Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Quixotic Task of Debunking David Barton

By Paul Harvey here. He reviews "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President," by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter. A taste:
They find without fail that the claims fall into one of the following categories: 1) complete falsehoods (there are plenty of those); 2) misleading falsehoods (such as the story about wanting Christian imagery on the national seal—true, but on the other side of the seal, had Jefferson gotten his wish, would have been a pagan story); 3) true, but entirely irrelevant and ultimately misleading statements (such as signing documents with “the Year of our Lord,” which he did because pre-packaged treaty forms had that language, and had about as much meaning as signing “Dear” in our salutations in letters to complete strangers); 4) statements with a “kernel” of truth but blown so far out of proportion as to end up being false (such as Jefferson wanting federal funding for Indian missions, when in fact the titles of the bills simply took on the name of already existing religious societies; 5) baffling assertions that are so far out of the realm of reality as to be neither “true” nor “false,” but simply bizarre (such as Barton’s defense of Jefferson’s views on race, which were disturbingly ugly even by the standards of his era).


Arctic Patriot said...

I wonder how one would explain away Jefferson's proposed bill to punish Sabbath-breakers?


jimmiraybob said...

Overall, the rebuttal isn't just about today, it's about setting a historical marker. Do we live in a society and culture that values truth over corrupted historical propaganda or not? This is not just a partisan culture-wars assessment - the answer to this question cuts across ideological lines.

I raise a glass of fine Kentucky small-batch bourbon, literally, to those fighting for historical integrity.

Oh yeah, Arctic Patriot, do you want to go first? Could be an interesting discussion.

jimmiraybob said...

And, what of the bamboozled? When Barton, a professed Christian, goes into a Christian venue he starts with a foregone bond of trust. I'm guessing that there might be more than a few in the audience that would be interested in having what I see as a deception - a false narrative that leads to an intended but questionable conclusion - exposed. Some may choose to hold fast to the conclusion given all information available because they want the narrative but some may choose to form a different conclusion, more in line with the unadulterated information.

Do they - Barton's audience(s) - deserve to be given a chance to make a truly informed choice? Isn't that the ethical thing to do? If that's quixotic then call me jimmirayquixote (not to be confused with my great great great great distant Spanish cousin donnibobquixote).