Thursday, February 28, 2013

David Barton's Montana Mess

John Fea tells us about it here. Warren Throckmorton, here.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

As a Throckmorton commenter pointed out, the news report makes no direct connection between David Barton's appearance and Gov. Bullock not appearing.

Y'know, the irony of Barton critics overshooting their evidence is getting a little thick.

Like here

That "mess" had little to do with Barton, who appeared at Louisiana College back in 2009. The "mess" at that college in 2013 has to do with a ton of other unrelated stuff, Barton being the most minor of complaints by the dissidents.

This is why I think David Barton is doing pretty well in surviving the attacks. [And I'm not saying he deserves to--Thomas Jefferson is the last guy I'd try to enlist for the Religious right.]

But it's getting like the OJ Simpson trial---the prosecution threw the kitchen sink at him, excellent proof and crappy arguments side-by-side. The jury wanted to acquit, so they looked at the worst arguments, found them wanting, and ignored the stronger evidence.

The "bloody glove" tack was weak and unsteady. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit!"

Why? The failure of the glove charade didn't mean OJ was innocent. But it gave the jury an out. So too with crap attacks like this on Barton. The people who hate him hate him regardless; the folks disposed to love him see him as getting railroaded.

Quite frankly, the unalloyed hostility of his critics and their own lack of rigor [as we see here] makes me a bit sympathetic to him meself. They want to get him so bad, at this point I don't believe them either.

Even in criminal court, the prosecution is bound by ethics and the rules as officers of the court to disclose any evidence that might exonerate the defendant. [And make no mistake--the "Barton controversy" is a prosecution, not a civil trial.] But I don't see his critics ever give him an inch about what he gets right.

So no, the neutral observer can't call David Barton an "historian"; he's a partisan, and an activist. But on the other hand, a little googling finds his critics with their own partisan axes to grind, or ideological fields to tend.

And this isn't to say that criticism of Barton's work is wrong--most often, when they nail him, they nail him good. but were they charitable, they'd admit the germ of truth he's starting with.

For the one thing they don't seem to have noticed is that David Barton doesn't fabricate, make stuff up out of thin air. That accusation is always false.

What he does do is...overshoot his evidence, make more out of something than is really there.

And so, we close the circle on this "mess."

In case anyone has noticed, or hasn't noticed, I restrict my criticisms of David Barton's critics to comments sections, not mainpage posts. I know much more about David Barton's work than I'd like to, much more of his critics' rebuttals than I'd like to, much more about this whole mess than I'd like to. Neither do I want to be associated with any of it. But I do have thoughts about it all, having read and compared the claims of each side.

So here we are. I wish nobody ill: I wish Mr. Barton would do more rigorous work; I wish his critics would seek to correct rather than condemn him in pursuit of the truth; and I wish they not let their own comments sections be used as soapboxes for anti-fundie, anti-Christian, or anti-religious bile.

I also want a pony for Xmas.