Does conservative historian, David Barton, resemble a six-foot tall papier-mâché piñata? I think he must, at least to the far left, as they have made him one of their favorite targets. Perhaps we should not be surprised. Lately, piñata politics have made national headlines http://nation.foxnews.com/nikki-haley/2012/05/22/union-leader-bashes-nikki-haley-pinata and become a popular way for progressives to communicate their message. (I suppose that the subtle nuance of bumper stickers is lost on a large percentage of their target audience, so a more basic approach was required.)
The fact is piñata politics is not just about beating the snot out of your target literally (or figuratively in this case); no, the purpose is to lower the “argument” below the level of ideas to strike with violent intent and to intimidate the opposition. Recently, Barton was listed among domestic terrorists by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an influential but far-left organization. I think this criticism of Barton is utterly bazaar, especially if one considers the some of the others on this list. The Black Panthers, for example, are categorized by this list as a far right wing group. Really? The only way Mr. Barton is a “domestic terrorist” is the obvious terror he creates for progressive revisionist groups who have spent decades slandering the Founders with few historians ever questioning their sanity or ill intent. The purpose of these recent attacks may be explained by Saul Alinksy in his book, Rules for Radicals, which asserts that the truth is irrelevant — only the perception of truth matters.
There appears to be a growing need for Marxist-leaning groups to either claim the Founders as one of their own, or to engage in character assassination. It should be heartening (on some level) that many of the far-left have chosen to claim them. It is more evidence that progressives have been unable to erase the Founder’s relevance in most American’s lives, so the trend has been to co-opt them and their faith.
Those who wish to portray the Founders as strident atheists will cite Thomas Paine, (as he indeed became an atheist later in his life), and ignore many other Founders as they frame their argument. Jefferson, whose religious beliefs were complex and evolved throughout his life, is often cited by these leftist groups as an example of the Founders’ unbelief. However, whenever given the opportunity, Jefferson supported and encouraged the free expression of Christianity during his life. For those who have actually taken the time to read the Founders words and their private correspondence, it is impossible not to conclude that the vast majority of them were a deeply religious group. Perhaps the far left should start looking with a greater critical eye toward Marxist historical “fiction” writers like Howard Zinn, before they criticize Barton for having the audacity to use the Founders’ own words to present them and their original intent within a Christian context.