There's a word for when a person or group becomes disproportionately fixated on one individual at the expense of the wider range of interests and responsibilities to which that person or group should be committed. That word is Obsession. And it's very difficult for me not to look at the American Creation blog these days and feel that many of its writers and contributors have become obsessed with David Barton.
For the record, I don't consider David Barton to be an academic historian or a professional scholar. He is an activist. There's nothing wrong with being an activist. America was founded by activists, and our current President got his start in politics as an activist. I have nothing against activists, so it's not meant to be pejorative when I refer to Mr. Barton as an activist. It's simply an accurate description of his role in American politics. Barton is an activist who speaks about his understanding and interpretation of early American history. And I believe that the American Creation blog should make it clear that Barton is an activist and not an academic scholar. Beyond that, I think this activist has received more attention from our blog than he should.
I realize that some of you will respond with the usual litany of allegations against Barton's competence, character, etc., etc., and justify your focus on Barton as an attempt to "set the record straight" and/or protect people from being "deceived." If that were true, then I think there would be far fewer posts and articles about Mr. Barton on this blog. A few posts directed specifically at some of Barton's errors and/or major (and quite legitimate) news items related to Barton, such as when Thomas Nelson pulled his book The Jefferson Lies, would be more than sufficient. Perhaps an "Open Letter" post to Barton that lays out comprehensively all the concerns and questions would be appropriate as well. And most certainly an invitation to interview Mr. Barton would be in order. These would be more than sufficient to address the controversies surrounding Mr. Barton. Any more than that is overkill, at best, and obsession, at worst.
Yes, Barton has made some mistakes and he's said and written some things for which he should provide an explanation or retraction. I'm also not a fan of some of his associations, including Glenn Beck. The same criticisms, though, about associations, mistakes, questionable statements, etc. could be said for any number of other activists as well. And frankly it can be said for credentialed historians too. Why the disproportionate focus on Barton?
How many more "Barton stepped in this mess" and "Barton upset this person" and "Barton told this story" posts must we endure? Most of the contributors to this blog don't like Barton and don't trust Barton. I get it. We all get it. Can we move on?
There are other personalities in the study of and debate concerning early American history. There is more ground to cover. Let's cover it. Let's move on.
If not....if the contributors to this blog wish to continue to bash Barton (trotting out the latest controversy each week - some weeks, each day), then I propose we rename the blog "The Anti-David Barton Blog" or "The Barton Watchdog Blog" or "The Barton Bashing Blog." Something along those lines. At least then, we'll be more honest and up-front with our readers about the agenda and focus of many of our contributors.