Yesterday, Right Wing Watch posted some audio of David Barton lamenting his status as white, Christian male. Want to understand white privilege? Today’s lesson is brought to us by Mr. Barton. On the American Pastor’s Network radio show, Barton said (audio posted by RWW):
Every item in the Bill of Rights is given to every individual, it’s not given to groups, but today, the Supreme Court says the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the majority. Now how stupid is that? Because I’m in the majority as a white guy, do I not get the right to a trial by jury, do I not get the right to free speech? No, because I’m in the wrong group. And so, what happens is even back in 1992, in a Supreme Court case I was involved with, the court at the time created classes of religions and if you’re in Christianity, that’s the biggest religion so we give you the least protection. But if you’re in a small religion, we’ll give you more protection than anyone else.
Keep calm and speak freely, Mr. Barton; you have all your First Amendment rights. Even though you are a white Christian, you can have a trial by jury if ever you need one. What hubris to think minorities have it better than you. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate white Christian privilege than these statements.
Surely, Mr. Barton has read the Federalist papers. It appears he disagrees with Madison who wrote in #51:
It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.
There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority that is, of the society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority.
In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects.
Madison (also in #10) expressed confidence that the U.S. system would protect the rights of minorities from the state and from the majority. In the quote above, Madison wrote that “Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens.” Madison was not as troubled by discussing the interests of “groups” as Barton is. Instead of complaining that the majority had fewer rights, Madison expressed concern that minority rights could be “insecure.”