Beck’s Historian Delivered Talks to Racist, Anti-Semitic Christian Identity Groups

Media Matters | October 07, 2010 — According to the Anti-Defamation League, David Barton, a self-described historian promoted by Fox News' Glenn Beck, has twice spoken to groups affiliated with the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement. Beck himself has promoted the work and ideas of anti-Semites.

ADL: Barton has twice addressed groups affiliated with Christian Identity movement

ADL: "Barton has delivered his revisionist presentation in the meeting halls of the racist and anti-Semitic extreme right." In the 1994 book, The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America, the Anti-Defamation League wrote that Barton "purveys a slick, cut-and-paste revisionist history of the United States and the Constitution." ADL further stated that Barton spoke at events hosted by the Christian Identity movement, which "asserts that Jews are 'the synagogue of Satan'; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the 'chosen people' of scriptural prophesy." From the book:

On at least two occasions, Barton has delivered his revisionist presentation in the meeting halls of the racist and anti-Semitic extreme right. In July 1991, Barton addressed the Colorado summer retreat of Scriptures for America, the Identity Church group headed by firebrand Pete Peters. He was advertised as "a new and special speaker" who would "bring the following messages: America's Godly Heritage -- Was it the plan of our forefathers that America be the melting pot home of various religions and philosophies? ..." Barton's fellow-speakers at the retreat included the virulently anti-Semitic Virginia stockbroker-polemicist Richard Kelly Hoskins; "Bo" Gritz, the 1992 presidential nominee of the far-right Populist Party and a self-described "white separatist"; and Canadian Holocaust-denier Malcolm Ross.

On November 24, 1991, Barton appeared at another Identity gathering, presenting the second annual Thanksgiving message to Identity preacher Mike Watson's Kingdom Covenant College in Grants Pass, Oregon. In a subsequent edition of The Centinel [sic], Watson's publication, Barton was described as a "nationally acclaimed speaker" who "has introduced many Americans to their godly Christian heritage." [Pages 55-56]

Barton later said he was not aware that the events were hosted by groups with a racist ideology and said "that with as many as 400 speaking engagements a year, he cannot do background checks on each of the invitations he receives," according to an April 10, 1996, Seattle Times article (retrieved via Nexis).

ADL: Pete Peters "has compiled a substantial record of anti-Jewish sentiment." The ADL states that Pete Peters, who convened the July 1991 Christian Identity meeting that Barton attended, has "a substantial record of anti-Jewish sentiment":

Peters has compiled a substantial record of anti-Jewish sentiment:

In a 1990 sermon, he insinuated, in the form of questions, stereo-typically conspiratorial views of Jewish power:

"Is there a Jewish conspiracy against America? Do Jews control America's media? Do Jews have a death grip on America's government? Are Jews left-wing, liberal anti-gunners? Do Jews cry anti-Semitism as a weapon to suppress the truth? Are Jews wanting to disarm Americans? [sic] Do Jews prevent a free press in America? Are Jews against freedom in America? Do Jews want total people control? Are Jews liars? Do Jews want to put America under tyranny? Must Jews leave America if America is to survive?

"These are all questions that you can answer from 'The Inadvertent Confessions of a Jew,' the message of this cassette tape," Peters said.

ADL: Several members of the 1980s "far-right terrorist group" The Order attended Peters' church. From the ADL Web page on Peters:

Peters and his church first came to national attention in 1985 when Colorado newspapers reported that several members of The Order, the most violent far-right terrorist group of the 1980s, had attended the LaPorte Church of Christ during their criminal heyday. Subsequent investigation into The Order's activities revealed a string of firebombings, armed robberies, counterfeiting and the execution of one of their own members suspected of disloyalty. In 1987 two members of The Order were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of 150 years in connection with the murder in June 1984 of Alan Berg, a Jewish talk-show host in Denver. Several months earlier, in February 1984, Peters, along with Jack Mohr, appeared on Berg's program and Berg angrily confronted the two men about their white supremacist views.

