James Dobson on Biden’s election: “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” (And other court evangelical news)

As I write, Washington D.C. is an armed camp. 25,000 National Guard members are ready to defend the U.S. Capitol during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20.

Meanwhile, people are still dying of COVID-19. Incoming President Joe Biden is doing his best to deal with the pandemic and its effects while outgoing twice-impeached president is holed-up in the White House meeting with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell.

How are the court evangelicals responding?

Eric Metaxas is tweeting about martial law:

Ayanna Pressley has alopecia. But that doesn’t stop Eric from doing this:

The other night Eric Metaxas talked about those willing to die for conspiracy theories as courageous martyrs for Christ. He also shared this.

Not specifically court evangelical news, but one Trump evangelical apologized.

Yesterday a Liberty University graduate published a piece at The Bulwark that called the Falkirk Center a “slime factory.”

Apparently the Falkirk Center believes that American companies are “the left.” So much for free enterprise. Businesses can refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but they do not have the right to silence conspiracy theorists?

Charlie Kirk forgets about the time the MyPillow guy bailed out Kyle Rittenhouse:

Lance Wallnau tells his followers that impeachment is really about the elites screwing the working class. The elites currently control the “seven mountains” (as in Seven Mountain Dominionism), but the Christian working class will overthrow them. Wallnau claims that in 2014 the late “prophet” Kim Clement prophesied the words “impeach, impeach.” The interpretation? Trump would be impeached twice by elites in both political parties and the people would rise up in a “new kind of war.” According to Wallnau, this all has something to do with China and COVID-19. It also has something to do with a Jezebel-spirited “witch” in the White House.

Court evangelical David Brody talks with “presidential historian” Doug Wead about Trump’s legacy. Wead expounded a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton trying to get control of the Catholic Church. He also claims that Amazon is no longer selling the books of “distinguished” theologians. Wead says that “two impeachments will only get historians to notice all of Trump’s great accomplishments.” I beg to differ. I think two impeachments will get historians and millions of school children to notice that Trump was the only president to be impeached twice. 🙂 Wead calls for national unity. He says Biden doesn’t care about national unity because he called U.S. Capitol insurrections “terrorists.” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!:

I am not sure what is happening, but something is going on with Samuel Rodriguez and Twitter:

On Facebook, Jim Garlow calls attention to Trump’s “accomplishments” and still manages to get in a shot at the tech corporations who are persecuting him. He writes: “Never has a modern President accomplished so much (and been hated for doing so much good). If you want to see this before others (those who are re-writing history) remove it, you need to copy it now.” (He links to this article).

Here is Garlow on Facebook on January 13:

What happened today? 1. Highest number of Covid deaths in the US ever. Horrific. But Congress obviously had more important (and nefarious) things to do than to care about the American people. 2. And… 232 “Benedict Arnold” traitors of the US Constitution killed our precious Constitution this day, defying it’s very meaning … and – filled with hatred unlike anything we have ever seen – they are trying their best to destroy Donald Trump and the more than 74,000,000 people who voted for him. What a disgrace. Other than that, not much happened today.

On the same day, Garlow said this about the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump: “Remember the story of the 10 wimps who went into the Promised Land but they had no courage? “Well – they now have competition.” (He then lists their names). Here are some of his follower’s comments:

  • “They just flushed their career down the drain.”
  • “Every single one of them need to be aggressively primaried”
  • “Hope they enjoy their shortened career.”
  • “They betrayed our president”
  • “Just pray we have an election in 2020”
  • “Backstabbers”

Garlow also shared this post on Facebook from a “friend”:

Today is a day that will live in infamy. One of the greatest Presidents of all time, probably top 10 and certainly the greatest since Reagan, was for the second time the victim of a purely petty, partisan, pathetic, vindicate and groundless impeachment. That Trump has endured 4 years of illegal investigations, spying, lying and corruption and then had the election stolen in the most blatant and obvious fashion and HE is attacked for the VERY things they have done for the last 5 years! It is truly breathtaking and history will show that Trump was correct and that the Left, the Media, and the pathetic spineless RINO’s are the most shameful group of corrupt cowards ever to stain the floors of our Capitol. These are the 10 Republican lawmakers who supported the move to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection”

Again, this post drew some interesting comments, including:

  • “Disgraceful and utterly absurd. The evil in the hearts of men is actually beyond my comprehension in this current day.”
  • “Well, they are soon going to regret their act of treason. They need to repent quickly.”
  • “Definitely top 10 and I would say top 5!! Republicans who voted to impeach, NOTED.”
  • “I hope every single one of them is voted out. They are nothing better than traitors”
  • “Shame forever”
  • “Not just spineless. Traitorous.”

