First fake news, now fake history

Glen Beck

Glenn Beck (Credit: AP/Timothy D. Easley/ via Shutterstock/Photo montage by Salon)

If there are two characteristics that really define Trumpism, they are a total disregard for the importance of facts and a nostalgia for a mythical, vaguely defined time of American “greatness.” That makes the Trump era ripe for Glenn Beck’s ongoing project of creating and promoting his revisionist view of American history — one that valorizes straight white men as humanity’s natural leaders and grants Christian fundamentalism a centrality to American history that it does not, in reality, have.

Beck has been ramping up a program he runs with the pseudo-historian David Barton to peddle Barton’s fake history version of American history.

In Barton’s history, the Founding Fathers’ idea of government was rooted in fundamentalist Christianity, instead of Enlightenment philosophy, and the contributions of people of color are minimized in service of centering Christian white men as the righteous shepherds guiding everyone else. As Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported, the latest move by Barton and Beck is a two-week program, for $375 a head, that will teach their fake version of history to high school graduates before they head off to college so “they can then set their ignorant professors straight on the ‘real’ history of America.”

Beck isn’t subtle about his intention to give college professors headaches by filling their classrooms with fledging right-wing nuts spewing “alternative facts” about history. “Your kids will be challenged to go and find the documents to make the cases that they’re most likely going to have to make in college with their professors,” Beck said in his announcement. “I guarantee you the professors at college will have the wrong answer.”

The “wrong” answers, in this case, being the actual facts of history.

Barton, whose historical views are the ones Beck is pushing here, is pretty shameless about making stuff up if it suits his view that our country was meant to be a Christian theocracy and not a secular democracy. “For example, in his version of history, the founding fathers ‘already had the entire debate on creation and evolution,’ and chose creationism,” explained the Southern Poverty Law Center profile of Barton. “Reality check: Charles Darwin didn’t publish his theory of evolution in “The Origin of Species” until 1859, more than half a century after the founding fathers were active.”

This two-week program is part of a larger effort that Beck and Barton first proposed in 2012 for building a museum to market this fake version of history. That hasn’t quite happened, but they’ve cobbled together a pseudo-exhibit and a curriculum and are using those trappings to try to sneak Barton’s misinformation into high school and college courses.

If this sounds like the methods that Christian conservatives have been using to undermine the teaching of biology and to slip their views about creationism into classrooms, then congratulations on paying attention.


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