Donald Trump is popular with voters but his treatment of the press is appalling. In addition to the alleged incident of assault involving a Breitbart reporter, Trump is being accused tonight of excluding a reporter who wrote an article about that incident.
Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger was denied admission to Trump’s speech after the GOP primaries tonight. According to a Politico report, Schreckinger was given credentials by email but was then denied them 10 minutes later. When he showed up at the event, he was escorted off the premises.
Schreckinger’s report reminded me that Trump’s campaign once provided press credentials to James Edwards, a white segregationist who covered a Trump event for his radio show, the Political Cesspool.
Trump has also said he would like to expand libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists for negative stories. Apparently, until he can get the laws changed, he is just going to strong arm those who write truth about him.
On Sunday, Politico published an enlightening article by Hope College psychology professor David Myers on the divide between Shia and Sunni Muslims. In the article Myers provides four points to help explain why people who share so many things in common are such enemies.
Myers also briefly illustrated his point with the historic Northern Ireland conflict between Protestants and Catholics. It occurred to me that on a lesser level, we see these conflicts arise all of time within Christianity. Charismatics and non-charismatics, Calvinists and Arminians, and so on share many points of agreement but war over the fewer differences. Myers article is well worth reading; his four basic points are:
1) No matter our similarities with others, our attention focuses on differences.
2) We naturally divide our worlds into “us” and “them,” ingroup and outgroup.
3) Discussion among those of like mind often produces “group polarization.”
4) Group solidarity soars when facing a common enemy.
Number three is a point which concerns me most about noticing differences. Such polarization can become especially hot if people fail to talk to those in the other camp. I see no problem with freedom of expression as long as we make sure everybody has it. We need to talk to each other rather than cloister and polarize further. Myers expresses it this way:
Turning today’s closed fists into tomorrow’s open arms requires recognizing the relative modesty of our differences, finding our deeper commonalities, defining a larger “us,” communicating across group lines and discovering transcendent goals.
Couple thousand likes in a couple of days is good, but if you want David to run, now is the time to like and share this page and get it up to 5K in the next few days. Get the word out!
By my calculations, at the present rate, he will get to 5,000 likes by about Saturday which I guess could qualify as “the next few days.”
Politico made the whole thing even more real with a story out yesterday, calling Barton “Ted Cruz 2.0.” The article also noted just how conservative John Cornyn is. Maybe there is a reason why the draft Barton movement doesn’t have the 5K likes by now. Mother Jones hits Barton hard on credibility issues while citing yours truly.
First Things’ Greg Forster weighs in on David Barton’s Traveling Medicine Show.
Glenn Beck says he called Barton three weeks ago and pitched the idea of a Barton primary run against John Cornyn. Barton’s response: “If the Lord tells me to do it, I’ll do it, but so far I haven’t heard.”
Yesterday’s Politico article by Stephanie Simon on evangelical support for David Barton could have been subtitled: Evangelicals Choose Pragmatism Over Truth.
In the last year, over 70 scholars (over 700 if you count the 650 votes The Jefferson Lies received for Least Credible History Book in Print) have expressed concerns about David Barton’s history. Most of those 70 scholars teach history or social science at conservative Christian colleges.* Yet, the Politico article reveals an approach to historical scholarship that is disturbing.
Stephanie Simon told the tale. Although I have some skepticism about Barton’s sunny disposition, he says he is back and better than ever. Evangelical Senator, and probable contender for the GOP presidential nomination, Ted Cruz said he was not in a position to opine on academic disputes. However, there is really no dispute about which to opine. The verdict has been in for some time. Thomas Nelson delivered it just over a year ago. As noted, multitudes of scholars have united to send the same message. Where are the scholars defending The Jefferson Lies, or the claim that Congress printed the first English Bible, or that the Constitution quotes the Bible “verbatim?” We don’t need Mr. Cruz to opine on a dispute, we need him to open his mind to reality. About Barton’s lessons, Cruz said:
David’s historical research has helped millions rediscover the founding principles of our nation and the incredible sacrifices that men and women of faith made to bequeath to us the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.
Doesn’t it matter that much of Mr. Barton’s “historical research” has been deemed to be off the mark? Mr. Cruz, aren’t you concerned in the least that these millions are now seriously misinformed? The same questions can be posed to Christian right organizations which use Barton’s work even though they know it is off the mark.
There is not even a question about the accuracy issue any longer. To their credit, the Family Research Council acknowledged that they removed the Capitol Hill video due to errors. And Focus on the Family felt the need to stealthily edit error-filled portions of Barton’s speeches. There are other aspects of the Focus broadcast (of which they are aware) that are incorrect; those remain a part of the broadcast.
Instead of integrity, accuracy, correction and stewardship, evangelical groups are openly discussing the value of content and consultants in utilitarian terms. If Mr. Barton can deliver a certain segment of evangelicals then the standards will be different for him. Mr. Barton gets a pass because he has a big audience and is perceived to be helpful politically.
In February of this year, I reflected on World magazine’s coverage of the Barton controversy and asked how evangelicals might respond. Now, I rephrase slightly.
World Magazine Politico has now put these matters on the front burner. My question is what will evangelicals do about it?
*Many more than 70 scholars have expressed concerns but some did not want to sign a letter or write an essay. Some were told not to do so by their college or university administration; others said they did not believe Christian political groups would listen. Perhaps they were right.