A military religious freedom watchdog group is asking Commanding General Major General Pete Johnson to uninvite Kenneth Copeland from the February 1 prayer breakfast at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Kenneth Copeland has a rather checkered history but the main reason for the outrage is Kenneth Copeland’s past teaching on how to address post-traumatic stress disorder. On that topic, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein told the General:
But there’s something else that makes Copeland an even more outrageous choice to speak to any military audience. He has claimed that PTSD isn’t real because it isn’t biblical, saying on a 2013 Veterans Day episode of his TV show:
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, and it doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there [referring to a Bible verse he had just read] will get rid of it.”
Copeland’s guest that day, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, wholeheartedly agreed, adding that warriors in the Bible fighting in the name of God were “esteemed” and in the “faith hall of fame” because they “took so many people out in battle.”
At the time, Barton and Copeland took a lot of heat over that “advice.” Before I go on, here is the segment:
I hope the General decides to find another speaker. In my opinion, Copeland disqualified himself to speak to our service men and women. In addition to his bogus advice about PTSD, he teaches that people who recite certain Bible verses will survive war. In essence, his teaching is that Christians will survive if they do the right things and recite the right magic Bible verses (Psalm 91 is one he suggests). In his PTSD video, he claims that the Bible gives a promise of survival to soldiers who fight for God. I don’t know what happens to people who don’t believe these things according to Copeland.
I can’t imagine what he will say that will be of general benefit or encouragement to people of all faiths. His teaching in his Veteran’s Day video and on his website requires a rather close adherence to his specific interpretation of the Bible. There are many Christians who reject this approach, not to mention those of other faiths and no faith. Surely, General Johnson can find someone who can bring people together and respect troops of all faith traditions.
Here is the announcement in the Fort Jackson newsletter:
National Prayer Breakfast to take place Feb. 1 at NCO Club sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast for the Fort Jackson Community 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the NCO Club. Nationally recognized televangelist Kenneth Copeland will be the speaker. Tickets are available from your unit. The event is free, but offerings will be accepted at the event. Attire will be duty uniform or civilian equivalent. The purpose of the NPB is to emphasize the importance of prayer for the Nation, Fort Jackson, our armed forces, and our Families. The themes for the breakfast are: prayers for the nation, community relationship and spiritual fitness.
Out today, Vox has an article by Tara Burton hoping to help progressive readers understand the David Barton phenomenon. Over the years, Barton
has been identified as the “historian” behind a Christian nationalist narrative of the nation’s founding. Burton correctly connects newly appointed Religious Liberty Ambassador Sam Brownback and PA Republican candidate for Congress Rick Saccone with Barton. Brownback and Barton have a long relationship. I wrote about the Saccone-Barton link early last year.
Overall, to me as a long time student of this subject, there isn’t much new here.
When an Earned Degree Isn’t Earned
I am disappointed that Burton didn’t use the Vox platform to point out Barton’s academic fraud. She touched on it but left an incomplete impression:
Barton is a self-taught historian and activist. He’s received little formal historical training and his sole credentialed degree is a bachelor’s in religious education from evangelical Oral Roberts University, although he later claimed to have earned a doctorate from officially unaccredited Life Christian University on the basis of his published works.
Yes, he claimed one day to have an earned doctorate, but then the very next day, he took down his boastful claim when I revealed that the “earned doctorate” wasn’t earned but came from diploma mill Life Christian University. Barton no longer claims the degree. He won’t answer questions about his initial claim. Given that Burton said Barton gives Christian nationalism a “veneer of academic respectability,” I think this detail is quite significant.
The issue isn’t simply that he claimed a degree from an unaccredited school. Such that it is, he does have a piece of paper from Life Christian University. The claim which goes to Barton’s credibility is that he said that the degree was earned without specifying the means of earning it. Barton never said the degree was earned based on his published works. That rationale came from the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate.
