May 28 2012

Southern Poverty Law Center Names David Barton as a Radical to Watch

Half the problem with fighting David Barton has always been that people just don’t recognize how dangerous he really is. Some think he’s just some typical nutty fundamentalist down in Texas, not realizing that his reach goes far beyond Texas. Others have just recently heard about him because of his new best selling book and appearance on The Daily Show. And still others have just never even heard of him at all.

But the Southern Poverty Law Center has now recognized the danger of Barton, including him on their list of “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right.”

The SPLC’s profile of Barton hits the nail on the head when it says: “The scary thing about David Barton is that he has the ear of so many.” This is what most people don’t realize – Barton has the ear of numerous politicians, and not just the few listed in the SPLC’s profile. I wish they had included some of the others, like Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), whose Congressional Prayer Caucus now includes about a quarter of our House of Representatives.


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  1. 1
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Thanks for the link. I wasn’t aware of many of the individuals on the SPLC’s list of radicals.
    I feel the need to scrub my brain after reading all their bios.

  2. 2
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Interesting list thanks.

    Sounds like at least one of those listed – the unspeakably horrid Klansman creep David Duke is far from “new” and has, in fact, now pretty much retired from political activism – see from his bio there :

    In 2009, it was reported that Duke was living in Salzburg, Austria, on Lake Zeller. From there, he runs an Internet business taking and selling photographs of rare birds and other wildlife. Duke wrote of his new home, “I’m not in Austria for any political activities. I just come to Austria to relax – the mountains are beautiful. The Austrian Alps are just beautiful. There’s beauty all over the world.”

    Whilst another – Malik Zulu Shabazz, leader of the Black Supremacist New Black Panthers group is arguably more Left wing than Right wing politically but still, interesting in a horrible, “Ohyegods!” kind of way.

    As for David Barton, I must admit I hadn’t heard of him at all until I started reading your blog which is about the only place I can recall seeing his name mentioned. (Thanks for letting this far-away Aussie know about him btw. Great blog.) Maybe on some other FTB blogs too?

    Yeah, Barton is certainly an unpleasant lying sack of filth and I shudder to think what he’d do if he ever gains any real power but notice the people he’s advised :

    The scary thing about David Barton is that he has the ear of so many. He is a former .. [snip] .. adviser at various times to Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee. Last year, Huckabee said he wished all Americans could be “forced — forced at gunpoint no less — to listen to every David Barton message.” Former Fox News conspiracy-monger Glenn Beck uses Barton to teach history at Beck’s “university.”

    Emphasis added – ed.

    Now what do Bachmann, Gingrich & Huckabee have in common? All Republican party losers who couldn’t even get their own side of politics to nominate them for election.

    (I don’t know anything about Sam Brownback. Which may say something about his abilities in US politics in itself.)

    Is Barton then a Machiavelli figure whose able to manipulate his way into real power and influence? Doesn’t look like it to me. A nasty character who’d *like* to be able to do that, sure – but he hasn’t been able to pick or make any winners yet in a long time trying.

    Hopefully he never will.

  3. 3
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Chris- Speaking of Randy Forbes, did he ever reply to your acceptance of his challenge to debate anyone about the historical bs in all of his Christian Nation resolutions? I remember you mentioning that in an interview on an episode of Reasonal Doubts sometime ago.

  4. 4
    Chris Rodda

    @ StevoR … what you said about the particular politicians named in the SPLC profile being people who have no influence is exactly why I said in my post that I wish they had included some of the others, like Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), whose Congressional Prayer Caucus now includes about a quarter of our House of Representatives. One of the problems when people describe Barton is that they always point out the politicians he’s associated with who are familiar names, like Gingrich and Bachmann and Huckabee, even though these are the ones who, as you said, are all losers. They don’t mention the people who aren’t losers and are currently in office – like all the wingnuts in Randy Forbes’s Prayer Caucus that make up a quarter of our House of Representatives right now.

  5. 5
    Chris Rodda

    @ Jeremy Shaffer … No, I never got a response from Forbes. Big surprise.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Okay, yeah, that’s much less reassuring. Thanks I guess.

  7. 7

    I was raised in a household where truth was the paramount virtue. I suspect it’s my upbringing that makes smoke come out of my ears at people who make it their business to Lie For Jesus. Though I’m an atheist now, I retain enough respect for the positive aspects of my Christian upbringing that these kinds of lies really, really crank me up.

  8. 8


    The fact that Gingrich, Huckabee and Bachmann didn’t end up winning the nomination is kind of beside the point. The fact is that Barton has had the ear of multiple Republican presidential candidates and may gain the ear of future candidates.

    Plus he has the ear of Brownback, plus Beck, who had a good crack at mainstreaming Barton’s lies while he had his daily show on Fox, and is presumably still doing so now on the radio. And Huckabee is still on Fox, isn’t he?

