At her Texas Senate Nominations Committee hearing last month, State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill made a number of commitments should her appointment to a second term be confirmed. (It was.) Among those was a commitment to beef up qualifications required for individuals appointed by SBOE members to serve as “expert” advisers during the revisions of curriculum standards for Texas public schools. But perhaps it would be good to know just how Cargill defines “expert.”
During her hearing, Cargill offered an example of someone she thinks is a true history expert: David Barton, the pseudo-historian who founded the Texas-based advocacy organization WallBuilders. Barton, whose bachelor’s degree was in religious education, has made a living by running around the country claiming that our nation’s Founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its laws and government based on Christian biblical principles. Distinguished (and exasperated) historians have repeatedly said such claims are a gross distortion based on an ideological conviction, not facts.
In any case, when asked during her hearing about proposals for various qualifications that should be required of “experts,” Cargill had this to say about Barton:
“One of the experts that we used for social studies has worked in the field of history for decades, but his degree is not in social studies. But I would consider him a leading historian of our state, if not the nation…. I certainly want access to the David Bartons, and I’m sure many of you are familiar with him. He can rattle off historical facts and etcetera in an amazing way.”
As the video above points out, Barton’s version of “facts” is so distorted that he says things like this:
“It is absolutely no surprise that so many of the clauses we find in the Constitution are literal, direct quotations out of the Bible…. Check the language of the Constitution against the Bible, and you go, ‘that is an exact quote.’”
That’s not true. Our friends at Right Wing Watch have caught Barton spreading this falsehood numerous times, including here, here and here. And if that’s not bad enough, Barton has now admitted that he gets some of his history “facts” from Western novelist Louis L’Amour. Seriously.
David Barton is “a leading historian of our state, if not the nation”? Oh sure. And dentist Don “Somebody Has to Stand Up to Experts” McLeroy must be “a leading biologist,” too. Right?