"Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future." - George Orwell, 1984
Politicians lie all the time, this we know. But what's addressed here is different--a determined ongoing campaign to overwrite the historical record with carefully crafted history lies designed to steer America away from democratic, secular pluralism and towards Christian supremacy.
Let's start here:
Would Michele Bachmann lie about her family genealogy to seem more "Iowan", presumably to impress state residents who might attend the upcoming February 2012 Iowa caucus, that will help establish front-runners, in both major political parties, in the 2012 presidential race?
Well, sure. As Chris Rodda, Head Researcher for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of Liars For Jesus - The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History details, Bachmann just did so.
But this isn't surprising given that, as Rodda describes, back in 1987 Michele Bachmann worked as a research assistant for one of the seminal books in the growing genre of Christian nationalist falsified American history works packed with history lies that are seeping into JROTC curriculum, PBS documentaries, the National Prayer Breakfast, and political discourse within the Republican Party [If you want to understand more about the impact of these books, see Frederick Clarskon's History is Powerful - Why the Christian Right Distorts History and Why it Matters.]
Many of the current Republican front runners expected to seek their party's nomination to run for president in 2012, notably Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich, are aggressively courting David Barton, the reigning crown prince of this oeuvre of pseudo-history that's chock full of distortions, myths, and outright lies which serve to advance the claim that America was originally founded as a Christian nation rather than as a secular republic.
In 2010 Fox talk show host Glenn Beck rolled out an ongoing weekly series featuring David Barton's history lies, which prompted Chris Rodda to kickoff an ongoing series of posts debunking the lies that Beck was broadcasting out to millions of credulous viewers.
Mike Huckabee, recently grilled about his praise for Barton's work by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, feels so strongly about it that at a recent Christian supremacist conference former Arkansas governor Huckabee joked that he wishes every American could be forcibly indoctrinated with Barton's teachings - indoctrinated at gunpoint if necessary. Strong words for a man aspiring to the presidency of the United States, especially in light of the growing power of the position, which some observers characterize as the "imperial presidency."
Michele Bachmann and other leading Republican presidential hopefuls have stood onstage with and lavished praise on Barton, who seems to endorse "Biblical slavery" and whose organization's website favorably quotes radical-Free Market theologian R.J. Rushdoony, a racist Holocaust revisionist known for his denunciation of miscegenation (race-mixing, that is).
Does David Barton endorse the ideas of R.J. Rushdoony? Do any of the current Republican presidential hopefuls? They would no doubt deny it, because Rushdoony's ideas were (and are) wildly controversial and highly offensive to most Americans.
But as I covered in a January 2008 Talk To Action story, while he was governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee employed a prominent Christian Reconstructionist as a policy adviser. That's not the only data point. In an April 12, 2010 Religion Dispatches post, RD editor Sarah Posner covered Huckabee's numerous links to Christian Reconstructionists and their movement, ties also noted by observers across the political spectrum from Joe Conason of Salon.com to Robert Novak of the Washington Post.
Christian Reconstructionism usually gets noticed for its more atavistic aspects, such as the advocacy by some leading Reconstructionists (including R.J. Rushdoony) of "Biblical stoning" (or burning at the stake) as capital punishments for astrology and witchcraft, idolatry, blasphemy, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality", un-chastity before marriage (by women), apostasy (renunciation of the faith), and "incorrigible juvenile delinquency".
As Walter Olson wrote in a delightfully sardonic and quite informative 1998 article published in Reason magazine, Invitation To A Stoning,
Reconstructionists provide the most enthusiastic constituency for stoning since the Taliban seized Kabul. "Why stoning?" asks [Gary] North. "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." Thrift and ubiquity aside, "executions are community projects--not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his' duty, but rather with actual participants." You might even say that like square dances or quilting bees, they represent the kind of hands-on neighborliness so often missed in this impersonal era.
But Christian Reconstructionism also involves a sweeping vision for the economic restructuring of society, under its radically libertarian, theocratic vision for "Biblical Capitalism", as author Rachel Tabachnick explains in an ongoing Talk To Action series, starting with Biblical Capitalism - The Religious Right's War on Progressive Economic Policy. Here are parts 2 and 3 of the series. Part four, Rushdoony's Theocratic Libertarianism at Work in the Nation's Statehouses, covers the spread of Christian Reconstructionist-inspired legislation at the state level.
You can watch David Barton expressing Biblical capitalism ideas in this video, compiled by Kyle Mantyla of People For The American Way's Rightwing Watch, in which Barton makes the claim that Biblical scripture prohibits a capital gains tax.
Meanwhile, back to Michele Bachmann--a veritable grande dame of the falsified history movement, it would seem. As Chris Rodda explains,
In her speech at the March 24 and 25 Rediscover God in America conference in Iowa, Michelle Bachmann, like the other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates who spoke at this conference, lavished praise on their fellow speaker, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton. Bachmann also revealed that her involvement in the history revisionism game goes back even further than her association with Barton. As a student at Oral Roberts University, she met John Eidsmoe, and worked as a research assistant on his 1987 book, Christianity and the Constitution. Eidsmoe is another Christian nationalist history revisionist, whose Christianity and the Constitution book predates the first edition of Barton's book The Myth of Separation by a year. In fact, some of Barton's lies are adaptations of Eidsmoe's lies and half-truths, a number of which are debunked in my book. But I had no idea that Bachmann had been involved with Eidsmoe or his book until she talked about it at the Rediscover God in America conference, or that it was Eidsmoe who introduced her to Barton's material.... But Bachmann's admiration of history revisionists wasn't the thing that really caught my attention in her speech at the conference...
Rodda goes on to provide a detailed debunking of Michele Bachmann's self-described "Iwegian" (Iowan Norwegian) roots. As Rodda concludes, back in 2008 when it was more politically advantageous to do so, Bachmann stressed her Minnesota family roots which, now it would seem, aren't as desirable for the presidential hopeful, who now has morphed into an "Iwegian":
during her 2008 campaign for reelection in Minnesota, when it was more advantageous for her to be a Minnesotan, her campaign website emphasized her Minnesota roots with a section on its "About" page titled "Rooted in Minnesota," which began, "Michele grew up in Anoka."
If Bachmann's presidential aspirations don't work out and she has settle for running for reelection to Congress, I wonder how her constituents in Minnesota will feel about her denouncing her Minnesota roots in favor of being an Iowan.
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