Monday, February 4, 2013

More Barton Debunking

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but as long as Barton keeps appearing on television with Glen Beck and influencing so many people with his distorted views of history, historians and other critics will keep writing.

The latest critique comes from J.L. Bell at Boston 1775 and it has to do with Barton's claim that there were only two gun accidents in the entire founding period.  Bell actually found five incidents in a little over a year.  Read Bell's entire post, but here is a taste:

According to Chris Rodda at Free Thought Blogs, in a recent sit-down with television entertainer Glenn Beck, the debunked author David Barton stated:
I have searched and in the founding era I think I’ve only ever found two gun accidents and everybody was hauling guns back then. You took your guns to church, you were required by state law in some states to take your guns to church. We didn’t have accidents because everyone was familiar with how to use them.
It’s not clear what “law in some states” about taking guns to church Barton had in mind. Clayton Cramer’s Armed America notes laws in colonial South Carolina in 1724 and 1739 requiring white men to bring their weapons to church because of fear of slave rebellions, but those were exceptions. If it had already been usual for “everybody” to go to church armed, the colony wouldn’t have needed new laws to require the practice.

It is clear that Barton’s search for “gun accidents” in the “founding era” was inadequate and produced findings that match his political preferences, not the historical record.

Keep reading here.  Why do Christians and Glenn Beck followers keep turning to Barton as a source of historical information?


Ed T. said...

In regards to your last question, I can only address one part of it. I don't listen to Glenn Beck, so I can't address that part.

As for other Christians, I have no idea how many of my conservative evangelical associates take him as an authority on history. Maybe a lot. I've never discussed history - as it encompasses Barton's views - a great deal with my fellow Christians. For those that accept Barton's views, it may be that pastors and other such folks that promote him or invite him to their churches just trust that an another believer with such an overwhelming amount of information is truthful and accurate in handling that information.

I'm currently in a men's group that is watching Barton's "American Heritage Series". Of the 15 or so men there, only 2 or 3 have said anything from which I can infer that they think Barton is right. Whether the others believe this stuff, I don't know; nor do I now how many of them know much about Barton to begin with.

At least 1 other guy in the group doesn't take Barton's views as entirely accurate history.

I'd be very interested in some actual polling concerning Barton and his acceptance in what Christians believe about American history.

Alencon said...

Why is your mens group watching a series by someone that is known to distort American history? Are you watching it to point out the obvious lies and errors or is it being presented to you as authoritative? Allow me to suggest that you and groups like your group may be the issue.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the link. Commenters at that post have supplied details of many more firearms accidents in pre-Revolutionary America. It's rather hard not to find them when reading newspapers and diaries, but perhaps that's not the way David Barton went about his research.

Ed T. said...

Alencon....we're watching it because the guy who organized the group at our church chose it. This caused me to bump Dr. Fea's book to the top of my reading list.

It's not a group to dissect the work. The guy who started the group has no problem with discussing other views. Whether or not he would consider Barton to be "authoritative", I can't say.

As for your "obvious lies and errors" statement, I don't think "obvious" is a legitimate adjective for this. Unless you're a history junkie or a lover of history, people may not even know who Barton is. Many or most may have no reason to doubt what he says isn't historically accurate, just as one wouldn't have immediate issues to question anything on the History Channel or PBS.