On his Founders Friday show on Fox, Glenn Beck‘s guest was David Barton, founder and President of Wall Builders, an organization committed to tearing down the wall in the United States between church and state. At one point, Barton made a claim that just sounded suspicious.
Barton explaining historical revisionism
Barton: The term revisionist actually became official in 1903 and is part of Marxian, socialist propaganda…That’s a term that they invented. And they said, the reason you do this is because you want to separate people from the old and move them in a new direction. You want to evolve society. You want transformational change. Revisionism was identified as a tool by which you can transform a culture. So what we started doing is we had to make all these guys look bad. Otherwise we’ll get attached to them. So we got to make them look like a bunch .….[inaudible]
Beck: Did anybody know that? I didn’t know that.
Barton: When you want to sever yourself from the past, you got to make them look really bad. You got to make them look like racists, a bunch of bigots, atheists, agnostics….
No one in Beck’s audience knew this; Beck didn’t know this. Something didn’t sound right with Barton’s claim. Extensive research on historical revisionism found nothing close to what Barton claimed except from Barton himself and someone else using Barton as a reference. Even more astounding information about Barton’s claim will be shown below, but first, what exactly is historical revisionism?
Those who know exactly what historical revisionism can skip down to barely over half way to: David Barton’s own words.
1. Advocacy of the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine, especially a revision of historical events and movements.
2. A recurrent tendency within the Communist movement to revise Marxist theory in such a way as to provide justification for a retreat from the revolutionary to the reformist position.
The second definition is confirmed at: http://encyclopedia.stateuniversity.com/pages/18506/revisionism.html
As the word implies, historical revisionism is the exercise whereby historians revise their opinions on historical events in the face of new evidence. It is an essential part of the history writing process. “Revisionism” (with quotes) is a distortion of history practiced by persons, usually inspired by antisemitism or a desire to rehabilitate the Nazis, or both. They deny that the Holocaust — the attempted extermination of the Jews by Nazi Germany — took place. The more accurate description of “revisionists”, is “deniers”. They describe themselves as revisionists because they think it gives them an air of respectability.
…is the reexamination and reviewing of the stories told as history, with an eye to updating them with more recently discovered, more unbiased, or more accurate information. Broadly, it is the approach that history as it has been traditionally told may not be entirely accurate and may be subject to review.
The term historical revisionism is also, however, used by propagandists who wish to rewrite history to better support an ideological (and often less accurate) position. The term in this sense is most strongly associated with Holocaust denial.
So far there is a tie to Communist movement, but it’s internal to the Communist movement. There’s also an idea that revisionism is tied to propagandists, but are there any references to American Marxists revising history as Barton claimed?
Revisionist history is complicated by the fact that people’s identities are strongly linked to their histories; challenging long-held claims about past events draws criticism and controversy. The field itself isn’t cut and dry — revisionist historians work from angle s. Often, revisio nist history is from one of three major perspectives:
- Social or theoretical perspective to re-examine the past through different lenses
- Fact-checking perspe ctive to correct the record of past events
- Negative perspective that views revisionism as an intentional effort to falsify or skew past events for specific motives
Since the days of ancient Greek and Roman scholars, such as Plutarch and Tacitus, people have been editing recorded history. But modern historical revisionism originated in the 20th century, after the first global military conflict that shocked the world: World War I. [Emphasis added] The aftermath of the war would alter the way scholars and laymen alike viewed historical preservation.
There was more on this from the same website:
Just like a journalist must report events devoid of bias, so must the historian. But complete objectivity is nearly impossible since history often takes the form of a continuous, chronological narrative. That sense of continuity helps us grasp concepts, but in reality, events don’t happen always in perfect sequence like a trail of dominos. The roots of modern revisionism sprang from that theoretical struggle for objectivity. [Emphasis added]
Once the dust settled to some degree after World War I, historians were left with the enormous task of sorting through the rubble. How would the military conflict be depicted in the years to come? How did the countries involved contribute to the war? Attempting to answer such questions, historians realized that complete objectivity was impossible. Even choosing what to include and omit about the war felt subjective. This was an issue scholars had wrestled with since the late 19th century.