Despite this missed opportunity, I think Burton’s gets Barton’s influence mostly right when she says:
Barton remains a prominent figure in evangelical and dominionist circles and a regular on conservative conference circuits. He continues to speak on his nationally syndicated WallBuilders radio show, on which he describes himself as “America’s premier historian.” That said, since his fall from grace, Barton has publicly been cited by fewer and fewer prominent politicians, which makes Saccone’s choice to feature him at an early rally striking. But despite this, his influence is such that his particular narrative of American history is still taken by some on the right as, well, gospel.
These days almost no students who take my classes know who Barton is. More younger people seem wary of his claims. However, among those who strongly believe America is a Christian nation, Barton can do no wrong.
I watched it for over an hour and saw three state events. The first one I couldn’t identify because I tuned in too late and then later on I heard Kansas and Delaware politicians talk about keeping faith in America. Several of the speakers talked about faith and mentioned people of all faiths but the only representative of any faith besides Christianity was a rabbi (I didn’t catch his name). All other people featured during the event were Christian. It became obvious the longer I listened that the event should have been named: Keep Conservative Christianity in America.
These conservative Christians seemed to feel that their faith was under attack. They spoke as if their freedom to practice their religion was in jeopardy. How strange a sight it was to see elected officials standing in places of power praying in the name of Jesus, invoking their specific religion without restriction, and complaining about limitations on their religious liberty. They quoted the Bible as if all religions and people of no religion should respect those teachings. Remember these are legislators who are proclaiming that they, as legislators, need to keep faith in America, but when they say faith, the only faith they are talking about is Christianity.
In the Delaware session, bad history was evident. The final speaker of the session (I couldn’t hear his name) told the story of Ben Franklin’s call to prayer as if the Constitutional Convention delegates actually heeded Franklin’s call and prayed daily during the Convention (they didn’t).
Unfortunately, this looks like another concerted effort to confuse Christians about the actual events of the founding era and church-state relations. This can only continue to lead many churches into a false mission of political activism, aligning themselves with Republican candidates who speak Christianese.
Better campaign than Keeping Faith in America: Keeping Christ in Christianity.
Generally, an individual occupying such a position with NR is not known as a liberal or even a “liberal bastard” as Glenn Beck once said about David Barton’s critics. Thus, I was interested to see such plain language aimed at Mr. Barton, a darling of some within what is left of the conservative world.
The Twitter thread is filled with polite give and take wherein Mr. Cooke doesn’t give an inch, reminding his readers that once upon a time Mr. Barton once admitted using second hand quotes without providing proper context. Even then, Barton claimed he only did what those pagan academics did.
Here’s Barton himself admitting that a host of the quotes he’s been using are false, and then arguing that that’s okay because those to whom he attributed them would probably have said them given their other views. https://t.co/4sefCihqB6https://t.co/tQDiLI2niq
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) December 17, 2017
Cooke here refers readers to Barton’s efforts to backtrack after it was discovered that some of the quotes in his book The Myth of Separation could not be located in primary sources. Barton said it was his idea to take those quotes out of his books. However, that hasn’t stopped him from using quotesthat are notin primary sources or manipulating the words of certain founders to get the meaning he wants (click the links for a few illustrations).
One of the most egregious instances of academic deception was Barton’s effort to pass off a diploma mill doctorate from Life Christian University as an earned degree. He has never explained why he went to all the trouble to create a video for his Facebook and YouTube accounts, post it for one day, but then remove it the next day when I revealed that the “earned” doctorate he proudly pointed to was given to him by a school he never attended. I wonder if donor funds went to pay the fee for that piece of paper.
In the war between the alt-right/Christian nationalist and establishment factions of the GOP, battles are being waged in state races around the country. Even Ted Cruz may face a primary challenge in TX. In MI, David Barton and now Sean Hannity have endorsed Patrick Colbeck for governor. Can Steve Bannon be far behind?
Colbeck’s opposition in MI isn’t just the Democrats. On October 10, the MI Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof stripped him of all of his Senate committee assignments. Although Meekhof has not provided a specific reason for the unusual move, it may be an expression of the GOP war between the establishment and alt-right/Christian nationalist factions of the party. According to a Detroit News report, Colbeck is a favorite of the tea party in MI.
Colbeck believes he is being punished for attempting to “drain the swamp.”