ADL: Christian Identity movement linked to numerous violent incidents. The ADL reports that the Christian Identity movement is linked to many violent events, including a number that occurred before Barton spoke at the Christian Identity-affiliated events:

Christian Identity's racist and apocalyptic qualities helped lead to several well-known incidents of domestic terrorism during the past quarter century. In North Dakota in 1983, Gordon Kahl demonstrated how radical Identity adherents could be when he killed two U.S. Marshals who had come to arrest him for a parole violation (a mourner at one funeral was Assistant Attorney General Rudolph W. Giuliani, later to become all too familiar with such funerals). A four-month manhunt ended in another shootout in Arkansas, where Kahl killed a local sheriff before he himself was killed.

That same year, the white supremacist terrorist group known as The Order began its series of armed robberies (to which it would add additional crimes ranging from counterfeiting to assassination). Several members of the gang were Christian Identity, including David Tate, who in 1985 killed a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer attempting to reach an Identity survivalist compound called the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). An ensuing standoff resulted in the demise of the CSA and the arrest of its leadership. During the 1980s, several Identity groups attempted to follow in the footsteps of The Order, including The Order II and the Arizona Patriots, who committed bombings and an attempted armored car robbery, respectively.

Barton's scholarship has been criticized as phony

ADL: "Barton's 'scholarship,' like that of Holocaust denial and Atlantic slave trade conspiracy-mongering is ... not history." From The Religious Right:

[Barton's] ostensible scholarship functions in fact as an assault on scholarship: in the manner of other recent phony revisionisms, the history it supports is little more than a compendium of anecdotes divorced from their original context, linked harum-scarum and laced with factual errors and distorted innuendo. Barton's "scholarship," like that of Holocaust denial and Atlantic slave trade conspiracy-mongering is rigged to arrive at predetermined conclusions, not history. [Page 54]

The Religious Right goes on to say:

Appendix C of this report refutes some of Barton's -- and other religious right revisionists' -- most important Constitutional and historical misreadings. To provide a sense of these misreadings, a few basic facts may be noted here.

The Framers of the Constitution were men who, for the most part, held strong Christian beliefs. They were not "evangelicals" -- the term did not even enter common parlance until the latter half of the nineteenth century, and only a few would be considered evangelical today. Likewise, while several states maintained established churches after the Constitution was ratified -- a circumstance emphasized by many who believe the First Amendment merely disallows a national denomination -- this early period in the country's history does not merit the "Christian nation" tag. Statistics suggest that the current era, despite the latter-day jeremiads heaped on it by prophets of decline, is in fact far more broadly "Christian."

Sen. Specter: Barton's arguments "range from the technical to the absurd." According to People for the American Way, in 1996, Sen. Arlen Specter -- a Republican at the time -- criticized Barton's "pseudoscholarship":

In 1995, Republican Senator Arlen Specter wrote in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy that many of Barton's arguments "range from the technical to the absurd" and that they "proceed from flawed and highly selective readings of both text and history." Specter went on to state that Barton's "pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people."

Beck has praised and promoted Barton

Beck: Barton "is one of the most important people in America to save America today." Barton appeared on the June 25 edition of Beck's Fox News show, during which Beck said:

BECK: We're back with David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders. He is a -- he is an amazing guy because you can -- you know, when I get on and I say, you know, here's what I think is going on. You can dispute that all you want because that's my opinion. But when we talk about history and you can produce the documents -- and that's why I really believe David Barton is one of the most important people in America to save America today because he didn't give you his opinion, but he'll produce the document to show you the fact. [via Nexis]

Beck credits Barton with coming up with the idea for Beck's Black Robe Brigade. During the April 29 edition of his Fox News show, Beck asked Barton, whom he referred to as "a new friend," to describe the "Black Robe Brigade." Barton stated that these were preachers the British blamed for fomenting the American Revolution. Later, on the August 30 edition of his radio show, Beck said:

BECK: And didn't know how to go about it and didn't even know the Black Robe Regiment or anything else. And I had been talking to David Barton when we first met and I said, "David, I just feel that I'm -- we're supposed to get religious leaders together. God is the answer. But I don't know -- and I'm a Mormon, I mean, nobody's going to talk to me." And he said, "Oh, you need the Black Robe Regiment." And I said, "What is that?" We started talking about it and I read up on it and I'm like, "Exactly it. That's exactly it. It's not about politics."

