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Meet the Religious Right Charlatan Who Teaches Tea Party America The Totally Pretend History They Want to Hear

David Barton is a Republican Party activist and a fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught, self-proclaimed historian who is miseducating millions of Americans about U.S. history.

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…it is God and not man who establishes the borders of nations. National boundaries are set by God. If God didn't want boundaries, he would have put everyone in the same world and there would have been no nations; we would have all been living together as one group and one people. That didn't happen. From the Tower of Babel, he sent them out with different languages, different cultures. God's the one who drew up the lines for the nations, so to say open borders is to say ‘God, you goofed it all up and when you had borders, you shouldn't have done it’ ... And so, from a Christian standpoint, you cannot do that. God's the one who establishes the boundaries of nations.

Barton and WallBuilders Live co-host Rick Green have also featured William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, whom Right Wight Watch has described as “ the viciously anti-immigrant activist” who made news when he “ demanded that Sen. Lindsey Graham admit that he is gay, saying that his refusal to do so was allowing President Obama and others to blackmail him into supporting immigration reform.”Gheen said of the Department of Homeland Security, “they don't care about the death and suffering illegal immigration is causing the American public” and called immigrants’ advocates enemies of America.

Racial History

As part of his tireless efforts to promote the Republican Party, Barton has peddled a one-sided “documentary” called Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White, which is designed to help the GOP reach out to black voters by blaming the Democratic Party for slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow. That documentary was a focus of People For the American Way Foundation’s 2006 report on Barton, Propaganda Masquerading as History. Barton’s film credits the GOP with the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Not so surprisingly, his history stops there, ignoring the decades of GOP power-building in the south based on fanning racial resentment among conservative white voters. Barton continues to promote his ideologically blinkered history of race in America, devoting his WallBuilders Live radio show in the first week of March 2011 to a recap of Setting the Record Straight.

Barton also offers a revisionist take on the history of slavery in America, which among other things portrays the Constitution’s treatment of slaves as three-fifths of a person as evidence of the Christian founders’ anti-slavery sentiments.“ Barton accuses historians of hiding the truth about slavery and racism from the American people, a charge that fits the larger conspiracy-oriented worldview of Beck and other leading conservatives,” says religion scholar Julie Ingersoll, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida, who notes that Barton’s revisionist view is now showing up in Tea Partiers’ talking points.

Ingersoll summarizes Barton’s strategic revisionism:

David Barton, Glenn Beck’s favorite history “professor,” is the creator and purveyor of a revisionist history of race in America that is rapidly gaining traction in conservative and Tea Party circles. That history, drawn in part from the writings of Christian Reconstructionists, recasts modern-day Republicans as the racially inclusive party, and modern-day Democrats as the racists supportive of slavery and post-Emancipation racist policies.

Barton frames the details for maximum impact on contemporary politics, to an increasingly growing audience. Like Barton’s larger revisionist effort to develop and perpetuate the narrative that America is a “Christian nation,” the “Republicans-are-really-the-party-of-racial-equality” narrative is not entirely fictive. Some historical points Barton makes are true; but he and his star pupil Beck manipulate those points along with false historical claims in order to promote their political agenda.

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