Here’s an amusing interview with David Barton where he admits that he’s not a historian — but only because nobody is a historian.
Barton: I really kind of do a whole lot of all of it, but I don’t consider myself a historian because I’m not sure there is such a thing … So I really don’t call myself a historian. I probably know more about history than most folks. I’ve probably read more history books than most folks, I’ve read thousands and literally tens of thousands. But I don’t consider myself a historian; I just happen to know some things about it.
I don’t think anybody can ever be an expert, per se, because in the case of history we have millions of documents at the Library of Congress, at the National Archives. If I’ve read a million of them, let’s say, that’s still only one percent of the knowledge that’s out there. How can I be an expert with one percent knowledge? I may know more than some other people in this area, but I can’t really consider myself a historian or an expert because there is too much left too learn, there is too much still to come to and in that sense I don’t look at myself as a historian.
His exhaustive research has rendered him an expert in historical and constitutional issues and he serves as a consultant to state and federal legislators, has participated in several cases at the Supreme Court, was involved in the development of the History/Social Studies standards for states such as Texas and California, and has helped produce history textbooks now used in schools across the nation.
A national news organization has described him as “America’s historian,” and Time Magazine called him “a hero to millions – including some powerful politicians. In fact, Time Magazine named him as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals.
His argument for why no one can really be a historian is ridiculous. Like any other academic discipline, historians specialize. No one can be an expert in every aspect of history, they specialize in particular places and periods of time. That doesn’t mean they aren’t historians. But Barton is not a historian by any definition of the word, he is a professional con man.