Thursday, August 9, 2012

David Barton and Ayatollah Khomeini agree...

Day one of the new house. Landline internet and a desktop for the fist time in many years. I heard a story about David Barton on NPR yesterday. Pretty hostile tone, "not a historian etc." It brings to mind the critiques of Jonah Goldberg when he wrote "Liberal Fascism". I'm not sure what exactly a "real historian" is. Those in the ivory tower of academia seem just as likely as a lay person ignore evidence which conflicts with an emotional attachment to a position.

Steph and I ar trying to decide where to send the kids, or if we will send them at all, to school. We are enrolled in the K-12 Virtual Academy for Xander, thus the desktop computer, but planning to visit Miami Valley Academy next Friday. Dayton-Christian is less than a mile away and our home district is pretty decent.

The David Barton piece on NPR caught my attention because he was apparently involved in a change to the Texas primary school curriculum in 2010. Barton seeks to restore the strong role of the Bible in the Founding Fathers documents and day-to-day lives.

This is a very touchy subject in America. Having been subjected to a nearly useless American education I tend to think that whatever changes Barton is advocating and implementing can only be an improvement. I am a historian by education. I am baffled by the notion of whitewashing history to fit the current ideological undertone of the culture.

Religion is irrelevant in this debate. Whether one is a Muslim, Christian, Atheist or Hindu one is not served by the fallacy that the founding fathers were anything but Bible believing Christians. I do not believe in the infallibility of any religious text per se and this is where I would most likely differ from Barton or any orthodox believer. But to pretend that Christianity was not a massive underlying force in the creation of the United States is akin to deleting Gandhi from the Indian independence movement or Islam from the Iranian revolution of 1979.

We will differ on our religious and political beliefs forever. Let's not succumb to the temptation to rewrite history whenever the culture shifts. Just as the uprisings in the 60's were a backlash against the pervasive Judeo-Christian norms in a Euro-Centric West so too is the Evangelical backlash in the United States a rightful uprising against the Orwellian effacing of Christian texts from the teaching of history.

Even the most dyed in the wool Atheist must concede that parts of the United States Constitution were taken from the Old Testamant. In an era of Islamophobia it is perhaps unpalatable to acknowledge that Sharia may have existed in the United States for over 200 years.

According to Wikipedia:

Sharia, in its strictest definition, is a divine law, as expressed in the Qur'an and Muhammad's example (often called the sunnah).

If this horrendous affront to civilization called Sharia is to be exterminated it would not behoove those in the camp advocating such a policy to acknowledge that U.S. law, specifically the Constitution may in fact be a form of Sharia.

The apparent irony here is that in my mind it is the liberals who are opposed to the notion that the U.S. may have religious ancestry in its legal system but open to the acceptability of a religious based legal system in other cultures. Conservatives, on the other hand, strenuously advocate:

1. The infallibility of teh Bible and the Constitution 2. The interconnectedness of those two documents. 3. The inherent dangers of Sharis (creeping Sharia) being established in the middle ease, Europe and America.

Is it safe to assume that those who advocate Sharia in the middle east would not agree that the United States has a form of Sharia in place? Are David Barton and Ahmendinajad really ideological allies and would either of them be comfortable with such a characterization?

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