This is sort of pissing me off. OK, so Bill O’Reilly’s new book about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln contains a bunch of historical inaccuracies, and the National Parks Service has banned its sale in the Ford’s Theatre bookstore.
O’Reilly’s book does contain a lot of inaccuracies that are clearly due to poor scholarship and shoddy research — like being off a year on the date Ford’s Theatre burnt down, getting it wrong on what the theater was called at the time, being a few feet off on the exact distance between things inside the theater, and calling the president’s office in the White House the Oval Office when the Oval Office did not yet exist at the time of Lincoln.
Obviously, the decision not to sell a book that’s historically inaccurate at the Ford’s Theatre bookstore isn’t what’s pissing me off. It’s the attention being given to this story. Why is this headline news while the continual, deliberate, and dangerous historical revisionism coming from Christian nationalists like David Barton rarely even registers a blip on the radar screen.
Barton’s historical revisionism is actually influencing education, legislation, and voters, making it far more important to pay attention to than O’Reilly’s Lincoln book. But Barton’s deliberate revisionism and its very real and tangible effects in furthering the far right, theocratic, Christian nationalist agenda doesn’t get a fraction of the attention that Bill O’Reilly’s inconsequential vocabulary errors like saying someone “furls his brow” rather than “furrows his brow” are getting. There’s something very wrong with this.