When one is working hard to drain the swamp, it shouldn’t come as any surprise if an alligator bites back ;)… https://t.co/yZQzbXUYWs
Colbeck posted to his campaign Twitter account the extraordinary letter from Meekhof.
In response to requests for a copy of the letter that I received Tuesday evening regarding the loss of my Committee assignments, read below. pic.twitter.com/iCtFvX7fjm
— Colbeck for Governor (@ColbeckForGov) October 16, 2017
Ordinarily, this would be the kiss of death for a GOP candidate. However, Colbeck’s race will be one to watch in order to assess the strength of the growing coalition between white identity alt-right nationalists and Christian nationalists. Although Trump and Bannon aren’t being mentioned by name as yet, the endorsement of Hannity puts Colbeck in play as an anti-establishment candidate.
Apparently, Sen. Colbeck didn’t like my post on Tuesday about David Barton’s endorsement. He blocked me from viewing his account on Twitter.
In the video, Barton chastises progressives for questioning his claim to have an earned doctorate. He said he has an earned doctorate but that he has chosen not to talk about it. However, the next day Barton chose to take the video off of both websites and chose not to talk about the reasons why.
Barton’s haughty claim to have an earned doctorate gave way to silence after it was revealed that the degree came from Life Christian University, a
diploma mill. According to the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate, Barton didn’t attend the school but was given credit for his historical writings. Even though one cannot meaningfully call a degree earned when you don’t take any classes, that is exactly what LCU does with famous preachers and religious leaders.
The state of Missouri advised fellow LCU degree recipient Joyce Meyer that her claim of an earned PhD from the school was against state law. Meyer’s lawyer responded that Meyer had already decided that describing the LCU PhD as earned was false. Meyer now describes her LCU degree as honorary. Although that description is legal in Missouri, LCU’s is not accredited by a Department of Education recognized accrediting body and the status as a university is unusual since the school is registered with the IRS as a church.
Barton called his degree earned but sarcastically dismissed the honest reporting of what he called progressives. Barton has never explained or apologized for his demeaning and misleading statements. Yet, he still claims to be “America’s premier historian.” Would “America’s premier historian” try to pass off what can only be called an honorary degree as an earned one?
As of now, America’s premier historian has chosen not to talk about it.
On the Joe Pags Show last Friday, David Barton likened Confederate statues as historical icons to the Holocaust ovens and Gestapo headquarters in Germany. In response to my critique of this analogy, Barton gave extended remarks to Austin American-Statesman reporter Jonathan Tilove in an article published today. In his remarks, Barton said Confederate statues were celebratory at the time they were put up in the same way statues of Stalin were celebratory. He also said Confederate General Robert E. Lee was “not a racist in any way, shape, fashion or form.”
Before I critique Barton’s statements about Stalin and Lee, let me observe that Barton clearly declared the evils of slavery and the Confederacy in this interview. While I disagree with his analogies and reasoning, I don’t think Barton intends for his defense of Confederate statues to encourage white supremacist Confederate sympathizers. Having made that important observation, I will say that his reference to Stalin doesn’t work and his defense of Lee is in line with the Lost Cause sanitizing of Lee’s life.
Stalin and Confederate Symbols
Tilove asked Barton about his comparison of Nazi atrocities and Confederate symbols. Barton didn’t address that point but pivoted to a new analogy involving Stalin. From Tilove’s article:
I [Tilove] asked if there wasn’t a difference between the maintaining of Nazi sites in Europe as a grim reminder and the heroic glorification of Confederate memorials.
Aren’t the Confederate memorials celebratory? BARTON They were for that period of time, in the same way that the Stalin statues that are still up in the Soviet Union were celebratory for him, but now you point at them and go, “Look, look at what they represented”, but that was in a period of time. They are up because they were celebrated at the time. And there’s no doubt in my mind that every one of those Confederate heroes was celebrated at the time because of where they were, the part of the country they were in, the people that supported them, but they were racist. That’s an easy teaching lesson at this point. Or it should be.
