David Barton and Bryan Fischer Get All Three-Year Old on Their Critics

Aug 15 2012 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Warren Throckmorton

Ya gotta give it to him: extremist fantasist David Barton has no quit in him – unfortunately for him. He seems bound and determined to prove himself a fool thrice over. I’m not complaining – indeed, we should provide all the rope he needs to metaphorically hang himself.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say: I’m not the one being attacked. Barton is continuing to attack psychology professor Warren Throckmorton, however, one of the authors of Getting Jefferson Right (along with Michael Coulter), a rebuttal to Barton’s The Jefferson Lies.

His new attack on Throckmorton (a relentless critic of Bartonian absurdities over the past two years) has more than a bit of childish tit for tat to it, however, since he argues not the merits of their respective arguments but over Throckmorton’s position on reparative therapy, trying to build the position that Throckmorton isn’t really a conservative Christian and that since Throckmorton is not a conservative Christian, his point of view is invalid – he’s just a secular leftist elitist like all Barton’s other critics

Take a look Barton’s delegitimization of a prominent critic:

Barton: “Don’t let Warren Throckmorton tell you he’s a religious conservative. There’s a new piece out today showing just how radical he is on religious and biblical issues; he’s part of the religious left.”

Barton insists that this is not a case of one religious conservative taking on another religious conservative. Don’t let Throckmorton fool you, he says (let Barton fool you instead, is the implication).

Fischer: “Warren Throckmorton has come after me repeatedly.”

It’s no wonder Fischer would want to be in on any lynching of Throckmorton, since, as Fischer says, Throckmorton has torn down some of Fischer’s lies as well.

It’s amazing how whiny fundamentalist Christian liars can be when they’re caught at their lies. Notice there is no point by point refutation of Throckmorton’s arguments here but rather a blanket attempt to assign the psychology professor to the category of constructed Other, where his opinions don’t count. Silencing him is a lot easier that way than trying to win arguments you can’t win.

Here’s how he does it: Barton complains that Throckmorton was on “their” team in the 80s and 90s, using the claim that Throckmorton was pro-reparative therapy for gays and that the change came when he began to oppose reparative therapy, a change that brought about a dramatic shift in worldviews. Throckmorton will tell you that he is not a reparative therapist and has never been a reparative therapist and that previous words of his have been taken out of context.

Speaking to The Blaze, Throckmorton correctly points out where the real problem lies, “If we don’t have the right facts, we’re going to continue to talk past each-other,” he said. “Barton’s followers think that if you don’t agree with them then you’re against God and you’re a liberal person.”

Barton claims, says Throckmorton, that “I have no basis to critique his claims about Jefferson because I am not trained as a historian. However, he can make moral judgments about me because of my position on a psychology related matter.”

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is that Barton himself is not trained as a historian. So if Throckmorton has no right to critique Barton because he is not a historian then Barton has no right to write about Jefferson in the first place because he is not a historian. Conversely, if a non-historian can write about Jefferson, a non-historian can critique him. Barton rests his expertise on his collection of documents. Throckmorton can certainly look at the same documents, can’t he? It seems simple enough to me.

The second problem with Barton’s argument is that Throckmorton is a psychology professor and in writing about his academic position on reparative therapy for gays he is at least writing about something in his field. Barton’s field is religious education, which is neither history nor psychology.

One does not have to agree with Throckmorton on reparative therapy to at least acknowledge (assuming honesty and personal integrity – a reach, I know) that he is writing within the purview of his chosen field of study – in other words about a subject in which he can claim expertise.

Until Barton writes a book on religious education, he cannot claim the same. Fischer can call him a historian all he wants, and Barton can call himself a historian, but he is not. Categorically: what Barton does is not history except in the sense that it is “history as it should have been.” But we call that speculative fiction. People write alternate history all the time but they don’t make the mistake of claiming its actual history.

One could easily dismiss all this by simply stating that Barton has no shame, and indeed he has not. He is a religious elitist accusing others of being academic elitists, a man singularly ill-informed on a variety of subjects he insists to know more about than other people; freely able to criticize their work but somehow immune to criticism himself.

Barton’s supporters are similarly clueless, claiming that criticism of Barton proves Barton right while ignoring the logical consequence of this, that the people Barton criticizes are also necessarily right because of that criticism. Obviously then, everyone is right and that is an impossible situation to say the least. Facts aren’t determined in such fashion. Facts are what they are, not what people say they are.

Barton, a mischief-making dilettante, misstepped by writing and publishing a book on a subject about which he knows nothing. He claims that 700+ footnotes render that book factual, but peppering a book with footnotes does not bestow reliability if the footnotes themselves are as dishonest as the text they reference. A footnoted lie is still a lie.

And Throckmorton and Coulter thoroughly demolished Barton’s now discredited and out of print book. That Barton is embarking upon an attack against his critics on grounds having nothing to do with Jefferson or his book of lies about Jefferson only proves that Barton is a man who has run out of arguments (if he ever had any to begin with). All he has left are conspiracy theories, which, one has to admit, are what extremist of any stripe seem to like most.

Comments are off for this post