Robert Jeffress had a run-in with Illinois GOP congressman Adam Kinzinger. In a now deleted tweet, Kinginger wrote: “I believe there’s a huge burden now on pastors and clergy who openly spread the conspiracies of a stolen election, like @robertjeffress @beholdIsrael @FranklinGraham among many others, to admit their mistakes and lead their flocks out of darkness to truth.” Jeffress claimed he never said the election was “stolen.” (This is true. Although he came close). Jeffress, always ready to turn the other cheek, responded:

And Kinzinger’s response:

Jeffress’s exchange with the congressman seems to have re-empowered him. He was back on the Lou Dobbs show on FOX News last night to defend Trump’s legacy. Jeffress doesn’t regret a thing about his support of Trump and calls the twice-impeached, insurrection-inciting leader the greatest president in his lifetime. He talks about an “axis of evil” that tried to take Trump down and tells Dobbs to keep exposing the “darkness” and “lies” that are “sure to come” in the Biden administration.

Ralph Reed just can’t seem to let go. Trump lost. Loeffler lost. Perdue lost. This is a pretty risky thing to say in light of January 6, 2021. Does Reed really think that Biden’s inaugural will not be “marred by violent protests?”

Like Jim Garlow, Gary Bauer also turned to Facebook to call out the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Here are some of the comments from his followers after he shared this Washington Examiner article:

  • “Remember that next Election Day; oh, I forgot–there will never be a fair election again.”
  • “They are so blind and deaf, they are Democrats in wolfs clothing, I call for them to be removed/recalled and even kicked out of the GOP”
  • “praying for their hearts and eyes to be lifted up to Jesus to bring healing and deliverance from deception and unbelief…”
  • “Satan worked on their emotions and won. Their hearts were hardened.”
  • “Wicked doesn’t even describe what they have done and will continue to do. The evil devils in the demonkkkrat (sic) party along with their friends the liberal activists in the media have no qualms about using and abusing some one else for power.”

A moderate Democrat and devout Roman Catholic will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20, 2021 and James Dobson believes that “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” Here is a taste of his monthly newsletter:

The Left has now achieved ultimate power in the White House, in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate. Consequently, as I warned in December, there will be no checks and balances within our system of government. The most radical ideas promoted by President Joe Biden and his majority party will be enacted. We can infer from what they have told us that the years ahead will bring more regulation, less freedom, more taxation, less religious liberty, more socialism, less democracy, more funds for abortion, less support for the sanctity of human life, less funding for the military, more illegal immigration, more restrictions on speech, less patriotism, more wasteful spending, less support for families, more regulations on business, more appeasement of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, less support for the electoral college, trillions more dollars for climate nonsense, more LGBTQ propaganda, less moral compunction, more governmental corruption, less oversight of elections, more “cancel culture,” fewer police officers, more gun control, and less government of the people, by the people and for the people. We can also anticipate quick passage of the horrendous “Equality Act.” You might want to keep track of these items as they occur. This is just the beginning.

America and Western civilization will never be the same, because it is not possible to back up on a freeway. Once radical changes are implemented, they will become ensconced in law and culture. I am most concerned about what all this means for the next generation. Children are extremely vulnerable to leftist curricula in the public schools. Specifically, I am worried about parental rights and the legality of home schooling. It is the only protection for kids.

In conclusion, I will let you interpret this Franklin Graham tweet:

Free speech! Free speech! The court evangelicals process the events of the last week.

It’s been a very ugly week in America. By this time next week, Donald Trump may be the only United States president to have been impeached twice. We are getting more and more disturbing images and videos from Wednesday’s invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Here is one of the latest:

On Parler and Facebook, Eric Metaxas shared an article suggesting that the insurrectionists were not Trump supporters, but members of Antifa.

Metaxas is a fellow at Liberty University’s Falkirk Center. The center’s Twitter feed is rallying the troops:

What, does the Falkirk Center mean by the “power of the Gospel?” Is the tweet below a reference to the transforming power of the good news of Jesus Christ or the power of Trumpism? Is the Falkirk Center asking followers to plant seeds of faith or seeds of Christian nationalism?

Such “absolute standards” led evangelicals to Donald Trump:

Thousands of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol and court evangelical journalist David Brody and David Barton crony Rick Green are playing the moral equivalency card. “But what about the Democrats!?” Sorry David Brody, the Democrats did not storm the seat of American government.

Brody, the star newsman at the Christrian Broadcasting Network, believes that Trump has “united the country.” You can’t make this stuff up:

David Barton, the GOP activist who uses the past to promote his political agenda, retweeted Kentucky representative Thomas Massie. Barton and Massie believe that Twitter’s decision to ban Trump was the most “dystopian” thing that happened this week.