Stalin is not a good illustration for Barton’s case. In Russia currently, Stalin is returning to a position of esteem. According to USA Today, ten new statues of Stalin has gone up since 2012. Recently, Vladimir Putin criticized the “excessive demonization” of Stalin. Stalin is a respected figure in Russia as indicated by recent pollsthere. Statues of Stalin were celebratory when they were put up and they are still celebratory in Russia. Barton isn’t correct that Russians look at the statues and derive some lesson about the evils of Stalinism.
Surely, Barton would not want the same result for Confederate symbols here. The Confederate statues were celebratory when erected and since the Confederacy shouldn’t be celebrated, it is past time for the monuments to come down.
Robert E. Lee
About Lee, Barton said:
What do you think is the appropriate approach to the Confederate memorials? BARTON It is kind of a case by case thing. With Robert E. Lee, I totally dislike the Confederacy, I have no sympathy for them at all. But Robert E. Lee is not a racist in any way, shape, fashion or form. He fought for Virginia, and there’s no indication of racism on his part. Now you want to go to Nathan Bedford Forrest, you bet, he’s a founder of the KKK. I’ve got all sorts of problems with him. What those guys did at Fort Pillow, the massacre there of black Union soldiers is unbelievable. So it is a case by case basis in some ways.
Barton’s statement about Lee is astounding. While some of Lee’s biographers have whitewashed his racism, other primary source evidence calls into question such a positive account. Surely Barton has read Lee’s letter to his wife dated December 27, 1856:
The views of the Pres: of the systematic & progressive efforts of certain people of the North, to interfere with & change the domestic institutions of the South, are truthfully & faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans & purposes are also clearly Set forth, & they must also be aware, that their object is both unlawful & entirely foreign to them, their duty; for which they are irresponsible & unaccountable; & Can only be accomplished by them through the agency of a civil & servile war. In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly interested in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is Known & ordered by a wise & merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy. This influence though slow is sure. The doctrines & miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to Convert but a small part of the human race, & even Christian nations, what gross errors still exist! While we see the Course of the final abolition of human slavery is onward, & we give it the aid of our prayers & all justifiable means in our power we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who Sees the end; who Chooses to work by slow influences ; & with whom two thousand years are but a single day. Although the abolitionist must Know this; & must see that he has neither the right or power of operating except by moral means & suasion, & if he means well to the slave, he must not create angry feelings in the master; that although he may not approve the mode by which it pleases Providence to accomplish its purposes, the result will nevertheless be the same: that the reasons he gives for interference in what he has no Concern, holds good for every Kind of interference with our neighbours when we disapprove their Conduct; Still I fear he will persevere in his evil Course. Is it not strange that the descendants of those pilgrim fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion, have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others.
Lee’s version of Christianity required him to fight for African slaves stay in bondage because God willed it. God may take thousands of years to correct the situation but, for Lee, that was preferable to the work of the abolitionist. He called the abolitionist’s work an “evil Course.” Lee’s viewed African slaves as needing “painful discipline” before they could be free. This can only be described as some “shape, fashion or form” of racial superiority which Lee justified with Christianity.
Furthermore, there is primary evidence that Lee was not kind to his slaves, especially those who were caught trying to escape. On such slave, Wesley Norris, told his story in 1866. Lee was executor of the estate of his wife’s deceased father and as such administered the treatment of slaves. Norris described the beatings ordered by Lee for him and his sister. According to Norris, Lee told the overseer to “lay it on well.” I encourage readers to consult Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s book on Lee for a fuller picture of the Confederate General.
While I agree statues should be evaluated on a case by case basis, I think Barton’s view of Lee is informed more by the Lost Cause than accurate history. If Barton has evidence that Lee was not a racist nor a supporter of slavery, I encourage him to produce it.
Tilove’s post is fascinating and advances the discussion surround the monuments. I encourage you to read the whole piece.