Beck chose Barton to give his first "Glenn Beck Morning Prayer." On August 16, Beck chose Barton to give the first daily "Glenn Beck Morning Prayer." In his prayer, Barton said that God "conceived," "planned," and "called" for Beck's 8-28 rally.

Barton spoke at Beck's "Divine Destiny" event. Barton was one of the speakers at Beck's Divine Destiny event at the Kennedy Center, part of Beck's weekend of 8-28 events. In his speech, Barton stated that Jews and Christians united against "Muslim terrorists" during the Barbary War.

Beck himself has promoted the work of racists and anti-Semites

Beck promoted racist anti-Semite Elizabeth Dilling. On the June 4 edition of his radio program, Beck promoted The Red Network by Elizabeth Dilling, which is a book that contains numerous passages espousing anti-Semitism and racism. At various points throughout the book, Dilling attacked "racial inter-mixture" as a communist plot, referred to "un-Christianized" "colored people" as "savages," called Hinduism and Islam "debasing and degrading," and blamed Nazi Germany's anti-Semitism on "revolutionary Russian Jews." Furthermore, Dilling was a Nazi sympathizer who visited Germany in the late 1930s, attended Nazi party meetings, and praised Adolf Hitler's leadership. Dilling also spoke at rallies hosted by the leading U.S. Nazi organization, the German-American Bund

Dilling's history of anti-Semitism includes calling President Eisenhower "Ike the Kike" and labeling President Kennedy's New Frontier program the "Jew frontier." British Professors Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves wrote that Dilling was a "pro-Nazi anti-Semite" who disseminated the anti-Semitic hoax, Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Furthermore, Dilling's work has been promoted by David Duke and the Women for Aryan Unity group. 

Beck refused to apologize for promoting Dilling's work, saying on the June 7 edition of his radio show:

BECK: But I'm also getting some amazing mail from the left that now says I'm a Nazi anti-Semite because I quoted a book on Friday -- it was the Red Book, or something like that. It was a who's who, who's in the communist party in 1935. Apparently, I don't know, apparently written by a Nazi sympathizer here in America. Part of the, I'm sure -- I don't know because I didn't look it up -- but I'm sure part of the Father Coughlin, social justice crowd, because this is the choice that progressives give you -- you're either a Nazi or a communist. No, I'm neither. But now -- so now I'm kind of stuck between the place where the left says that I'm a Nazi sympathizer and a Jew lover. So I guess the left can have it all, that I'm a Jew-loving Nazi sympathizer. It's a really interesting place that I don't know if anybody's ever been.

Beck cited book by anti-Semitic Eustace Mullins. On the September 22 edition of his Fox News show, Beck cited Eustace Mullins' book Secrets of the Federal Reserve. Mullins was a 9-11 truther who has been described as an "anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist" and a "nationally known white supremacist"; the ADL called the book "a re-hash of Mullins' anti-Semitic theories about the origins of the Federal Reserve." In addition, in an obituary for Mullins, the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia, described Mullins as a "[n]ationally known white supremacist and anti-Semite."

Beck pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy about George Soros. On the October 5 edition of his Fox News show, Beck advanced former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's anti-Semitic claim that Soros "helped trigger the economic meltdown" of Southeast Asian currencies in 1997, which Mahathir had reportedly suggested was part of a Jewish "agenda." In fact, Soros and other hedge funds were found not to be primarily responsible for the currency crisis, and Mahathir later retracted the claim.

— A.H.S.

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