Jack Hibbs believes Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump is a violation of the First Amendment. Last night he wrote: “If it seems like the first amendment and the Constitution has been abolished it’s probably because it has. The Church is next.” Not really. Twitter is private company. They can ban anyone they want to ban. Also, Twitter has no power to “abolish” the Church.

Hibbs was in Washington D.C. on the day of the insurrection. Why would an evangelical pastor from California be in Washington D.C. on January 6? How is showing-up at a pro-Trump rally part of Hibbs’s pastoral vocation? He believes that the insurrectionists were members of Antifa. He claims that the rioters at the Capitol on Wednesday were “of the same spirit” as the British who invaded Washington in the War of 1812. Both groups, Hibbs says, want to “destroy our Judeo-Christian nation.”

Finally, Hibbs says that “freedom is always purchased with blood…liberty and freedom is a bloody work…Jesus went to the cross and bled for our freedom from sin.” He then compares Jesus’s death to the “blood and sacrifice” of people who died to create the United States and broke rank with” a tyrannical government. Earlier in his little speech, Hibbs extolled the evangelical pastors who promoted liberty from their pulpits during the American Revolution. These pastors mixed American liberty and Christian liberty and, in the process, manipulated the teachings of the Bible to advance their political agenda. I wrote about this extensively in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. Hibbs is doing the exact same thing here. Finally, Hibbs reminds his followers that he embraces a dispensationalist, pre-millennial, pre-tribulational eschatology.

Jim Garlow, another court evangelical who appeared on this television show with Hibbs, said that Hibbs has “brilliant insights.” Garlow compared the insurrectionists with the civil rights movement. Watch here.

Robert Jeffress says that when the insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol they were committing a “sin against God.” He calls for peace and unity, but says nothing about the fact that he provided cover for Trump during his entire presidency. Jeffress never uttered a negative word about the man. He is one of the many evangelicals responsible for what happened at the Capitol this week.

Many court evangelicals want to move beyond Trump’s assault on American democracy. They prefer to attack a private tech company:

Tony Perkins, who has built his entire career scaring evangelicals into believing that liberals are taking away their “rights,” tweets a quote from Peter Marshall:

John Hagee believes that the insurrection on Wednesday marks the “advent of the New World Order”:

The court evangelicals continue to mix biblical faith and Trumpism

So what has happened in the United States since our last court evangelical update?

Donald Trump continues to claim he won the 2020 presidential election, refuses to sign Congress’s COVID-19 relief package, and pardoned two murderers and two members of Congress who pleaded guilty to crimes. As I type Trump also pardoned Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner’s father. The latter committed a crime that Chris Christie, the prosecutor of his case, called “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he has ever prosecuted. Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of people are dying from COVID-19, health-care workers are at the breaking point, and Americans are standing in food lines.

Just another day in Trumpland.

The number of the president’s advisers and friends is getting smaller and smaller by the day. We are now in a race to January 20, 2020 and are all hoping the lame duck president does nothing stupid. As I type, David Gergen is on CNN saying that this is the “most dangerous point of the Trump presidency.”

Meanwhile, the folks at the Liberty University Falkirk Center are still fighting for the president. They are still talking about “standing on truth.” This is getting embarrassing. What “line” are they holding? What “stand” are they taking? They support a president who pardons murderers and crooks, cannot tell the truth, vetoes aid to suffering Americans, and is trying to undermine the presidential election. Is this standing up for the Gospel? Really?

Humility and repentance? Seriously? Have you read your Twitter feeds lately?

Charlie Kirk is the founder of the Liberty University Falkirk Center. He is upset about the COVID-19 relief bill and wants the government to give more money to the American people. I think Kirk and the Democratic Party may have found some common ground. I am sure Nancy Pelosi would love Kirk’s help in getting more cash to ordinary Americans.

Kirk is saying nothing about Trump’s veto of the bipartisan defense bill. Trump vetoed the bill because it would provide the funds necessary to rename ten military bases currently named for Confederate leaders.

Jenna Ellis, a fellow at the Liberty University Falkirk Center, is also in favor of more government spending on the stimulus. Maybe she should be working for Pelosi instead of Trump.

Eric Metaxas is in legal trouble. But he is still pushing the election fraud narrative. He claims that there are “forces at work that are as wicked as we have ever seen” and Americans don’t truly understand “evil.” Then he compares anyone who “looks the other way” on this so-called “election fraud” to the “evil” of the Chinese communists. “If you can’t take this seriously,” Metaxas says, “I can’t take you seriously.” He says that unless Biden is stopped “we cannot move forward as a country” because God is on Trump’s side. He knows a Trump victory is “God’s will.” Watch:

Lance Wallnau also believes God is on Trump’s side:

Court evangelical David Brody interviews Metaxas. Metaxas thinks Trump will win because “more and more Americans” believe the election is rigged. This is interview clarifies the nature of Metaxas’s mission right now. He wants to instill enough doubt and fear in the minds and hearts of ordinary evangelicals so that they do something to stop Biden’s inauguration. What will happen when the Senate certifies the vote of the Electoral College on January 6 and when Biden is inaugurated on January 20. Does that mean he was wrong about God’s will? Will he call for an insurrection–a holy war of sorts?