In an appearance on Friday’s Joe Pags (Joe Pagliarulo) radio show, self-styled historian and Republican strategist David Barton invoked the existence of Nazi ovens and Gestapo headquarters in Germany as analogous to the existence of Confederate monuments in the U.S. You can listen to the podcast here (within the first 10 minutes). A transcript is below:
We’re looking at taking Confederate monuments down, and by the way, from a historical standpoint, if you know your history those monuments don’t scare you. If you know your history in Germany, the fact that you have ovens where the Holocaust occurred. The fact that you have Gestapo headquarters that are now mu – that’s not a problem because you know it’s wrong. And because you know it’s wrong, you can teach the next generation and that’s why you’ll find that Germans are particularly sensitive toward neo-Nazi movements arising in Germany. They don’t tolerate it. So even though they’re there, they don’t – and so you can do that with history. In Israel, they got great kings like David, but you know what, they’ve also got a monument to Absalom, who was a (unintelligible). They’ve also got a street named after Ahab who was a lousy king. But that helps them know the good, the bad, the ugly.
So when you do Confederate monuments today, we don’t know enough about our own history to know the balance that used to be there and that was part of it. So to put the balance in perspective, when you talk Confederacy, let’s cut right to the chase and say it’s not Confederacy, it’s Southern Democrats, straight out, hands down.
Barton’s Faulty Reasoning
Tributes to the Confederacy aren’t necessarily scary; they are offensive. The analogy Barton attempts to make is bizarre. The ovens and Gestapo headquarters were not preserved by the German government as tributes to the Nazis. Confederate statues are tributes erected many years after the events of the Civil War took place. They were erected to elevate the image of the Confederacy. What the Germans kept was not to elevate the image of the Nazis but to demonstrate the evil. The Confederate symbols and monuments which are being targeted were not erected to show how bad the Confederacy was.
For Barton’s analogy to make sense, there would need to be a movement to bulldoze over the battlefields and other historical locations. I don’t know of any efforts to do this and the conversation between Barton and Pagliarulo didn’t touch on any such movement. Removing monuments placed to sanitize the image of the Confederacy isn’t in that category.
Barton came close to making sense when he accurately said the Germans are sensitive to neo-Nazi elements. In fact, Holocaust denial is a criminal offense as is displaying Nazi symbols. If we take that German example and translate it to the U.S., it would suggest that we should be very sensitive about neo-Confederate elements, such as white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis. It would suggest that we should not build tributes to the Confederacy and remove the tributes already in place. If Germany could teach us anything, it would be that those monuments should never have been erected in the first place.
About the Gestapo headquarters: Barton seemed to be about to say that the headquarters was a museum. However, those facilities were destroyed after the war. More recently, a museum dedicated to showing the horror of Nazi institutions was built. Again, what the Germans built was not a tribute to Nazism, but what is called the Topography of Terror Documentation Center. I don’t believe any of the Confederate monuments at issue document the horrors of slavery or the Jim Crow laws which followed.
Barton and Pags Real Target: The Democrats
I think the reason Barton has such a hard time with this issue is because he really wants to make Democrats look bad. He really wants people to understand that the Democrats favored slavery and were behind the KKK. Barton said:
So when you do Confederate monuments today, we don’t know enough about our own history to know the balance that used to be there and that was part of it. So to put the balance in perspective, when you talk Confederacy, let’s cut right to the chase and say it’s not Confederacy, it’s Southern Democrats, straight out, hands down.
When Landrieu the Governor or the Mayor of New Orleans takes down 4 Confederate monuments, let’s point out that it’s a Democrat mayor taking down 4 Democrat heroes that were heroes in the South. Now would that change the narrative if people knew that today. You bet it would.
The racism narrative would change if, for example, people knew that Democrats openly acknowledged in Congressional hearings that yes, the Ku Klux Klan is our organization, that’s a Democrat arm. Who knows that today? We know so little about our own history that we can’t even tell the good from the bad anymore so we think we have to wipe it out. And does that mean if conservatives take over, we’re going to get rid of the FDR memorial because he was a progressive liberal? Or if liberals get it, were going to get rid of Calvin Coolidge’s home because he was a conservative Republican? Where does it stop at that point? But you don’t worry about it if you know history, but we just don’t know history today.
