on what they've been taught.

The end result is it appears, from their POV, just fine to have a hate crimes statute that protects race, gender, religion etc.; but add sexual orientation to the list and that's when the thought crime tyranny begins.

In reality, if there is "thought crime tyranny" to hate crimes laws, it began at the very start, when the first hate crimes statute was passed that included race, religion, whatever, but not sexual orientation.

bpabbott said...

When drawing lines, I do my best to divide between the constructive and destructive.

My perspective is that Barton is an activist who relies upon desception, mirepresentation, and lies ... for me that is destructive.

I realize that on this blog "lies" is polically incorrect, but I'm not accusing Barton of knowingly lying ... only of propogating lies.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Ben, Barton tells some truths, even if he is evil, even if only by accident.

Like Al Gore. That Gore is either stupid or dishonest doesn't mean there isn't global warming or climate change or whatever we're calling it this week.

So, my core point would be that we should not commit the "genetic fallacy"---that just because some idiot or liar advances Thesis X, that doesn't mean it's false.

And when it comes to David Barton, I think that's the exact subtext of the attacks on him. He's a minor figure at best. Liars for Jesus? If Barton's a liar, then they're all liars, is the sub rosa claim.

I'm just so sick of the sophistry, Ben. None of it is friends with the truth, whatever that may be.

King of Ireland said...

"Barton is playing on the religious beliefs of millions of Americans and Al Gore only debates social issues. Barton plays a much more crucial role than Gore."

Al Gore has 7 Concerts from 7 COntinents broadcast all over teh world for "one cause" and thousands and thousands attended and watched. I was a missionary at the time and the Barton type crowd had their big "Call" event the same weekend.

I left that same week when no one I worked with realized that AL Gore was kicking our ass. Barton speaks to a small bubble of ingrown people. All of which are indoctrinated from childhood to believe him.

Al Gore trumps this warming thing because the Science is in 30 years after a Newsweek article saying the Science was in that the earth was warming. Anyone who disagreed then was an idiot. It is the same now. I think it is all a land grab personally.

Pinky said...

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The difference between Gore and Barton, KOI, is that one represents his personal understandings of the current scientific knowledge while the other claims to represent the eternal truth of God. It makes no never mind whether either is correct or not. What matters is how either is received by his audience and, further, what effect that has on our culture.
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King of Ireland said...

Al gore uses the bible too