    Also, as Chris pointed out above, Barton has the ear of other influential people who aren’t on the SPLC list.

    And it’s not just about the effect he has had so far; it’s about the effect that he could have in the future. Which could be greater.

  9. 9

    The SPLC sends me their Intelligence Reports and I read that article. I’ve also been aware of David Barton for about a month now.

    I just posted a review of his book, Original Intent, on Amazon and want to share it with you:

    David Barton—Unethical Intent

    I began to read this book and found that virtually every sentence this man writes is a distortion of the truth; from the intent of the Founders to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions. This book is nothing but pure fiction and propaganda. Read the first paragraph of the first chapter as an example.

    Page 13—Chapter 1, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1:
    David Barton alleges the following: “ In recent years, clashes over religious expressions have been among the most frequent controversies decided by federal courts, with the U. S. Supreme Court having issued numerous rulings on the subject (a previously unprecedented practice in American history).” Well, this is simply not true! Go to Wikipedia and look up Supreme Court decisions by year; also look up Supreme Court decisions by subject—religion.

    Page 13—Chapter 1, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2:
    I find it ironic in the extreme that David Barton seems to glorify the Founding Fathers and professes to write about what they “really” meant about religion, while at the same time he scathingly writes the following: “Consequently, a body of nine unelected Justices now exercises more control over how, when, where, or if public religious activities will occur than any other entity in America.”

    These very same Founders, Mr. Barton, wrote Article III (the Judicial Branch) of the Constitution: “Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.” (BTW, “good Behavior” means doing their job responsibly, not taking bribes, not being treasonous, etc. It does not mean deciding cases that everyone will like or agree with.)

    And, in Article II (the Executive Branch), Section 2. [2], the pertinent part reads: “He (meaning the president) shall have Power . . . and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint . . . Judges of the supreme Court….”

    The Founding Fathers specifically wanted “unelected” judges. If you read the State debates regarding ratification of the Constitution, they too wanted an unelected Court, free from the winds of political change and political machinations. What does David Barton want to do? Impeach the Justices he disagrees with. [See his book on that subject here on Amazon.]

    Page 13—Chapter 1, Paragraph 1, Sentence 3: “In fact, one Justice describes the Court as ‘a national theology board.’” This is perhaps the most egregious sentence. The quote is from a separate opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part, written by Justice Kennedy, in Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburg UCLA, 492 U.S. 573 (1989). You can find the entire opinion on FindLaw.

    This is exactly what Justice Kennedy wrote, before and after the Barton quote, but not the entire opinion.

    “I take it as settled law that, whatever standard the Court applies to Establishment Clause claims, it must at least suggest results consistent with our precedents and the historical practices that, by tradition, have informed our First Amendment jurisprudence.

    It is true that, for reasons quite unrelated to the First Amendment, displays commemorating religious holidays were not commonplace in 1791. See generally J. Barnett, The American Christmas: A Study in National Culture 2-11 (1954). [MY NOTE: On the very first page, in his Foreword, David Barton yammers on about historians citing other historians, speaking about the Founders rather than citing the Founders’ own words. He calls this “hearsay,” a rule of evidence that would not stand up in court. Sigh! It is common to cite previous works, as Justice Kennedy did in the above sentence; the hearsay evidence rule has many exceptions and would not in any event be applicable to a bibliography.] But the relevance of history is not confined to the inquiry into whether the challenged practice itself is a part of our accepted traditions dating back to the Founding.

    A further contradiction arises from the majority’s approach, for the Court also assumes the difficult and inappropriate task of saying what every religious symbol means. Before studying these cases, I had not known the full history of the menorah, and I suspect the same was true of my colleagues. More important, this history was, and is, likely unknown to the vast majority of people of all faiths who saw the symbol displayed in Pittsburgh. Even if the majority is quite right about the history of the menorah, it hardly follows that this same history informed the observers’ view of the symbol and the reason for its presence. This Court is ill equipped to sit as “a national theology board,” [Barton’s quote] and I question both the wisdom and the constitutionality of its doing so.” Indeed, were I required to choose between the approach taken by the majority and a strict separationist view, I would have to respect the consistency of the latter.”

    Read Justice Kennedy’s last sentence again. Justice Kennedy does not agree with the majority opinion’s reasoning. He states that rather than applying the majority’s reasoning in this case, he would choose the “strict separationist view,” meaning the straightforward reasoning [which is precedent] of there being a wall of separation between church and state. David Barton has used Justice Kennedy’s words to completely reverse the meaning of what Justice Kennedy meant.

    This is a very long review and I’ve only addressed the first paragraph. Although Barton states that he wants the reader to look up the quotes and other references, he knows most people won’t because it takes a lot of time to look these things up; to read the Supreme Court opinions and other works. The really frightening thing about this book is it is very well written and persuasive, despite being a work of complete lies. David Barton is very cunning.

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