No Windmills in Grove City

It is not often that Grove City College will be praised for their skeptical take on the world.  It is a noted conservative, Christian college just north of Pittsburgh that withdrew from all Federal funding in 1988 so that it did not have to comply with Title IX requirements with regard to gender equality.

In light of those events, I am very pleased to hear about Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter’s  refutation of David Barton’s take on Jefferson in their new book Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. The authors are on the faculty at Grove City College in Psychology and Political Science respectively.  Their e-book, just published last month is scathing take-down of the pseudo-historian David Barton recent book, The Jefferson Lies.

In a recent post The Quixotic Task of Debunking David Barton in the online magazine Religion Dispatches, Paul Harvey sums the up the multi-level problem with Barton:

[Throckmorton and Coulter] find without fail that the claims fall into one of the following categories:

1) complete falsehoods (there are plenty of those);

2) misleading falsehoods (such as the story about wanting Christian imagery on the national seal—true, but on the other side of the seal, had Jefferson gotten his wish, would have been a pagan story);

3) true, but entirely irrelevant and ultimately misleading statements (such as signing documents with “the Year of our Lord,” which he did because pre-packaged treaty forms had that language, and had about as much meaning as signing “Dear” in our salutations in letters to complete strangers);

4) statements with a “kernel” of truth but blown so far out of proportion as to end up being false (such as Jefferson wanting federal funding for Indian missions, when in fact the titles of the bills simply took on the name of already existing religious societies);

5) baffling assertions that are so far out of the realm of reality as to be neither “true” nor “false,” but simply bizarre (such as Barton’s defense of Jefferson’s views on race, which were disturbingly ugly even by the standards of his era).

Will it matter?  Probably not.  Barton is the new darling of right, whose views even Jon Stewart failed to challenge in his recent appearance on the Daily Show.

Still, it is nice to read that Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter at Grove City College, like John Fea at Messiah College, are willing to provide thoughtful critiques of off-the-wall writers, who make up historical lies for their own purposes.


About SamStone

A Steel City Skeptic who thinks science and reason is the light that we should follow to find our way in this world.
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4 Responses to No Windmills in Grove City

  1. revelmundo says:

    In an article published today (June 6) at Addicting Info, Barton claims that people are on welfare because they don’t read the bible and was said: “Wouldn’t it be interesting to do a study between those that are on welfare and see how much and how often they read the Bible,” Barton wondered. “You know, if Booker T. Washington is right that Christianity and reading the Bible increases your desires and therefore your ability for hard work; if we take that as an axiom, does that mean that the people who are getting government assistance spend nearly no time in the Bible, therefore have no desire, and therefore no ability for hard work? I could go a lot of places with this. I would love to see this proven out in some kind of sociological study, but it makes perfect sense.”

    The author of the piece, of course, tore his simple-minded (if “minded” is a word to use at all) logic to threads.

    Here again we have another fine example of the extent of Barton’s insanity.

  2. Michael Coulter says:

    Thanks for the post! Given that Barton rarely goes on ‘non-friendly’ tv/radio programs, it was truly disappointing that Stewart didn’t call out Barton on some of his outrageous claims.

  3. Adam says:

    This may be slightly tangential, but it’s worth noting that Grove City College’s issue with Title IX had to do with a resistance to federal bureaucracy, not any sort of desire to discriminate. The college had never accepted direct federal funding, and took issue with the government’s assertion of influence simply because some students independently obtained federal loans. In fact, Justice Powell stated, “I join the Court’s decision […] reluctantly and write briefly to record my view that the case is an unedifying example of overzealousness on the part of the Federal Government. […] The undisputed fact is that Grove City does not discriminate — and so far as the record in this case shows — never has discriminated against anyone on account of sex, race, or national origin. This case has nothing whatever to do with discrimination past or present.”

    The Wikipedia article makes brief mention of this, but I thought it might be useful to emphasize for anyone not familiar with the case.

  4. revelmundo says:

    Wonderful post!

    I read the Dispatch piece earlier this week and was very impressed. I also saw the Stewart interview and was very disappointed.

    Thanks for the effort to post this. More people MUST learn about what a fraud Barton is, not to mention a lying, ignorant asshole. That the media treats this idiot as anything less than a pathetic ignoramus speaks volumes about the state of general intelligence in this country.

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