Brody also interviewed Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker of the House believes the Democrats stole the election, but the legal team needs to do a better job:

In this tweet Brody makes it sound like he is either waiting for the rapture or a strong weather system:

Christmas is tomorrow, but David Barton is still fighting over the Thanksgiving. In this piece, he tries to argue that there are two Americas. One has its roots in Jamestown and slavery and the other has its roots in the Pilgrims and liberty. And, of course, he calls us to follow the example of the Pilgrims. (Of course he fails to note that much of the theology the Pilgrims brought to America influenced pro-slavery ideas in the 19th century). This reminds me of when Barton was on the Eric Metaxas show and said that both Jamestown and Plymouth were “Christian” colonies, but only Plymouth was “biblical.”

Former Minnesota congressperson Michelle Bachmann will lead the Pat Robertson School of Government at Regent University. She is hoping to expand the university’s “biblical worldview.” Tony Perkins is very excited about it:

Jack Hibbs supports the president’s decision to veto the stimulus package:

The last time we saw Jim Garlow he was hosting Alt-right leader Steve Bannon on his “election integrity” prayer call. Today he is on FB pushing this conspiracy theory and telling some of his court evangelical and political friends to “get this to the right people”:

Went to vote today 12/21/2020 early voting and while standing in line; a white car parks across the street in front of Island’s Library on Whitemarsh Island, GA in front of voting entrance. The car is not in a parking space and the driver had on the emergency blinking lights. They rushed to the voting area door and went inside. I took a picture of their car when I noticed it had a Florida tag. A few minutes they returned with a green plastic container. They opened their trunk and then went to the back seat of the car and removed bags that looked like empty suitcases and put them in the trunk. One lady grabbed a small bag that had writing on it saying “Secure the Vote”. They packed the green plastic container, put it in the car and drove off. They could be legitimate but I was left wondering after I enlarged the picture of the container and it said, “Absentee ballots to be processed”. Tell me if you are suspicious?

Robert Jeffress is on Fox News giving leadership advice, praising Trump for his leadership, and attacking Biden. He calls Trump “President Trump” and he calls Biden “Joe.”

Franklin Graham praises Newt:

Finally, I am struck today by how the Twitter feeds of the court evangelicals are filled with tweets about Christmas miracles interspersed, almost seamlessly, with election fraud tweets. This is sad. Because these Christian men and women are enabling the worst president of the United States. This president’s immorality and shamelessness make Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, and Richard Nixon look like saints.

When the culture-war wing of your Christian university is named after a disgraced president and an internet troll…

How long will the administration of Liberty University allow its culture warrior wing, aka the Falkirk Center, to exist?

The Falkirk Center is named for two pro-Trump culture warriors: Jerry Falwell Jr. and Charlie Kirk.

We now know that Jerry Falwell Jr. has resigned from the presidency of Liberty in the midst of a sex scandal.

Charlie Kirk’s marketing firm was banned from Facebook after the social media site concluded that he is running a political “troll farm.” Twitter has locked his account for tweeting false political information about the election in Pennsylvania.

Samuel Avery-Quinn gets it right:

How long can Liberty claim to be a Christian university and still have a center named after these men?

The Trump administration in 9 tweets

Check out Travis Andrews’s Washington Post piece “Commander in Tweets.” It’s all there, from “covfefe” to “witch hunt.”

Here is a taste:

Politicians have always taken to the latest technology to craft their images, whether President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” on the radio or President John Kennedy’s news conferences on television. Twitter has offered Trump immediacy and rendered pesky handlers somewhat obsolete, as reaching his 87 million followers takes one click of a button.

“The greatest weakness politicians have is they’re inauthentic. Behind closed doors, they do offensive things. But when they’re in public, they act with perfect decorum,” said Ari Fleischer, a Fox News contributor who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary. “I think one of the reasons Trump remains politically competitive is because a lot of Americans credit him with being authentic, even if he goes too far.”

Jamie Weinstein, a conservative political journalist and host of the podcast “The Jamie Weinstein Show,” predicted that the account has so resonated with Trump’s base and so infuriated his critics that “when the president leaves office, his Twitter account still will probably be the most powerful Twitter account in the world.”

As Election Day approaches, we selected the defining tweets of Trump’s presidency, the ones that made the most impact and highlighted major themes from the past four years.