Barton’s rhetoric was matched on the Probe Ministries website.
Many historians have wanted to secularize our founders. Take this quote from W.E. Woodward. He wrote that “The name of Jesus Christ is not mentioned even once in the vast collection of Washington’s published letters.”
At the bottom of that article was: Suggested Reading,
David Barton, Original Intent (Aledo, TX: WallBuilders Press, 1996), Chapter 16.
David Barton’s own words.
Here is what David Barton himself wrote on his own website:
There were many other significant issues that led to our original Fourth of July; so why aren’t Americans familiar with the rest? Because in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, a group of secular-minded writers (including Charles and Mary Beard, W. E. Woodward, Fairfax Downey, and others) began penning works on American history that introduced a new paradigm. For this group, economics was the only issue of importance, so they began to write texts accordingly (their approach is now described as “the economic view of American history” and since the 1960s has been widely embraced throughout the education community). Consequently, since “taxation without representation” was the economic grievance in the Declaration, it became the sole clause that Americans studied.
As a result, God is no longer visible in American history; and His absence is now construed as a mandate for secularism.
Americans have been subjected to “revisionism”? – defined by the dictionary as “the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view; especially a revision of historical events and movements.” Revisionism attempts to alter the way a people sees its history in order to cause a change in public policy.
I have spent years collecting thousands of original and priceless documents from American history in general and black history in particular; God’s fingerprints are evident throughout.
A “historian” can determine that “God’s fingerprints are evident” in American history has the gall to make claims on The Glenn Beck show that no one supports, not even David Barton himself! When Barton claimed that “The term revisionist actually became official in 1903 and is part of Marxian, socialist propaganda.,” he would have been accurate if he’s replaced “in 1903” with on the Glenn Beck Show and “Marxian, socialist” with reactionary Christian. As follows: The term revisionist actually became official on The Glenn Beck Show and is part of reactionary Christian propaganda.
The facts of history do not support Beck’s and Barton’s revised version.
From Mother Jones magazine, Susan Jacoby wrote: “Revisionist rhetoric notwithstanding, the founders left God out of the Constitution?and it wasn’t an oversight.” From that report:
For the 21st-century apostles of religious correctness, the godless Constitution—how could those framers have forgotten the most important three-letter word in the dictionary?—poses a formidable problem requiring the creation of tortuous historical fictions that include both subtle prevarication and bald-faced lies.
Religious reactionaries of the 18th century, by contrast, were honest in their attacks on the secularism of the new Constitution. One North Carolina minister observed with forthright disgust, during his state’s ratification debate, that the abolition of religious tests for officeholders amounted to nothing less than “an invitation for Jews and pagans of every kind to come among us.” The Reverend John M. Mason, a fire-breathing New York minister, declared the absence of God in the Constitution “an omission which no pretext whatever can palliate” and warned that Americans would “have every reason to tremble, lest the Governor of the universe, who will not be treated with indignity by a people more than by individuals, overturn from its foundation the fabric we have been rearing, and crush us to atoms in the wreck.”
The marvel of America’s founders, even though nearly all of the new nation’s citizens were not only Christian but Protestant, was that they possessed the foresight to avoid establishing a Christian or religious government and instead chose to create the first secular government in the world. That the new Constitution failed to acknowledge God’s power and instead ceded governmental authority to “We the People…in order to form a more perfect Union” was a break not only with historically distant European precedents but with recent American precedents, most notably the 1781 Articles of Confederation, which did pay homage to “the Great Governor of the World,” and the Declaration of Independence, with its majestic statement that “all men…are
statement that “all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
On Founders Fridays, Christian revisionist history is used for propaganda to make people wrongly believe that the framers created a Christian government. They do this to affect public policy.