God Is Definitely a Republican

This is a very strange history documentary hosted by Matthew and Laurie Crouch.  The show, including the over-the-top set is a cross between the 700 Club and Joel Osteen Ministries.  Mrs. Crouch is clearly playing the Tammy Fay Baker role, who along with her husband sit and nod in agreement.  Actually, she looks as if she is high as a kite.  David Barton offers a rather unusual analysis of Reconstruction that I will get to in a moment.  You can watch the entire series here – not that I recommend it.

Barton’s interpretation of Reconstruction basically comes down to pointing out that everything positive that happened relating to race relations and civil rights during Reconstruction and through the 1960s occurred because of the Republican Party.  The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan, overturned legislation passed during Reconstruction, and resisted the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.  There is a bit of truth in much of what Barton has to say about the importance of slavery, the role of black Republicans during Reconstruction as well as the role of the Democratic Party in overturning much of the post-war legislation.  However, Barton seems to think that the Republican Party of the 1860s and 70s is the same Republican Party of today.  According to Barton, the KKK was started by Democrats to “whack Republicans.”  Of course, Barton makes no mention of why blacks throughout much of the South transitioned to the Democratic Party in the 1930s, the Dixiecrat movement in 1948 or the fact that the president who pushed both landmark pieces of civil rights legislation was a Democrat.

12 thoughts on “God Is Definitely a Republican

  1. Robert Moore

    Oh gosh, this kind of thing drives me nuts. Just like when somebody uses the “party of Lincoln” thing today… it has to drive “Confederately attached” Southern Republicans crazy.

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      Cognitive dissonance or not, Barton’s entire presentation validates and reinforces the common conservative meme (explicitly articulated by Beck, Limbaugh, et al.) that it’s the Democrats who are the “real racists,” because they’re the ones who are always complaining about racism, discrimination, etc.

      Ever see Stephen Colbert’s “I’m colorblind” shtick? Folks like Barton would argue with a straight face that they are.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        I would actually like to figure out a way to use a video like this in the classroom. I’ve been playing around with a course that would explore various examples of pseudo- or just really bad examples of history that you can find on the Internet, on the news, etc.

        Reply
      2. Bruce Miller

        Andy Hall’s comment that this is a variation of the Republican Party claim from Rush Limbaugh and others that Democrats are the “real racists.” In this version, Barton seems to contradict the Lost Cause article of faith that slavery had nothing to do with the Confederate revolt. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he also argues elsewhere that it was some other cause, like Yankee Fanaticism in the abstract or who knows what that actually caused the Civil War. Among the authoritarian right to which Barton pitches his pseudohistory, screaming contradictions often seem not to be a problem.

        This kind of weird pitch that makes the case for a role reversal is a favorite thing among hardline conservatives. Like Glen Beck arguing that Martin Luther King, Jr., would have supported Arizona’s new don’t-even-*learn*-about-brown-people law banning ethnic studies.

        This is an intriguing puzzle for me. To take it seriously, you have to convert historical events into purely abstract slogans, or something functionally equivalent. The Republicans Party today after four decades of the “Southern Strategy” scarcely resembles that Party’s previous positions on race, either in 1875 or 1965. It seems to me it more a way of sneering at minorities, in this case African-Americans, than of trying to make a serious historical or even ideological argument.

        I don’t fully understand that phenemenon. But I’ve gotten to the point where bizarre contradictions existing side-by-side in that brand of thought don’t much surprise me any more, though it’s important to recognize as a characteristic of authoritarian politics and ideology.

        Reply
  2. Ken Noe

    I think you mean “Crouch,” not” Grouch.” As for David Barton, he was until recently Vice Chairman of the GOP in Texas. He’s also the guy who was in the news recently for using phony ‘quotations’ from the Founding Fathers in his books, something he eventually owned up to on his website (although he still defends them as “consistent” with their views).

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Thanks Ken. Here is the website for anyone who is interested: http://www.wallbuilders.com/ That’s too funny. His claim that the phony quotations are consistent with the FF’s views is consistent with his broader understanding of historical analysis. That made my day.

      Reply
  3. Kelli Nelson

    Barton also neglects to mention that the first African American president of the U. S. is a Democrat. This would force him to admit that something has changed in the political parties since Reconstruction.

    Reply
  4. Craig Swain

    I don’t think either Dems or Reps have a lock on the claim of “The party of Civil Rights.” Certainly not as things stand in 2010. To the contrary, most of the advances in Civil Rights were achieved by those working outside the established party system in order to prod lawmakers. What we should be highlighting is not the efforts of one party over another, but the achievements gained where both parties have worked toward common goals. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was bi-partisan, with substantial support on the Republican side as well as the Democrats. And the act which finally put some teeth to the enforcement, in 1968, even more so. If anything, the split was sectional (still), and not due to party affiliation. I’d argue that the sectional divide has long since faded. Through the 1980s, 1990s, and the current decade, legislation supported by both parties has provided further mechanisms to ensure civil rights and liberties are not violated. We the people have pushed them to those actions.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Craig,

      I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said here, especially re: the role of ordinary Americans during the civil rights movement. Thomas Sugrue’s new book, “Sweet Land of Liberty” has been a real eye-opener in terms of how this played our in the North.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Miller

      Sadly, when it comes to matters of race, the sectional divide is very much with us. Given the latest legal antics by the Arizona Governor and legislature, its a good reminder why Arizona is one of the two states outside the Old Confederacy in which the entire state still falls under the monitoring provisions of the Civil Rights Act. (Alaska is the other.)

      Unfortunately, it’s not freely available online. But this article by Nicholas Valentino and David Sears reports on their study about white racism in Southern voting patterns: “Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan Realignment in the Contemporary South” *American Journal of Political Science* 49:3 (July 2005). They concluded not only that appeals to white racism among Southern white voters played a decisive role in the shift of national voting patterns to the Republican Party since the mid-1970s. They also write, “We would conclude that racial conservatism seems to continue to be central to the realignment of Southern whites’ partisanship since the Civil Rights era.”

      Reply

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