Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Honesty

That's a powerful word.  It fueled several spankings from my Dad before I got the message.  Besides that, it has a way of helping people characterize others.

I remember, as a boy, watching the John Wayne movies, the Roy Rogers movies and TV shows and so forth, and I remember that one overriding theme in those movies was about honesty.  A man's word was his currency, literally.  There are, in the American heartland, places where business is still done on a handshake, on the basis of a person's (we include women now, you know) reputation as honest and forthright in their dealings with others.  Primary in this environment of trust is honesty.

The idea is that if one is going to be doing business with others, either professional or personal, it is expected that you will honestly represent yourself in word and deed, and if circumstances change, those changes will again, be honestly represented to those you are dealing with.  You will pay your bills, meet your obligations, and represent the dealings of others with you to third parties honestly as well.

There's a common misunderstanding in the United States regarding the Ten Commandments, that one of them deals with honesty, and forbids lying.  (Often mischaracterized as, "thou shalt not lie")

This isn't true.  The actual wording in many translations is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness", which has been sloppily colloquialized as "thou shalt not lie".

The meaning of the real phrase is about testimony in front of a magistrate, and this is attested to by many biblical scholars.  It is a critical rule in maintaining the integrity of a legal system.  If people are willing to lie to magistrates, that makes their job harder.  Of course, one can still argue that it still means not to lie in general, and that is a good point.

The problem is, too dang many folks don't seem to pay any attention to this idea, in either sense of the phrase.

Case in point, Rick Green.

Rick is a henchman of David Barton, the (in)famous christian "historian" who has been writing books, making speeches and generally making a pest of himself to real historians in his attempts to (mis)characterize the US as a historically christian nation.

Recently, Barton's latest book, which I will not promote here by naming it, has been dumped by his publisher for being too full of, well, lies.  the publisher didn't say that, exactly, so as not to get sued I am sure, but that is the point, as well documented by Chris Rodda.

Rick Green, on his blog, which I will also not promote here, mounted a challenge:
If you can show me specifics that back up the image created by the critics innuendo, I’ll post it right here for the world to see.
As the days wore on, it became obvious that Rick had no intention of doing any such thing, comments got stuck "in moderation" - especially Chris' comment, which addressed a specific case in Barton's book.

Soon, the comments by Chris' supporters, which she jokingly called "minions" (of which I am one) got to be so loud and persistent, he gave in, posted her comment and released the moderation from the page.  Her post about that scenario is here.

Then he posted another page, in which he said this in a subtitle:
Why the clanking cymbals and blathering nonsense of some critics does not answer my challenge for specific proof that any premise in David Barton’s book about Thomas Jefferson is inaccurate…
Further, he said this about Chris, specifically:
But since I did issue a challenge and ask for people to give me specifics, I am gladly recommending to you Ms. Rodda’s book because it is further evidence of EMPTY criticism that reminds me of clouds without rain. I’ll even provide a link here to her website, but I will not post her generalized accusations that have no actual evidence. If you read her book and in comparison to Barton’s book you are persuaded by her, then congrats to her! That’s the beauty of the arena of ideas! 
Chris devotes her time and efforts in a valiant effort to expose Barton's lies and deceit for what they are, and succeeds admirably, in a very scholarly, concise way.  Here, for your pleasure, is her actual response to his challenge, which Rick did NOT respond to, after the break.




