Even David Barton's Allies Have to Clarify His Statements

Glenn Beck and David Barton went on a rant last week about CSCOPE – a social studies program which is in most Texas schools. I watched part of it and if I didn’t know better, I would have been worried about communists coming to my doorstep in the form of CSCOPE curriculum writers.
At any rate, Barton had big slides of CSCOPE materials (some of it with DRAFT written on it) and illustrations of what had been removed and added by the comrades at CSCOPE. Apparently, the changes that Barton implied that CSCOPE had made and children were learning had not been included in the actual Texas curriculum. So says Barton ally Donna Garner.

At the end of David Barton’s presentation on the Glenn Beck Show, Barton clarified that the examples he presented are not in our new Social Studies TEKS.  I wish he had made this clear at the beginning of his presentation because I am afraid some viewers were left with the impression that Texas has retained those Type #2 elements in its standards. We have not.

Even though I disagree with some of Garner’s concerns over the curriculum, I understand why she wanted to clarify things. Numerous tweets warned of CSCOPE based on Barton’s presentation on Beck. There really wasn’t much news in what Barton presented but they played it up like the wolf was at the door.
Regarding CSCOPE, I feel sure there is another side to the story. One consequence of Barton’s poor history is that even people who might agree with some of what he says are compelled to doubt it until it can be checked out.  For instance, I am watchful when it comes to what is taught in school and have questioned how social studies and English is taught in schools where my children have attended. However, given Barton’s track record, I won’t believe a word until I check it out myself.
UPDATE: Must have been a slow news day at Beck’s place, because the CSCOPE people have already addressed the legislature’s concerns. For more on CSCOPE from their point of view, see their website.

David Barton Supports Texas Concealed Carry Gun Bill with Half the Story

The other half of the story undermines his position.
On his WallbuildersLive program today, David Barton got sidetracked from the topic of recess appointments and on to guns on campus. During a break in his discussion with Rick Green, a child read a citation from Thomas Jefferson where Jefferson said persons should be “at all times armed” (about 12:05 into the mp3). Barton got excited about those words which reminded him of something Jefferson had a hand in deciding regarding students at the University of Virginia.

Barton: I’m now intrigued with “at all times armed”
Green: Hey, we need to do a whole program on that.
Barton: Man!
Green: That’s a great example, you not only want to defend yourself from you know some attacker on the street, but a tyrannical government, hey just make sure everybody knows citizens are armed.
Barton: I gotta tell you, this happened just this week. We’re always looking through original documents, finding new things. It’s kind of like the Bible, the BIble describes itself as unsearchable to get to the bottom of all of the knowledge that’s there. Just this week, in looking at Jefferson and the University of Virginia, ’cause we’ve dealt with that in the book Jefferson Lies, going through that looking at what he did in teaching religion there. But we also found Jefferson, at the University of Virginia, required that every single student go through gun exercises at the University of Virginia. If you’re going to go to his university, you’re going to have to know how to use the gun, learn how to use the gun. You had to know how to be militia, they took you through military exercises as well. That’s kinda like an ROTC program; every single student.  And I thought, you know, we’re talking about here in Texas, doing something like campus carry or something else. Wouldn’t that drive the liberals crazy to find that Jefferson required every student on campus to go through gun training and  guns and use guns and etc.
Green: Man, that’s a great point. We gotta get that to our good friend Senator Birdwell, trying to get that done in Texas…
Barton: I did. I sent it to the Senate and House and said, ‘hey guys, here’s some ammunition for your “campus carry” bill.
Green: No pun intended, right? And now they can say, Jefferson wanted every kid on campus to be armed; we’re just asking for the ones that want to be.

I suspect what Barton is referring to is a section of the minutes of an October 24, 1824 meeting of the Visitors (trustees) of the University of Virginia where the Visitors decided the student code of conduct. In that section, there is a description of required military exercises:

A military instructor shall be provided at the expense of the University, to be appointed by the faculty, who shall attend on every Saturday from half after one o’clock to half after three p.m., and shall instruct the students in the manual exercise, in field evolutions, manoeuvres, and encampments. The students shall attend these exercises and shall be obedient to the military orders of their instructor. The roll shall be regularly called over by him at the hour of meeting, absences and insubordinations shall be noted and the list of the delinquents shall be delivered to the presiding member of the faculty, for the time being to be animadverted on by the faculty and such minor punishment imposed as each case shall in their discretion require. The school of modern languages shall be pretermitted on the days of actual military exercise.
Substitutes in the form of arms shall be provided by the proctor, at the expense of the University; they shall be distinguished by numbers delivered out, received in and deposited under the care and responsibility of the instructor in a proper depository to be furnished him; and all injuries to them by a student shall be repaired at the expense of such student.  (450-451)

