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Medievalist
08-10-2012, 02:47 AM
Citing a loss of confidence in the book's details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it's ceasing publication because it found that "basic truths just were not there."

Full story here (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/09/158510648/publisher-pulls-controversial-thomas-jefferson-book-citing-loss-of-confidence).

Alessandra Kelley
08-10-2012, 03:30 AM
Full story here (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/09/158510648/publisher-pulls-controversial-thomas-jefferson-book-citing-loss-of-confidence).

Whoops.

Alessandra Kelley
08-10-2012, 03:41 AM
My goodness.

According to history writer (but not historian as he has no degree in history) David Barton (http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/157777697/cue-the-tape-how-david-barton-sees-the-world):

* The US Constitution directly quotes the Bible (It doesn't).

* More than half of the Founding Fathers went to Bible school (They had "Seminary" Degrees -- which at the time just meant they went to college).

* Congress printed a Bible (No, although they did let their chaplains proofread one for a Philadelphia printer).

* Congress recommended that the Bible be used in public schools (No, that was that same Philadelphia printer).

Oh -- and this person without a history degree claims that historians who disagree with his conclusions are jealous or liberal (http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/157754542/the-most-influential-evangelist-youve-never-heard-of?ps=comm&ec=mostpopular3col) (Shades of that recent story about Ann Romney (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=251713)!).

Calla Lily
08-10-2012, 03:43 AM
Where were their copyeditors? I've never copyedited a book where I didn't fact-check at least a few things. Scary.

Amarie
08-10-2012, 03:51 AM
If you are the editor buying a book about Jefferson, one of the most extensively researched men in American history, you'd think you'd be a tiny bit suspicious of someone claiming to have new information or claiming they can expose falsehoods about existing information.

Alessandra Kelley
08-10-2012, 04:05 AM
Where were their copyeditors? I've never copyedited a book where I didn't fact-check at least a few things. Scary.


If you are the editor buying a book about Jefferson, one of the most extensively researched men in American history, you'd think you'd be a tiny bit suspicious of someone claiming to have new information or claiming they can expose falsehoods about existing information.

Maybe they thought it would be like James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/296662.Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me).

Oh, and it would appear that Mr. Barton's critics include conservative as well as liberal historians (http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19820), although he has "received support from Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and other political leaders."

I don't quite understand, however, why a right-wing Evangelist would wish to paint Thomas Jefferson as a traditional Christian who was anti-slavery and pro-civil rights. This sort of fabrication is usually done for propaganda purposes, but what exactly is the intended propaganda?

M.Macabre
08-10-2012, 04:05 AM
If you are the editor buying a book about Jefferson, one of the most extensively researched men in American history, you'd think you'd be a tiny bit suspicious of someone claiming to have new information or claiming they can expose falsehoods about existing information.

This :/

Calla Lily
08-10-2012, 04:06 AM
This is all the fault of the Weekly World News (http://weeklyworldnews.com/). If their print edition hadn't gone belly-up, books like this would've had the perfect home. (The online-only edition is a sad ghost of its former glory.)


Alessandra, my guess at the intended audience: The extreme right-wing evangelicals who want Creationism taught in public schools, insist that only selective OT laws should be followed, and would like every religion except their narrow brand of "Christianity" wiped off the face of the earth.

I've seen vocal adherents of this (in person and in the news) attempt to rewrite history according to the way they think it should've happened.

Medievalist
08-10-2012, 04:15 AM
I got nuthin'

The book reads like something from a semi-literate hack right from the start.

Academic /scholarly histories are vetted by outside readers before publication by university presses, and major presses like W. W. Norton and Scribners also use outside reviewers for history mss.

juniper
08-10-2012, 06:54 AM
Curious to me, too, as to how the book made it that far.

"When the concerns came in, from multiple people, and that had weight too, we were trying to sort things out," said Thomas Nelson Senior Vice President and Publisher Brian Hampton. "Were these matters of opinion? Were they differences of interpretation? But as we got into it, our conclusion was that the criticisms were correct. There were historical details — matters of fact, not matters of opinion, that were not supported at all."

Seems like the time for "getting into it" was before publication and shipping out a gazillion copies, not after. One of those mysteries of publishing.

Perhaps it was an effort to get a huge bestseller onto the market quickly for needed cash flow. If the book has been on the market since April, would the purchasing curve peaked already? Has the publisher already made a ton of money on it, or does pulling it down create a deficit situation?

Amadan
08-10-2012, 07:06 AM
I don't quite understand, however, why a right-wing Evangelist would wish to paint Thomas Jefferson as a traditional Christian who was anti-slavery and pro-civil rights. This sort of fabrication is usually done for propaganda purposes, but what exactly is the intended propaganda?


The Founding Fathers have acquired mythic status in the U.S., particularly Thomas Jefferson, so he's kind of like Jesus in that everyone likes to construct arguments promoting the idea that his political and social views would perfectly align with their own if he were alive today.

For the evangelicals, it's particularly significant because their underlying goal of eroding the separation between church and state and promoting an explicitly Christian government requires a lot of creative interpretation about the Constitution's intent and wording, and the motives of the men behind it.

As for the anti-slavery, pro-civil rights thing, this has also been standard right-wing revisionism for quite a while: claiming that all bad things in history were actually liberal inventions that conservatives opposed. (See: Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism.) So the logic goes: everyone admires Jefferson => Jefferson was a conservative => Jefferson opposed slavery and went to Bible school.

Norman D Gutter
08-10-2012, 08:45 AM
I generally catch 10 minutes or so of Barton's radio program on my evening commute. A couple of months ago he went through his Jefferson book on the program. I checked it out on Amazon and Goodreads. The reviews really congregated around 5 stars and 1 star. I read them all, and decided not to get the book. I have a feeling I agree with Barton's general premises, but some of his logic and conclusions are beyond my understanding.

But surely there's a place in literature for the amateur historian. I consider myself one, and self-published a book on that basis (listed in my signature). I say right up front in the Introduction that I'm an amateur. Barton should have done the same.

NDG

juniper
08-10-2012, 09:52 AM
But surely there's a place in literature for the amateur historian.

But surely even amateurs should care about getting the "facts" right, no?

dangerousbill
08-10-2012, 10:47 AM
The American Right has gone so deep into its Cave of Isolation that they can pull complete nonsense out of thin air and in all sincerity call it truth. The last ten years have been a strange and frightening adventure into the pathology of the human mind.

Alessandra Kelley
08-10-2012, 12:33 PM
The American Right has gone so deep into its Cave of Isolation that they can pull complete nonsense out of thin air and in all sincerity call it truth. The last ten years have been a strange and frightening adventure into the pathology of the human mind.

I'm sorry, that's too sweeping a statement. This was one person, and many conservative historians have called him out on it. (http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19820). His own publisher is withdrawing the book, with apologies.

The people who were listed as supporting him -- Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee -- were, I thought, illuminating as to the mindset his stories appealed to, rather than indicative of popular support.

Amarie
08-10-2012, 02:09 PM
But surely there's a place in literature for the amateur historian. I consider myself one, and self-published a book on that basis (listed in my signature). I say right up front in the Introduction that I'm an amateur. Barton should have done the same.

NDG

Yes, as long as the amateur historian uses original source material, documents the sources and doesn't leave out important sources that don't support the point the writer is trying to make. And getting the facts right, of course. :)

I know an amateur historian who writes about Civil War units from Ohio and his work is meticulous, which I find very impressive. And while he's an amateur historian, he makes a full time living writing these books, which I find equally impressive.

LindaJeanne
08-10-2012, 04:38 PM
This sort of fabrication is usually done for propaganda purposes, but what exactly is the intended propaganda?

There is a theocratic element that wants to make the idea of turning the U.S. into a theocracy more palatable by insisting that it's always been a theocracy -- but those darn crazy heathen liberals are trying to hide the truth from you.

Calla Lily
08-10-2012, 04:41 PM
*has horrific visions of The Handmaid's Tale*

Stacia Kane
08-10-2012, 05:29 PM
The Founding Fathers have acquired mythic status in the U.S., particularly Thomas Jefferson, so he's kind of like Jesus in that everyone likes to construct arguments promoting the idea that his political and social views would perfectly align with their own if he were alive today.

For the evangelicals, it's particularly significant because their underlying goal of eroding the separation between church and state and promoting an explicitly Christian government requires a lot of creative interpretation about the Constitution's intent and wording, and the motives of the men behind it.




This. The point is to "prove" that the Founding Fathers were devout Christians, and thus the US has always had a Christian government, so we should have one now.

James D. Macdonald
08-10-2012, 08:24 PM
One argument I've seen made by right-wing/fundamentalist writers for the US Constitutio (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html)n being "Bible-based" or "Christian" is that it uses the phrase "Year of our Lord."

Soccer Mom
08-10-2012, 08:32 PM
The American Right has gone so deep into its Cave of Isolation that they can pull complete nonsense out of thin air and in all sincerity call it truth. The last ten years have been a strange and frightening adventure into the pathology of the human mind.

No. Do not turn this into a liberal vs. conservative slugfest. This is not P&CE, this is about fact checking and nonfiction.

LaceWing
08-10-2012, 09:18 PM
Here's an article from the New York Times laying out the issues the Texas Board of Education put forward and mostly passed while developing the state curriculum.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=1 says
quote: (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Miss Plum
08-10-2012, 10:14 PM
I'm sorry, that's too sweeping a statement. This was one person, and many conservative historians have called him out on it. (http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19820). His own publisher is withdrawing the book, with apologies.

The people who were listed as supporting him -- Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee -- were, I thought, illuminating as to the mindset his stories appealed to, rather than indicative of popular support.
Not only that, but I want to know what is meant by "supporting him." Do they claim that his book is accurate? Do they have anything to say about his book at all? Or are they fellow religionists who just generally agree with him that "America needs to get back to God," that sort of thing?

Alessandra Kelley
08-10-2012, 10:28 PM
Not only that, but I want to know what is meant by "supporting him." Do they claim that his book is accurate? Do they have anything to say about his book at all? Or are they fellow religionists who just generally agree with him that "America needs to get back to God," that sort of thing?

I don't know. That article only said "supported."

However, I did find this video: Huckabee: Americans Should Be Forced, At Gunpoint, To Learn From David Barton (http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/huckabee-americans-should-be-forced-gunpoint-learn-david-barton).

That suggests Mike Huckabee has a certain level of support for David Barton's specific views.

Calla Lily
08-10-2012, 10:31 PM
:Jaw:

Shadow_Ferret
08-10-2012, 10:49 PM
This is all the fault of the Weekly World News (http://weeklyworldnews.com/). If their print edition hadn't gone belly-up, books like this would've had the perfect home. (The online-only edition is a sad ghost of its former glory.
What? Noooooooo! That was my favorite newspaper! Who will keep us informed about aliens and big foot?

Oh. Look. Romney is going to pick Bat Boy as his VP!

Austin Wimberly
08-10-2012, 10:51 PM
I live in Alabama, and recently the director of Alabama Public Television was fired for refusing to air a David Barton series that was being pushed on him by the Alabama Educational Television Commission.

Link (http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/06/alabama_public_television_boar.html)

Apologies if this doesn't go here. Wasn't sure, but since this is a thread about David Barton, I took a shot.

Jamesaritchie
08-11-2012, 12:18 AM
My goodness.

According to history writer (but not historian as he has no degree in history) David Barton (http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/157777697/cue-the-tape-how-david-barton-sees-the-world):

* The US Constitution directly quotes the Bible (It doesn't).

* More than half of the Founding Fathers went to Bible school (They had "Seminary" Degrees -- which at the time just meant they went to college).

* Congress printed a Bible (No, although they did let their chaplains proofread one for a Philadelphia printer).

* Congress recommended that the Bible be used in public schools (No, that was that same Philadelphia printer).

Oh -- and this person without a history degree claims that historians who disagree with his conclusions are jealous or liberal (http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/157754542/the-most-influential-evangelist-youve-never-heard-of?ps=comm&ec=mostpopular3col) (Shades of that recent story about Ann Romney (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=251713)!).

The Constitution does not directly quote the Bible, but like it or not, the Bible is the basis for much of what it contains. Which is neither here nor there. History being what it is, nearly every important historical document out there is based somewhat on the Bible.

And while a seminary degree is not "Bible school" it was pretty much exactly the same thing, and required almost exactly the same knowledge. It was certainly far more than "they just went to college."

Congress did not recommend that Bibles be used in public schools, but they didn't have to recommend this because Bibles were actually used in most schools, including those the Founding Fathers sent their kids to. Bibles, in fact, were still used in many public schools when I was a kid, and we had half an hour of Bible reading and praying each day.

Barton certainly got many things wrong, but it's even more idiotic to say the Founding Fathers did not base most decisions on the Bible, or that Congress in any way believed prayer and the Bible should not be in schools, Had they believed this, they wouldn't have allowed their own children to attend public schools where the Bible was used, and prayer was a daily activity.

It's also naive to think the Constitution, or any other document of the time, did not have the Bible as it's base. This was inevitable. It's perfectly logical to say the Founding Fathers were wrong, that those who did much the same thing for the same reasons in other countries of the time were wrong, but it's just idiotic to claim the Bible did not play an immense part in daily life, both private and public, and was not the basis for most beliefs and actions, in and out of government.

fadeaccompli
08-11-2012, 12:27 AM
The Constitution does not directly quote the Bible, but like it or not, the Bible is the basis for much of what it contains. Which is neither here nor there. History being what it is, nearly every important historical document out there is based somewhat on the Bible.

...do you mean "nearly every important historical document out there" in the sense of, say, historical documents written within the area now known as the United States after the arrival of dudes from England?

Because otherwise I'm going to have to curl up and twitch for a while.

Amadan
08-11-2012, 03:25 AM
It's also naive to think the Constitution, or any other document of the time, did not have the Bible as it's base.

Well, certainly everyone in a predominantly Christian culture will be steeped in and influenced by the Bible, but it's equally naive to claim, as you are, that the Constitution is "based on" the Bible. There were many obvious ways in which they explicitly did not follow Biblical law and did not invoke the Bible as their authority.


This was inevitable. It's perfectly logical to say the Founding Fathers were wrong, that those who did much the same thing for the same reasons in other countries of the time were wrong, but it's just idiotic to claim the Bible did not play an immense part in daily life, both private and public, and was not the basis for most beliefs and actions, in and out of government.

Good thing no one is saying that. No one thinks the Founding Fathers were Bible-hating atheists, James.

mscelina
08-11-2012, 03:53 AM
Wait a second--

You really expect me to believe that the Constitution of the United States is based on the Bible?

:roll:

*cough*

Um...no. If you wanted to opine, Mr. Ritchie, that the Bible was written by men who were raised in the Judeo-Christian culture, well, I probably wouldn't bother to respond. But let's be for real here--the Constitution isn't based on the Bible. If there is a document the Constitution is based on, it would probably be the Magna Carta--with a healthy dose of the classical Greek philosophers thrown in for fun. There's a reason the first words of the Constitution are "We the people" and not "Based on the word of God." After, Thomas Jefferson is the man who said:
"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched." -- Resolutions, 1803

and


Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded faith.

and


Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.

So let's not encourage the fallacy that the Constitution is "based" upon the Bible. I have yet to see any sections of the Constitution that came from the book of Ruth, and while there's a little too much of Paul in the ideology that formed that particular document, you'll find more in common with Montesquieu and the theories of John Locke than any book of the Bible. Any document that sets out from the onset the separation of Church and State isn't going to be based on the Bible.