Read the entire piece here.

The meltdown continues

The American people elected this man. 81% of white evangelicals supported him. Most of them will vote for him again. I recall Grant Wacker’s great line in his biography of Billy Graham: “The crucial point is that Graham continued to defend Nixon long after most Americans smelled a rat. When the first hint of something amiss came to light in 1972, Graham dismissed it as pettifogery.” If you want to understand 2020 just replace “Graham” with “white evangelicals” in the previous quote.

And now Trump continues to meltdown right before our eyes. As I said in my post earlier this week, we are getting an unprecedented look at this. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Here’s more

Did you know that the Library of Congress is archiving tweets?

Trump’s unprecedented meltdown. We’ve never seen anything like this before.

Trump is melting down. We have never seen anything like this before in American history. I am sure other presidents have had meltdowns (Nixon comes to mind), but social media makes it all public. Can you imagine what future historians will say about this week? This year?

“Beauty” in quotes.

Also, forgive my ignorance here, but does anyone still call them “beauty parlors?” I spent the last 19-years living in a house with three women/girls and I don’t think I ever heard the phrase “beauty parlor” uttered one time. 🙂

This one is interesting. First, Biden is not opposed to fracking. Second, I love how Trump makes sure everyone knows that when he uses the term fracking he really means “JOBS!”

Twitter actually had to block a Trump tweet because he tweeted the e-mail address of a New York Post reporter

Trump wrote all these tweets (and more) on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

SHEAR calls for its president to resign (and some thoughts on today’s Twitter mob)

SHEAR

There are now multiple calls for historian Doug Egerton to resign as president of The Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR)By the time you read this he may already be gone.

Here is a July 19, 2020 letter from the voting members of the SHEAR Advisory Council:

The digital plenary on Friday, July 17, 2020, violated the ethical norms, academic standards, and established procedures of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. The SHEAR Advisory Council deeply regrets and sincerely apologizes for these failures.

These failures included the president’s lack of full consultation with relevant elected and appointed committees during the planning of the session and neglect of procedures that encourage a diverse set of participants at all SHEAR panels.

We are therefore recommending that Douglas Egerton resign as President and step down from the Executive Committee, and that President-Elect Amy Greenberg step in as President. In consultation with the Nominations Committee, the remaining members of the Executive Committee should then proceed immediately with this year’s elections.

We also wish to strongly endorse and co-sign a letter sent to SHEAR leadership and signed by a group of concerned SHEAR members (see below). It represents the outpouring of communications we have received over the weekend. SHEAR is the collective creation of its members and we are grateful for the letter writers who created this statement.

Although this moment is difficult, this incident has served to strengthen our resolve to foreground diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism as core tenets of our professional work and to build an organization that properly reflects the diversity that is a hallmark of 21st century historical research. New leadership is essential to move SHEAR forward and we invite our membership to participate actively in this process. In the meantime, the Council will meet with the remaining members of the Executive Committee to discuss further steps.

Sincerely,

Susan Branson, 2018-2020                            

Kevin Butterfield, 2020-2022                         

Jonathan Earle, 2018-2020                            

Nicole Eustace, 2018-2020                            

Leslie Harris, 2020-2022                                 

Ronald Angelo Johnson, 2020-2022              

Jessica Lepler, 2019-2021                              

Caleb McDaniel, 2019-2021                           

Margot Minardi, 2020-2022                             

Amanda B. Moniz, 2018-2020                        

Sarah J. Purcell, 2019-2021                           

Daniel Richter, 2020-2022                              

Tamara Plakins Thornton, 2019-2021            

Attached to this letter on the H-Net e-mail list (where I saw it) was a July 17 letter. It reads:

We are writing as long time members of and boosters for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic to express our outrage at the plenary panel on Friday, July 17.

The online plenary offered an opportunity to showcase the broad and diverse membership that SHEAR has been working to cultivate, and which President Doug Egerton referenced in his opening remarks. Unfortunately, the panel provided just the opposite. The collection of scholars who were part of the panel featured a lack of intellectual diversity, a lack of career stage diversity, and most importantly, a lack of racial and ethnic diversity. Indeed, the panel did not even follow SHEAR’s own guidelines for panels, which advise that “the best panels have a mix of presenters—by gender, graduate students and professors of different ranks, racial diversity, people from a range  of institutions, non-academic presenters, people who haven’t appeared on a SHEAR program before or in a while, and people who don’t all live within the city limits of one university town.”

The result of this lack of diversity, which surely could have been anticipated, was evident immediately as none of the panelists could speak to the most pressing issues raised by the paper in question, such as Indigenous dispossession, monuments, and the role of junior, independent, and contingent scholars in engaging with the public. The narrowness of the discussion, combined with the dismissiveness of journalists and their work, does a disservice to historians who are working hard to reach audiences outside of universities and work with public-facing partners.