Chris Rodda on August 12th, 2012 12:51 am 
OK, Mr. Green, I’ll do exactly as you asked, so that there will be no reason for you not to approve my comment. Here is a very specific example.
Mr. Barton claims on page 42 of his book that Jefferson wanted to move a religious school from Europe to the United States. Here is what he wrote:
“In 1794, after Jefferson had returned home from serving as secretary of state for President George Washington, he contacted a member of the Virginia legislature about bringing the Geneva Academy from Europe to Virginia. The Geneva Academy was established in 1559 by Reformation theologian John Calvin. In this school, the Bible was an indispensable textbook and students from the school became missionaries all over Europe; and Jefferson wanted to bring this famous religious school to his state.”
Why is Mr. Barton’s claim that Jefferson wanted to bring this religious school to America a lie? Because by 1794 the Geneva Academy was no longer a theological seminary. It was one of the two leading academies of science in Europe. Jefferson’s plan was to import a group of Europe’s top science professors, not a religious school.
In a letter to George Washington, who was also anxious to establish a public university in America, Jefferson described the Geneva Academy and its faculty, listing the various sciences taught by the faculty members.
Here are Jefferson’s own words describing the very Geneva Academy to George Washington:
“…the revolution which has taken place at Geneva has demolished the college of that place, which was in a great measure supported by the former government. The colleges of Geneva & Edinburgh were considered as the two eyes of Europe in matters of science, insomuch that no other pretended to any rivalship with either. Edinburgh has been the most famous in medicine during the life of Cullen; but Geneva most so in the other branches of science, and much the most resorted to from the continent of Europe because the French language was that which was used. a Mr. D’Ivernois, a Genevan, & man of science, known as the author of a history of that republic, has proposed the transplanting that college in a body to America. he has written to me on the subject, as he has also done to Mr. Adams, as he was formerly known to us both, giving us the details of his views for effecting it. probably these have been communicated to you by Mr. Adams, as D’Ivernois desired should be done; but lest they should not have been communicated I will take the liberty of doing it. his plan I think would go to about ten or twelve professorships. he names to me the following professors as likely if not certain to embrace the plan.
Monchon, the present President, who wrote the Analytical table for the Encyclopedists, & which sufficiently proves his comprehensive science.
Pictet, known from his admeasurements of a degree, & other works, professor of Natural philosophy.
his brother, said by M. D’Ivernois to be also great.
Senebier, author of commentaries on Spallanzani, & of other works in Natural philosophy & Meteorology; also the translator of the Greek tragedies.
Bertrand}
L’Huillier} both mathematicians, and said to be inferior to nobody in that line except La Grange, who is without an equal.
Prevost, highly spoken of by D’Ivernois.
De Saussure & his son, formerly a professor, but who left the college to have more leisure to pursue his geological researches into the Alps, by which work he is very advantageously known.”
Source: Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, February 23, 1795, The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Series 1, General Correspondence, 1651-1827, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, #16799.
Obviously, this was not a religious school. What Jefferson wanted to bring to America was very clearly a group of science professors. Yet Mr. Barton claims that Jefferson wanted to bring a “famous religious school” to America. This is a lie.
I see a very specific claim against a very specific passage, full of evidence and footnotes.

You see, this is a perfect example of people lying.   Not only is Rick Green lying about Chris' response, but he is backing a man who has written a book so full of lies that the publisher pulled it and destroyed every copy it got its hands on!

Neither Rick Green nor David Barton have any integrity or personal credibility at all.  They have proven themselves, publicly, to be liars and cretins.

Now, I am not going to say that this is an example of christian lies in the sense of a blanket accusation.  I am well aware that there are boatloads of christians of all persuasions who do not lie, and take that commandment seriously, in both senses.  Please do not take this as a blanket indictment.

But what this is, is an example of a high profile christian, actively promoting his religion, using lies, innuendo, and character assassination to both promote his religion and to try to shut down his critics, all in the service of undermining the democracy this country was founded on.

Fortunately, in this case, there are other christians who have joined Chris in condemning this man Barton and are helping her to counter his lies and intellectual poison.

This post is a shout-out to those christians and a hearty "thank you" to them as an American citizen who values honesty and truth.

Thanks, folks, from the bottom of my heart!


2 comments:

Oldfart said...

No doubt, some of Barton's books will be touted by the Republican Party of Texas as suitable teaching materials for their "new" education theories. The American Taliban. I'm waiting for them to start demanding virginity tests and throwing acid in the eyes of young women who want to learn.

Robert Ahrens said...

You could be right, but I'd rather that day never comes.