As a means of getting exercise, students were required to drill and learn military maneuvers. Note that the guns (perhaps not even loaded guns – I am checking the meaning of the phrase “substitutes in the form of arms”) were to be owned and kept by the school, and not by the student. That students were not to have guns on campus was made clear several pages earlier in the report.
In addition to guidelines on exercise, the subject of gun possession on campus was addressed by the Visitors, and not in a way that supports the idea that students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. The report states:

No student shall within the precincts of the University introduce, keep, or use any spirituous, or vinous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder, keep a servant horse or dog, appear in school with a stick, or any weapon, nor while in school, be covered without permission of the professor, nor use tobacco by smoking or chewing on pain of any of the minor punishments at the discretion of the faculty or of the board of censors approved by the faculty. (p. 447)

A bit earlier in the minutes, the subject was first addressed:

No student shall admit any disturbing noises in his room, or make them anywhere within the precincts of the University, or fire a gun or pistol within the same on pain of such minor sentence as the faculty shall decree or approve. But the proper use of musical instruments shall be freely allowed in their rooms and in that appropriated for instruction in music. (p. 446)

Thus, the contention that being “at all times armed” had no exception is not accurate. The UVA code of conduct as drafted by Jefferson and his colleagues forbid guns on campus.
It will be interesting to see if Senator Birdwell uses Barton’s faulty information to support his bill, which, according to this report, would prohibit colleges from banning guns from campus when carried by licensed owners.
If such a bill had passed in Jefferson’s day, the UVA Visitors would have had to rewrite their rules.
In any event, the experiment in physical education via military drilling wasn’t a success. A UVA Alumni publication years later described the response and the demise of the program (see page 24).

The military company organized under this enactment continued in existence for several years. A uniform was prescribed and arms were provided. But the students, as a rule, detested the one and misused the other. Appearing out of uniform at unseasonable times and improper places was a frequent offence, and the admonitions and punishments inflicted on the offenders caused vehement complaints. The system at last became odious to all concerned, and Jefferson’s pet plan of securing the physical culture of his students was by solemn resolution abolished.

This passage gives a clue (although does not prove) that the guns were real guns. Note, however, the description of them being misused with the eventual outcome that the program was abolished. All told, Jefferson’s experiment at UVA isn’t a great foundation for talking points in favor of a concealed carry bill.

David Barton's Montana Prayer Breakfast Appearance Questioned in Helena Independent Record

Late yesterday, Sanjay Talwani revised and extended his rather uncritical reporting from Saturday concerning David Barton’s appearance at the Montana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. Citing John Fea and me, Talwani addressed the obvious historical problems in the speech but also addressed the issue of partisanship at what is supposed to be a non-partisan event.
It is hard to imagine a more partisan figure than Barton. His book Setting the Record Straight: History in Black and White slams the current Democratic party and lauds the GOP because of the role each party played in the Civil War era and beyond. In his book and this video, however, he fails to address the damage done by Goldwater’s lack of support for the Civil Rights Act and the subsequent “southern strategy” used by the GOP.
Continue reading “David Barton's Montana Prayer Breakfast Appearance Questioned in Helena Independent Record”

Thomas Jefferson on Reading the Bible in Schools

Recently, David Barton spoke at a Baptist Church and in his speech he talked about Abington Township vs. Schempp. He said the Supreme Court got it wrong, in part, because they relied on testimony of Dr. Grayzel who said kids would be psychologically damaged by Bible reading (about 15 minutes into part one).
Of course, the case is more complicated than that.
This post however is not to further debunk Barton on his statements about the Supreme Court ruling. Others have done that (Grayzel was referring to psychological harm to Jewish children). I must say, however, that there is a load of material in that sermon to the Glen Meadows Baptist Church.
Barton quoted Benjamin Rush and Fisher Ames (I am working on his claims about Ames) but there was a familiar founder he left out. Thomas Jefferson said in his Notes on the State of Virginia that school children should study history instead of the Bible. Even though he was an “Anglican gentleman” at the time, Jefferson gave advice contrary to some of his peers and apparently to what Barton wants to see happen.
Continue reading “Thomas Jefferson on Reading the Bible in Schools”

David Barton Tells Some Stories in Montana

According to the Helena Independent Record, David Barton delivered some predictable stories to the Montana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast earlier today.  Reporter Sanjay Talwani provides the high spots.
The two hour prayer meeting and Ben Franklin’s 14 verses (these wouldn’t be the first politicians to use religion for political purposes) are typically stretched and devoid of the rest of story. In fact, according to Franklin, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not following Franklin’s advice, thinking prayer unnecessary. Barton also told his standard legends about George Washington at Valley Forge and the Aitken Bible. It appears he made some of his usual claims about religion and the Constitution.
John Fea addresses the legendary Washington story and I take on the Aitken Bible here and here.
Barton criticized Coulter and me for debunking details which are not central to his arguments. However, the stories he tells are clearly central since he tells them just about wherever he goes.