Moreover, the panel offered the opportunity to showcase much of the new and exciting work being produced by SHEAR members, and instead featured a paper that caricatured this scholarship rather than offering a fair critique. This is the antithesis of the scholarly engagement and intergenerational mentorship that SHEAR prides itself on providing at its annual conferences, and it works against longstanding efforts to welcome various voices into our organization.

Most egregiously, a panelist repeatedly referred to Native peoples with a racial slur. No panel participants stopped the use of this word nor did they say anything in response to this racist and offensive language. We hope that SHEAR will issue a public acknowledgement and condemnation of this language immediately and will work to repair the significant damage this behavior has done to the SHEAR community and to others who observed the session. The health of this organization depends on it.

Signed,

Whitney Martinko

Rachel Sheldon

Kelly Kennington

Joseph M. Adelman

Seth Rockman

Bronwen Everill

Adam Malka

Ryan Quintana

Hilary Green

Michael Blaakman 

Emily Conroy-Krutz

M. Scott Heerman

Adam Pratt

Zara Anishanslin

Richard Bell 

Cassandra Good

Ben Wright

Derek Litvak

Kristen Epps

Honor Sachs

Paul J. Polgar

Christina Snyder

Jacob F. Lee

Nathaniel C. Green

Mandy L. Cooper

John P. Bowes

Gautham Rao

Julia Lewandoski

Dael A. Norwood

Elizabeth Ellis

Rachel Walker

Lori J. Daggar

Emilie Connolly

Andrew Shankman

Kevin Kenny

Daniel Diez Couch

Al Zuercher Reichardt

As most of you know, I wrote a post in support of the session in question. You can read it here. I was critical of the use of an ethnic slur during the Q&A, I thought there should have been more diversity on the panel, and I was critical of Feller’s claims that other scholars were incompetent. But that was not enough for many folks on Twitter.

I appreciate some of the push-back on Twitter and I also want to thank all of you who have e-mailed and messaged today with support. I still stand by what I wrote and I am saddened to see SHEAR make this move. I have heard today from people on the left, right, and center who supported the post. I can assure you that what you have seen on Twitter over the last 48 hours does not represent all SHEAR members or all members of the historical profession.

A few final thoughts:

I realized today just how tyrannical the Twitter mob can be. Over the course of the day I have seen tweets that have mocked my integrity as a historian and human being. The college where I work and have devoted 18 years of my career has been attacked. My intellect was questioned and my politics misrepresented. Some of the folks doing the damage were people with whom I thought I had a friendly acquaintance.

Twitter is a rough and nasty place and I realized today that it is not good for my soul. I guess the silver lining in all of this is that I had the chance to look in the mirror today. I saw a lot of myself in the tweets–the anger and vitriol I level against those with whom I disagree. I realized my own potential for using a reasonably large number of Twitter followers to summon the mob, cast judgment, squelch opinion, and monitor boundaries. It was not a pleasant sight. So, for the moment, I think I need to take a break from looking at Twitter.

As I noted in my post, I have been a fellow-traveler with SHEAR for over two decades. I have always enjoyed the meetings I have attended. So I am sorry it all turned-out this way.

And now for some logistical issues for those of you read the blog and could care less about SHEAR or these academic squabbles. (In other words, most of my readers). I will continue in my commitment to use social media to reach the general public who are interested in content at the intersection of American history, religion, and politics. My posts here on The Way of Improvement Leads Home will still go to Twitter, and I will continue to write what I believe is true. But for the time being, I will not be interacting or answering messages via Twitter. If you want to reach out to me, please do it by e-mail. The same goes for my public page on Facebook. I deleted both apps from my phone.

 

Thoughts on Daniel Feller’s plenary address at SHEAR 2020

64c66-shear

I finally got around to watching Daniel Feller‘s lecture on Andrew Jackson in the age of Trump at this year’s virtual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. You can watch it here and decide what you think about it. (You can also watch it here). Several of you have now asked me to comment.

Historians on Twitter are very upset about the session. There seem to be four related criticisms. First, many are angry because Feller failed to say more about Jackson’s racism, especially as related to Indian removal. One key issue was Feller’s refusal to describe the Indian removal as “genocide.” Second, some are angry that SHEAR did not invite younger scholars–especially those who study race and Native American history–to participate in the session. Such scholars, they argue, would have brought more complexity and diversity to this scholarly debate. Third, Feller took some shots at other historians. Fourth, Feller used a racial slur during the Q&A session.

You can read their takes at #SHEAR2020.

