What is it about uncongenial facts that bothers people – conservatives especially? They go up against sometimes long-held preconceived notions and in a conservatives mind, that spells certain doom – for the facts.
What generally issues from the conservative’s mouth is not “oops” or “I’m sorry” but an ad hominem attack on the author exposing the invention or misuse of those facts. Conservatives love to invent quotes to back up their positions and they hate it when somebody – including “communist” CNN – corrects them.
In an article on CNN Friday, Christina Zdanowicz addressed Thomas Jefferson misquotes on guns. In Jefferson: The face of the modern gun debate: How the third president is our Rorschach test on guns Zdanowicz listed some Jefferson quotes in which he allegedly comes down on the side of gun-lovers everywhere.
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
“The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Quotes conservative wannabe “patriots” particularly love.
The problem is, these are things Jefferson never said. Just like the infamous George Washington quote that surfaced a few years ago in relation to the gun-control debate:
“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people’s liberty teeth.”
The very obvious fly in the buttermilk is that George Washington never said that.
And how patriotic are you, really, if you’re just making things up?
It is a replay of David Barton’s Founding Father quotes supporting American theocracy – things the Founding Fathers never actually said. Barton falsely attributing to Washington, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible,” being a prime example of “mything.”
Conservatives love this stuff because it reassures them of the rightness of their preconceived notions. But it just ain’t so.
Now while it would be an enjoyable and probably emotionally satisfying exercise to invent a list of David Barton quotes in which he enthuses over things like necrophilia and bestiality, or even sex with dead animals, it would be an unnecessary exercise, as this is one Christian Nationalist is quite easy to refute without resorting to ad hominem attacks.
What I am saying is that yes, David Barton is indeed a tool, but I will show you why he is a tool by listing his many and egregious errors.
I experienced these reactions myself quite often over the course of writing and updating the Dirty Thirty (linked above), as though it were somehow my fault that Republicans were engaged in this legislative war on women and against the Constitution and America itself.
I would say “Look at the list: it contains direct links to the legislation in question. Republicans wrote it; I didn’t. Blame them,” which would only elicit more insults.
And this is exactly what happened to Zdanowicz. In the very first comment you see a pair of priceless comments that speak eloquently about the conservative mind:
SLAP MY FACE WITH NI**ERRCOCKS
“Goddamned Jews trying to take our guns”
Because every Nazi knows the Jews control the media…
“Communist News Network strikes again!”
As reasoned a response as ever to unwelcome news. Only a communist, apparently, would report the facts rather than wishful thinking?
Based on conservative reactions to media coverage of their despicable behavior during the 2012 presidential race, you can imagine if the right-leaning corporate media ever started reporting what Republicans are saying and doing with any degree of honesty. Second Amendment remedies would certainly be part of the response.
The past is a huge collection of facts. Many of them unwelcome facts. We cherish our images of what happened and many of them are unfortunately false or never happened at all. It is a simple fact that people do not like to have their beliefs challenged.
But as an irascible Greek stonemason and hoplite once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being” (Plato, Apology, 38a).
What that says about the human status of conservatives I will leave you to decide.