True, Southern Democrats were defenders of slavery. However, this fact is well known. Anyone who studies the Civil War even a little bit realizes that the party of Lincoln and emancipation was the GOP. However, it is now a Republican president who is defending what he calls the “beautiful statues and monuments.” The Democrats want to take the statues down. It doesn’t matter much that long dead Democrats were racists when the party of Lincoln has shifted to a defense of the Confederate symbols. Why would Republicans want to leave them up? It makes no sense to me.
Barton’s New Lost Cause
When Barry Goldwater failed to support the Civil Rights Act, Martin Luther King, Jr. urged his followers to vote against Goldwater. Although African-American voters had been steadily moving Democrat for several years, Nixon got about one-third of the African-American vote in 1960. The turning point was Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act. The historical direction of the African-American vote isn’t about African-Americans not knowing the history of segregationist Southern Democrats, it is about the choices made by GOP leaders over the past 50 years.
Barton’s efforts to bolster Republicans by constantly reminding people about the Lost Cause Democrats is a new kind of Lost Cause. The failings of the modern Republican party are not going to be sanitized by reminders of the failings of the Southern Democrats of the past. If anything, it is admirable that modern Democrats want to make amends and, if possible, atone for the history of the party. Shouldn’t Democrats want to remove these symbols? And shouldn’t Republicans, members of the party of Lincoln, be cheering them on?
Barton referred to Mitch Landrieu, the Democrat mayor of New Orleans. Landrieu’s speech about removing the monuments makes a compelling case for his decision. The mayor spoke about history and pointed out that many of those monuments were attempts to change history.
So, let’s start with the facts. The historicrecord is clear. The Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal—through monuments and through other means—to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.
First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.
It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.
These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.
Landrieu is correct. The monuments of Confederate heroes were not erected in New Orleans to warn against the errors of the Confederacy but to laud champions of white supremacy. If the history of these monuments is known, it becomes even more clear why they need to be removed from a place of honor.
Barton’s Take on the KKK
Near the end of the broadcast, Barton brought up the KKK. Because the KKK targeted black and white Republicans, Barton minimizes the white supremacist nature of the KKK’s goals.
That’s when the Klan arose and by the way, the Klan did not arise to take out blacks, it’s stated purpose was to take out Republicans. That’s why if you look at lynchings all the way up until 1962, you have 3500 black lynchings, but 1300 white lynchings, so what you have is an organization going after Republicans. Not after blacks per se. It’s just at that time, any black in the South was a Republican. You couldn’t hang any whites, because some of them were Democrats.
The Klan arose to reestablish white supremacy in the South, not just to go after Republicans. Since Republicans at the time stood in the way of that goal, they were targeted by Klan violence. Barton’s description has some truth to it, but he makes the history more about political party than race. For the most part, white Republicans were targeted if they helped African-Americans.
Barton’s lynching numbers are pretty accurate but a little misleading in the way he uses them. Some of those white lynchings were in Western states for reasons unrelated to white supremacy. As noted, whites who helped blacks were also targeted in the South, but the figures on white lynchings includes people who were killed as victims of frontier justice.
A Couple of White Guys on Slavery
One of the more surreal discussions happened near the end of the segment. Barton and Pagliarulo discussed slavery. For some reason, Barton thought it important to say that 43% of free blacks in South Carolina owned slaves. He added that the first slavery law “done in America provided for white slaves, Indian slaves, and black slaves. How come we don’t hear that slavery is a human issue not a race issue.”
Pagliarulo chimed in to say that the first slave owner in the U.S. was a black man – Anthony Johnson. He was one of the first but what difference does that make? What is the point of this discussion? Are these white guys trying to change the history of slavery in America to make it about something other than race?
I really don’t understand the point of highlighting the exceptions as if they were the rule. The reason we don’t hear that slavery was a human issue is because in America, it quickly became about race. The fact is slave laws evolved so that black slaves were treated differently than all others. Slavery in the United States was about race and by the time of the Civil War, the vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, asserted the following about slavery and race:
MR. STEPHENS rose and spoke as follows:
Mr. Mayor, and Gentlemen of the Committee, and Fellow-Citizens:- . . . We are in the midst of one of the greatest epochs in our history. The last ninety days will mark one of the most memorable eras in the history of modern civilization. . . .
