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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
December 1, 2023

Tim Alberta: The Bogus Historians Who Teach Evangelicals They Live in a Theocracy


I had never seen a sanctuary so full on a Tuesday night.

The people packed into FloodGate Church in Brighton, Mich., weren’t here for Bill Bolin, the right-wing zealot pastor who’d grown his congregation tenfold by preaching conspiracy-fueled sermons since the onset of Covid-19, turning Sunday morning worship services into amateur Fox News segments. No, they had come out by the hundreds, decked out in patriotic attire this October evening in 2021, to hear from a man who was introduced to them as “America’s greatest living historian.” They had come for David Barton. And so had I.

It would be of little use to tell the folks around me — the people of my conservative hometown — that Barton wasn’t a real historian. They wouldn’t care that his lone academic credential was a bachelor’s degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University. It wouldn’t matter that Barton’s 2012 book on Thomas Jefferson was recalled by Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher, for its countless inaccuracies, or that a panel of 10 conservative Christian academics who reviewed Barton’s body of work in the aftermath ripped the entirety of his scholarship to shreds. It would not bother the congregants of FloodGate Church to learn that they were listening to a man whose work was found by one of America’s foremost conservative theologians to include “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”

All this would be irrelevant to the people around me because David Barton was one of them. He believed the separation of church and state was a myth. He believed the time had come for evangelicals to reclaim their rightful place atop the nation’s governmental and cultural institutions. Hence the hero’s welcome Barton received when he rolled into FloodGate with his “American Restoration Tour.”

Throughout his decades of public life — working for the Republican Party, becoming a darling of Fox News, advising politicians such as new House Speaker Mike Johnson, launching a small propaganda empire, carving out a niche as the American right’s chosen peddler of nostalgic alternative facts — Barton had never been shy about his ultimate aims. He is an avowed Christian nationalist who favors theocratic rule; moreover, he is a so-called Dominionist, someone who believes Christians should control not only the government but also the media, the education system, and other cultural institutions. Barton and his ilk are invested less in advancing individual policies than they are in reconceiving our system of self-government in its totality, claiming a historical mandate to rule society with biblical dogma just as the founders supposedly intended.

November 22, 2023

Trump Rallies are Tutorials in Hate, Vulgarity, and Disrespect


“MOM, I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD SEE THIS. You should leave the room.”

That was my younger son, age 7 or 8, purportedly trying to “protect” me years ago from a risqué music video on MTV.

We were relatively permissive parents. The boys watched MTV and The Simpsons from an early age—so many episodes of the latter so many times each that even now, in their thirties, both of them can spout the perfect bit of dialogue to fit any occasion, no matter how surreal. I see now they were right—that show was hilariously and cuttingly on the nose about everything.

I thought of all this while reading a Washington Post account of a Donald Trump rally in Iowa. I thought I knew what these rallies were like: I watched one start to finish back in 2016 and since then I’ve read many verbatim transcripts of Trump rallies and speeches. And I thought I knew Iowa and its unique political culture: I spent much of the 1990s and 2000s covering its liberal peaceniks, conservative Christians, caucuses and straw polls. I figured that, like many journalists and Americans in general, I was shockproof after eight years of Trump, though I’ve tried hard to avoid becoming numb or bored or exhausted.

Hannah Knowles has proved I am not shockproof. Her Post story about Trump’s rally in Fort Dodge on Saturday is, in fact, a continuing series of new shocks. That’s because her focus is not only on Trump but on the people who came to see him, and their children. Brace yourself:

Children wandered around in shirts and hats with the letters “FJB,” an abbreviation for an obscene jab at President Biden that other merchandise spelled out: “Fuck Biden.” . . .

One of Trump’s introductory speakers from the Iowa state legislature declared anyone who kneels for the national anthem is a “disrespectful little shit,” quickly drawing a roaring response. And outside the packed venue, vulgar slogans about Biden and Vice President Harris were splashed across T-shirts: “Biden Loves Minors.” “Joe and the Ho Gotta Go!” One referred to Biden and Harris performing sexual acts.

November 12, 2023

Mass Murder Is a Choice. The Gun Industry Made It


No paywall

A WEEK AFTER THE MASSACRE in Lewiston, Maine, left 18 dead, 13 wounded, and a swath of New England terrorized and on lockdown, the gun industry was thinking about its bottom line.

During a Nov. 1 quarterly-earnings call, Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy touted the company’s profits, and the sales boost from new products like its SFAR — a “small-frame auto-loading rifle,” chambered to fire devastating, high-caliber bullets.

The firearms press is enamored with this new assault rifle, touting it as “easy to carry, fast to the shoulder, and packing the punch of an old-school .30-caliber battle rifle.” But had that deadly punch just been turned on civilians at a bowling alley and billiards bar in Lewiston? Law enforcement recovered a Ruger SFAR from the getaway vehicle of the military-trained shooter, Robert R. Card II, and the arrest warrant for Card highlighted “numerous rifle cartridges” scattered “throughout the premises” of both murder scenes.

Killoy did not mention the killings, directly. But he did address analysts who wanted to know if the company was picking up signals of a buying surge, based on the events of “the last 30 days” — encompassing both Lewiston and the Hamas assault on civilians in Israel. “There may be some good demand signals coming,” Killoy advised shareholders. “For all the wrong reasons, perhaps.”


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