For all the attention being given to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell’s upset of long-time popular Congressman and former Delaware Governor Mike Castle for the GOP nomination for Joe Biden’s seat in the U.S. Senate, relatively little notice has been paid to fellow Tea Partier Glen Urquhart’s upset of the mainstream GOP favorite for the nomination to run for Delaware’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, vacated by Castle in his run for Governor.
That’s completely understandable, of course, since Castle was being counted as an unbeatable candidate in November’s general election, one that could be counted on in figuring the chances of the GOP regaining control of the U.S. Senate. Urquhart’s mainstream opponent was also favored to win in the Republican primary, but she was considered something of an underdog for the general election; and it’s far less likely, in any case, that this one seat in Congress would tip control to either party in the House of Representatives.
For educators, though, it’s worth noticing Urquhart as another instance of a movement to establish an ideologically driven false version of history both in the public consciousness, and in the schools. Here’s one example:
Urquhart actually tells his audience:
“So the next time your liberal friends talk about separation of Church and State, ask them why they’re Nazis.”
First, he asked if anybody in the room knew where “separation of Church and State” comes from. One guy said “I do … I know — but I’m the history teacher …” (He’s also a Republican party activist in southern Delaware, who happened also to be the person making the video that’s excerpted above.)
The history teacher started giving the correct answer — that this comes from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists — but Urquhart cut him off, and said that’s not where the phrase comes from, but that “the exact phrase” (in English, I wonder?) actually “came out of Adolf Hitler’s mouth.”
Actually, in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jefferson did in fact write:
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Most moderates and liberals aren’t even aware that this Hollywood-size script doctoring of U.S. history is taking place — and the political consequences may be enormous. George Orwell wrote that “who controls the past … controls the future.” Beck and his fans may reclaim a lot more than the legacy of 1960s civil rights this weekend — unless America’s too silent majority is finally ready to start fighting back for our past.
More recently, Beck has featured on Fox, at several well-attended “American Revivals” and on his web-based “university” a new right-hand man — David Barton, a key figure in the recent right-wing rewrite of Texas school textbooks — to teach his viewers the much-debunked idea that America’s creation was rooted in Christianity.
Barton’s machine-gun-paced spewing of 18th-century God references and black-robed revolutionary preachers gives less than short shrift to the real achievement of the Founders in separating church and state. In April, Barton told Beck’s 3 million TV viewers that “we use the Ten Commandments as basis of civil law and the Western world [and it] has been for 2,000 years.”
The results of this re-education campaign have been nothing short of phenomenal. A mere on-air endorsement by Beck of any obscure book — such as “Sacred Fire,” on the spirituality of George Washington — will propel it to the best-seller list. Now, thousands of fans have signed up for a paid “insider” package that includes an online Glenn Beck University with lectures by Barton and others.
But pseudo-history is having a real impact on current events. In Texas, the new school curriculum downgrades democracy-minded Thomas Jefferson as well as 1960s civil rights. In the political arena, some activists are pushing to repeal the 17th Amendment that allows people to elect U.S. senators directly — largely because the measure was enacted during Wilson’s progressive era.
- David Barton and the Texas Social Studies Standards
- Tea Party historical revisionism, and ignorance of real history (another video example)
- More posts on Texas and the Texas Social Studies Standards