I was remarking, that we are passing through one of the greatest revolutions in the annals of the world. Seven States have within the last three months thrown off an old government and formed a new. This revolution has been signally marked, up to this time, by the fact of its having been accomplished without the loss of a single drop of blood. [Applause.]
This new constitution, or form of government, constitutes the subject to which your attention will be partly invited. . . .
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.” Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind — from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just — but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal. (emphasis added)
It is impossible to read Stephens’ remarks made on March 21, 1861 in Savannah, Georgia and not come away with the crystal clear conclusion that slavery in the U.S. was about race. The white man Stephens said the proper state of the black man was to serve the white man. For Stephens, slavery was not a “human issue” but an issue of one race being better than another. In my opinion, any attempt to minimize that fact is an unhelpful expression of white privilege.
What Should Happen with the Monuments?
The thrust of the program was to defend the monuments. At the end of the show, the host Joe Pagliarulo said he believes local communities should decide what to do with them. As a matter of policy, I agree that the federal government should not intervene in those local decisions. However, I also call on Christians to lead the local charge to remove Confederate symbols which were erected as tributes to Confederate heroes or the Confederacy as a movement. Since the Confederacy was a tribute to the evil doctrine of racial superiority, monuments and symbols which respect and celebrate heroes of the Confederacy should have no place of honor in the public square.
I searched preview copies of Orwell’s diaries, a book of letters, and 1984 on Google and Amazon. I have a digital copy of 1984. Most of the time, if the quote is sourced, 1984 is the source. The quote is not in there. Otherwise, the quote is simply attributed to Orwell without a source.
I then wrote the Orwell Society for their opinion. Neil Smith, Secretary of the Society wrote back to say:
We do not believe this is an Orwell quote, although the argument is one roughly used in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
It seems that there are lots of quotes circulated without reference that are picked up by others without them checking independently so thanks again for checking.
Thank you Neil.
To be fair, this quote is all over the place with no questions asked as far as I can see. Barton joins a long list of people who have used it without a source. And perhaps, Orwell did say or write it but there is no evidence he did, and the source most often given doesn’t have the quote. My guess is that this is like the fake Bonhoeffer attribution frequently used by Eric Metaxas.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
This quote isn’t in Bonhoeffer’s works and all major Bonhoeffer scholars say he didn’t say or write it. However, it sounds like it fits him so it refuses to die.
If readers have evidence or a source for the quote, please contact me. I will correct my post and beg forgiveness if an Orwell source can be found.
Orwellian Doublethink Lives at Wallbuilders
There is something Orwellian about “America’s premiere historian” criticizing academic historians for not using primary sources when he spreads a quote without a primary source. It is doubly Orwellian that Barton misattributes the quote to Orwell and, if history is any measure, will leave it up on his page with Orwell’s name attached without acknowledgement that he doesn’t have a primary Orwell source for the quote. We could go full triple Orwellian because much of Barton’s work often proves the quote, just not in the manner Barton believes it does.
The allure of attributing ideologically friendly quotes to popular historical figures must be so great for David Barton that it is like an addiction. If that’s true, Barton needs a support group.
On his Wallbuilders Facebook page, Barton again uses a quote oft attributed incorrectly to Abraham Lincoln.
As I have noted in the past, this quote can’t be found in Lincoln’s works or speeches. Barton has attributed it to Lincoln before, and he has contested it before. This time he labels the quote with the phrase “attributed to Abraham Lincoln.”
I don’t think it helps to pass the buck and say the quote was attributed to Lincoln. Who did that? What is the source of the quote? Barton constantly faults academic historians with revisionism and failure to use primary sources, but a case can be made that he is the biggest offender. In fact, that is why I point this out. His complaints about academic historians ring very hollow when he does exactly what he accuses them of doing.
If he likes the quote, why not just use it and tag it with anonymous or unknown? The only reason I can think of is that it wouldn’t have as much impact on readers. However, isn’t that misleading?