At Crosswalk and Huffington Post, I posted articles this week with comments from Randy Adams, outreach minister with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (Southern Baptist). Adams has outreach responsibilities with Native Americans in OK and has commented before on Bryan Fischer’s views of native people. He reacted similarly to Barton’s statements about the destruction of Indian tribes as being a part of a just war theory.
About Barton’s claims, Adams said, “using just war theory to support the general subjugation of Native people seems outrageous based upon the fact that Europeans were occupying a land already occupied, at least in part, and that by a people of vastly different culture and religion.” Furthermore, Adams considers Barton’s account to be harmful, adding, “Does it help Native Americans feel better about things? No. Does it help other Americans feel justified in some way? No. This kind of generalization is careless and too easy to disprove, in part if not in whole, to be of any good.”
This week, I have spoken to other native Americans who did not want to comment on the record, but believe Barton’s comments are outrageous. One minister with an outreach to native peoples told me such views are a barrier to his work. This is an instance where one’s approach to history matters in the here and now.
David Barton spoke at the Kansas Governor’s Prayer Breakfast today and among other things again said that the Constitution directly quotes the Bible. And if you don’t see it, you wouldn’t know a Bible verse if it bit you. So reports Phil Anderson of the Topeka C-J.
Anderson then provides quotes from me about the misleading statements Barton frequently makes at such meetings. He says some historians disagree with Barton about direct quotes from the Bible. I think it would be more accurate to say most if not all historians disagree with Barton on that point. Are there any actual historians who believe this?
In any case, I was very glad to see some balance in the article.
Recently, a delegation from the Kennedy Center visited Uganda and spoke with various politicians, including mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati. In this NTV clip, Bahati sounds resolved to continue with his crusade.
Parliament is currently on recess, subject to the Speaker’s recall.
Bahati continues to frame his bill as a child protection measure despite the fact that existing laws already cover offenses against minors. Moreover, every gay organization in Uganda supports penalties for child molestation.
After David Barton’s astounding defense of the destruction of Indian tribes and their means of supporting themselves, I started reading more about King Philip’s War. Barton said the Indians declared war to defend torture in particular and their culture more generally. This is inadequate as an explanation. In addition to any concerns about culture, there was the more important matter of English encroachment on Indian lands. Philip (Metacomet, son of Massasoit) had appreciation for elements of English culture, having taken an English name and even buying English clothing. However, the English inflamed the Indians by disarming them and disregarding their property rights. After the trial and execution of three of Philip’s tribe by the English — which he believed was unjust — Philip engaged in his first attack on an English village.
Regarding torture, it is arrogant to suggest the English only used it as a response to the Indians, at least according to George William Ellis and John Emery Morris in their book about King Philip’s War, written in 1906. Ellis and Morris wrote:
In connection with the captivity of Mrs. Rowlandson, it may be said that one party was as forward in the exercise of cruelty as the other. The torture of Englishmen by the Indians was the exception rather than the rule. The women and children were not tortured and were generally spared if the pursuit pressed not too fast upon their captor’s heels. The Indian conqueror never lowered himself to the level of the European soldiery of the time in the sack of captured towns and villages with their carnival of rape and murder. In all the chronicles of the time, the reader finds no recorded instance of outrage upon a woman captive or the useless torture of children.
“And such was the goodness of God to those poor captive women and children that several found so much favor in the sight of their enemies that they were offered no wrong to any of their persons save what they could not help, being in many wants themselves, neither did they offer any uncivil carriage to any of the females or any attempt the chastity of any of them, either being restricted of God as was Abimeleck of old or by some other external cause which withheld them from doing any wrong of that kind.” (A quote from Hubbard).
The settlers slew without discrimination as to age or sex and inflicted torture with a stern self-righteousness. The former generation had set an example in the destruction of the women and children in the Pequot fort, the present followed it closely, the next was to burn the Salem witches. The temper of the age and their belief that they were the people of the new Israel, their foes the old Canaanites and Philistines with new faces hardened them to mercy. In the books of the Old Testament, they sought and found precedents and divine commands in plenty that spoke with the same authority and inspiration for the guidance of their Israel of the new dispensation as to the fate to be meted out to hostile people as it had for the old. Hence arose more than one instance of bad faith. Hence, men women and children were slaughtered or sold into slavery in the West Indies. Rhode Island alone, to her credit, prohibiting the practice by statute.
Ellis and Morris referred to the destruction of “Pequot fort.” This took place in 1637 and involved the massacre of older men, women and children of the Pequot tribe during the Pequot War. As Ellis and Morris noted, the English believed they had the right to clear the land of the natives because they believed God had given them the land. All that to say that it is hard to tell who was civilized and who wasn’t when one really looks at the history.
I am not saying that I would have done anything differently if I was an English settler. I hope I would have but the lessons of my discipline (e.g., Stanford Prison Experiment, Milgram studies) tell me that the power of the situation can corrupt good morals. What I am saying is that even if I had engaged in atrocities as a resident of that time and place, I would have been wrong. To me, it is misguided arrogance and pride to defend such behavior and it is moral cowardice to refuse to call it evil.
Yesterday, on Wallbuilders Live, David Barton addressed just war theory and conduct toward nations who don’t follow conventions of war. In doing so, he said:
What happened was the Indian leaders said “they’re trying to change our culture” and so they declared war on all the white guys and went after the white guys and that was King Philip’s War. It was really trying to be civilized on one side and end torture and the Indians were threatened by the ending of torture and so we had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said “oh, got the point, you’re doing to us what we’re doing to them, okay, we’ll sign a treaty.”
King’s Philip’s War was about much more than Barton describes (e.g., one reason involved English encroachment on Indian lands in violation of prior agreements) and the English did their share of torturing as well. In fact, they burned entire villages to the ground and often went beyond the behavior of the Indians. Barton’s narrative is woefully inaccurate.
I wonder how this justification of American atrocities will sit with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Barton is slated to speak at the Kansas prayer breakfast next week (March 27). Brownback was one of the champions of the Native American Apology Resolution that passed through Congress and was signed by President Obama. According to Barton, no such apology is needed; the colonists were justified in destroying Indian tribes “all over.”
(Hat tip to RWW where you can also hear relevant portions of the audio)
UPDATE: Indian Country Today has a feature on Barton’s ideas about wiping out the Indians.
More on King Philip’s War.