David Barton is what I call a “faux historian.” With only a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, Barton has written widely on American history, remaking it into his own image. He’s been called upon as an “expert” by the Texas Board of Education, the Republican Party and the likes of right-wing talking head Glenn Beck.
Many conservatives love Barton’s historical revisionism, particularly his arguments that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the founders did not share our notions about the separation between church and state. Mike Huckabee said he wished every American had to listen to a simultaneous telecast of David Barton lecturing—even if at gunpoint.
Barton’s latest book, The Jefferson Lies, has drawn criticism from a wider group than the usual liberals and professional historians.
Jamelle Bouie recently lamented that liberals continually fall into the trap of focusing on crafting good policy arguments, while what wins debates (and even elections) are appeals to ideals and principles.
It has been a rough year for the state of Wisconsin. A painful and divisive recall election of governor Scott Walker tore the state apart in the spring. Then last week a lone gunman killed seven people, including himself, and wounded three others at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee.