David Barton, who critics call a “Christian nationalist history revisionist,” comes off more as smooth-talking history buff than fiery evangelist.
Among the panel of experts appointed to guide the Texas textbook standards writing process, Barton is probably the most committed right-wing activist. He served as vice-chair of the Texas GOP for many years. He was responsible for the uproar over deletion of a reference to Christmas that the chair of the board of education tried to tamp down first thing this morning.
And when his turn to speak came at the hearing on new history textbook standards in Austin today, Barton was the only expert to bring along a slideshow.
Apparently to prove his academic bona fides despite lack of credentials, Barton, president of WallBuilders, rapidly flipped through a PowerPoint highlighting important moments in what he calls the “chains” of history. That concept was illustrated with literal chains:
Along with the slideshow, Barton brought along items from his collection of historical artifacts — “all originals,” he said — and displayed them in the hearing room. They include the Bibles above and this John Quincy Adams poem on Pslam 104 (pictures by Val Benavidez of the Texas Freedom Network).
The less conservative members of the board allowed Barton to give his presentation and say his piece without much, if any, cross-examination. But the conservative majority couldn’t pass the chance to celebrate their self-taught expert.
Board member David Bradley, last seen calling out President Obama for his indoctrination speech, gushed that Barton is able to identify every figure in a famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Another member, Barbara Cargill, decried the “reference to US imperialism — propaganda is the word used” in the draft of high school history textbook standards. “Our students have to learn about American exceptionalism and how unique our country is,” she pleaded to Barton, asking him to hold forth on how best to “take out the negatives.”
Barton complied: “There are definitely warts on the nose of America, but despite those, we’ll still take America over any other system.”
The board broke for lunch without addressing the Newt Gingrich clause we’ve been telling you about. But if anything happens on that front, we’ll let you know.
Late Update: Here’s the video of Cargill wondering how to take out the “negatives” from US history. (As you watch, keep in mind this board has an outsized influence on textbooks nationally.)