Guest post by Chris Rodda
OK, I’m about to do what will either be the smartest or the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.
After watching Jon Stewart’s interview of pseudo-historian David Barton last night, and the extended interview online this morning, I wasn’t sure what to do. Jon did as good a job as he could against the fast talking Barton — better than anyone else I’ve seen debate this very slick character — but missed several opportunities to really nail him.
After nine years of battling Barton’s lies, the first three or four of which were spent writing my book, Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History, I’m at a point of utter frustration as I watch this Christian nationalist liar get more and more influential. Jon Stewart’s interview was the tipping point. If Jon couldn’t nail this shameless and obvious history revisionist to the wall, I don’t know who can.
A lie can be told in a few words. Debunking that lie can take pages. That is why my book, (which is only the first volume of what will be a three volume series), is five hundred pages long. Nobody is going to be able to adequately prove to any audience that Barton’s lies are lies in an interview like Jon Stewart did last night, and David Barton is never going to agree to debate anyone that he knows can defeat him.
A few hours ago, I was about to sit down at my computer to do my usual thing — write about the Daily Show interview, and debunk the specific lies that Barton was able to get in. But instead I found myself staring at the big Ben Franklin poster on my wall, and changed my mind. Sure, I could write about the particular snippets of disinformation and dishonesty that spewed forth from Barton during this particular interview, but what good would that do? Been there; done that. Then, staring up at the face of Ben Franklin, it was his words, “Do well by doing good,” that suddenly popped into my head.
“Do well by doing good” — the words of a man who could have become outrageously wealthy by patenting his inventions, but decided to just let everybody have them for the public good — have now been stuck in my head for hours, and aren’t going to leave until I do what I’m about to do — give my book away for free.
Can I afford to do this? No. Do I need to do this? Yes! Will lots of people download it and read it? I have no freakin’ idea. It’s just what I need to do to bee able to look Ben Franklin in the eye on that poster on my wall.
If you haven’t seen it already, please watch the Daily Show interview, particularly the online extended interview. Then download my book and read it, or watch the videos on my website. I’ll be outside on this beautiful spring day playing with my dog, knowing that I’ve now done everything I possibly can to fight the scourge of David Barton.