The participants were:

Daniel Feller, Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee

David Waldstreicher, City University of New York

Jeanne Heidler, U.S. Air Force Academy

David Heidler, U.S. Air Force Academy

Harry Watson, University of North Carolina

Jessica Lepler, University of New Hampshire

Thoughts:

  • I loved the session. Feller made a forceful argument. I thought the session was a model of what good academic debate should look like. As someone who has been teaching Andrew Jackson at the survey and upper-division level for twenty years, and also wrote about Trump’s use of Jackson in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I learned a great deal from Feller’s paper. The commentators made me think in different ways about Jackson and his comparison to Donald Trump. I want to thank SHEAR for hosting it.
  • On Feller’s use of the racial slur that was formerly associated with Washington’s NFL team, I agree with Journal of the Early Republic editor Andrew Shankman’s take. Shankman writes: “We all encounter this language in our sources.  We all struggle with how to bring students and colleagues to this work without normalizing and prolonging categories and terms that have justified, and continue to justify, violence and contempt, and that seek to deny full and equal membership in a loving community.  In my view, knowing that many people feel pain when they hear words that force them to recall wrongs done to them and those they cherish, and to recall them not at a time of their own choosing, is reason never to use such words.” I will leave it there.
  • There are several historians who offered useful criticism of Feller on Twitter. This is good. For example, I learned a lot from Becky Goetz’s long twitter thread and I jotted down a few titles for future reading. This is historical twitter at its best. (Although I also felt that Goetz was asking Feller to do a lot in a short paper).
  • On the other hand,  if you want to see how the historical profession deals with legitimate scholars who have dissenting views, read the tweets at #SHEAR2020. It’s not pretty.
  • There are some historians who attack SHEAR for simply allowing Feller to speak. They are calling his lecture a “disaster” and a “debacle.” Let’s remember that Feller is no slouch. He has spent his entire life studying Andrew Jackson. But some seem to suggest that his views are so out of bounds that they do not belong in the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. Others are “disappointed” in SHEAR. Disappointed? I wish there were more sessions like this. I thought it raised some great questions about historical method and how to balance the usefulness of the past with the notion that the past is a “foreign country.” (I actually wrote about this earlier today). I might use this in class.
  • Some historians on Twitter are saying that Feller does not give credit to younger scholars working on Jackson, race, and Indian removal. This is true. SHEAR should have brought some of these younger scholars into the conversation. This was a failure on their part. It is possible that Feller has read the scholarship of younger academics and simply does not find it compelling. There is nothing wrong with this. But let’s have some of these other scholars present to debate.
  • Many historians are questioning whether or not they will continue their membership in SHEAR because Feller was permitted to speak. If I were a member of SHEAR (I let my membership lapse years ago, but still occasionally attend the conference and write for the Panorama when asked) I would consider dropping my membership based on how Feller was treated by some SHEAR members on Twitter. (For the record, I have never met or corresponded with Feller). Of course we should feel free to disagree with Feller and express that on social media. I didn’t agree with some things he said either. But this cancel culture has to stop. Feller is no David Barton or Howard Zinn–writers who use the past for the sole purpose of promoting political agendas.
  • As I mentioned above, only about one-third of Feller’s presentation dealt with Indian removal. I know that race is an important topic right now, and it deserves the attention it is getting in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the ongoing discussion on monuments, but there are other categories of analysis. Feller made this point during the Q&A and I think he is correct. I appreciated Feller’s attempt to situate Jackson’s Indian removal policy within his entire presidency and point out that this moment was not the only thing that defined him. Also, this paper was about Trump’s use of Jackson. It was not a scholarly paper on Indian removal. The argument that more scholars of native American history should have been invited is fair, but it only goes so far since Feller’s paper was not devoted exclusively to Indian removal.
  • Feller’s criticism of Joyce Chaplin went too far when he suggested that she was incompetent. It also seemed to be a shot at “cosmopolitan” Cambridge from the Knoxville backcountry–a very Jacksonian move. On the other hand, if the editor of the Papers of Andrew Jackson criticizes a historian who is not a Jackson scholar we should probably not dismiss such criticism out of hand.
  • Historian Doug Egerton, the president of SHEAR, responded to the criticism of the panel with this letter. I thought it was a fair letter.

 

Black People in America Are Getting Lynched and This is What Trump is Doing…

Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. Riots. And Trump is going after Twitter.

Enough!

Here is ABC News:

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order targeting Twitter and other social media giants, saying he is taking action to “defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history,” after Twitter called two of his tweets “potentially misleading.”

Calling it a “big deal,” Trump said the order allows for new regulations so that social media companies “that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” but experts say he probably can’t do much without congressional approval and any move will be met with legal challenges.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said the president signed the executive order right after reporters left the Oval Office.

As expected, the order calls for new regulations under Section 320 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides broad immunity from lawsuits to websites based on the content its users post, and thus curbs some of those liability protection for companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google.

“They have had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” Trump claimed. “We are fed up with it.”

Read the rest here.

George Floyd, T.J. Klausutis, Masks are for Wimps, and Twitter Lies: Where are the Court Evangelicals?

Trump iN DallasLet’s think about what has happened in the last 24-48 hours.

The President of the United States continues to push a conspiracy claiming that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old women who died in his former congressional office in 2001. The widower of this woman, T.J. Klausutis, wrote a letter to Twitter asking the social media outlet to remove these tweets. In that letter he wrote: “the president of the United States has taken something that doesn’t belong to him–the memory of my dead wife–and perverted it for perceived political gain….My wife deserves better.”

One hour ago, Trump tweeted:

Despite its refusal to remove Trump’s Scarborough tweets, Twitter may be waking-up to the president’s lies. The social media outlet recently fact-checked a Trump tweet on mail-in ballots. Trump says that he will punish Twitter for this. (I still don’t understand why Twitter fact-checked this tweet and not the Scarborough tweets).

In Minneapolis, four police officers were fired for their involvement in the death of a black man named George Floyd. An officer held down Floyd with his knee as Floyd said that he could not breathe. He died shortly after this took place.

Trump mocked his Democratic 2020 rival Joe Biden for wearing a mask. He told a reporter wearing a mask that he was trying to be “politically correct.” Conservative radio pundit Rush Limbaugh said that masks have become a “required symbol on the left to promote fear, to promote indecision, to promote the notion that we’re nowhere out of this.” Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that it is “peculiar” that Biden doesn’t wear a mask at home.

These all seem like moral issues that Christians should be concerned about. The T.J. Klausutis story falls into the realm of “family values” and “marriage.” The Twitter fact-check story is about the difference between truth and lies. The George Floyd case is about human dignity and racism. The mask story is about life.

But too many conservative evangelical leaders, especially the court evangelicals, are silent. Trump has paralyzed them. Their consciences are held captive by GOP politics, the Christian Right political playbook, and the president. Their heads are in the sand. They are mostly silent. While all of these stories rage, they tweet things like this:

 

Court evangelical Jack Graham should be commended for calling attention to the Floyd case:

Reed agrees with Graham:

Now if only Graham and Reed would develop a deeper political theology to address the history of systemic racism that led to this moment. They condemn what happened to Floyd. This is right and good. Yet they remain blind to the racism and racist policies of Donald Trump.

Comparing Trump and the Court Evangelicals on Twitter During the Last 72 Hours

Trump-Bachmann-Pence-religious-right

Tweets and retweets included:

(A lot of our readers are not on Twitter. A “retweet” is a re-posting of a tweet that is then shared with all of retweeter’s followers. When Trump retweets, it is always an endorsement of the content of the original tweet).

And now here are the recent tweets and retweets over the last 48 hours from Trump’s leading evangelical supporters:

It looks like Reed is suddenly interested in politics making racist comments:

Reed has spent his entire life watching polls:

And, of course, Eric Metaxas, senior fellow at the Liberty University Falkirk Center:

metaxas Blackface

Alan Jacobs Does Not Like Twitter Threads

46efb-twitter-bird

Something to think about.  Here is Jacobs:

It’s a terrible experience first for the writer and then for the reader. Thread Reader is meant to make things less miserable for readers, and to some degree it accomplishes that, but whenever someone sends me a thread — I would never choose to look at one — you know what I inevitably think? Lordy, this is badly written. See, Thread Reader can’t do anything to reverse the damage the 280-character limit inflicts on a person’s writing: such writing is invariably choppy, imprecise, abstract, syntactically naïve or incompetent, lacking in appropriate transitions — a total mess in every respect. (Some of this happens because the writers get distracted by comments that start coming in before they’ve finished the thread, but an undistracted threader is still a poor writer.)

Read his entire post at his blog, Snakes and Ladders.

The Twitterstorians and Trump

Twitter

Historians on Twitter have caught the attention of The New Yorker.  Check out Lizzie Widdicombe’s piece “The Twitterstorians Trying to De-Trumpify U.S. History.”  It covers a Twitterstorians reception at the recent meeting of the American Historical Association in New York City.

The piece includes references to Kevin Kruse (of course), Kevin “The Tattooed Prof” Gannon, Jason Herbert, Robin Mitchell, Heather Cox Richardson, Joanne Freeman, Kevin Levin, Aidine Bettine, Leah LaGrone Ochoa, Ed O’Donnell, and David Trowbridge.

Here is a taste:

“I think it’s a real opportunity for us,” Gannon, who teaches at Grand View University, and whose Twitter handle is @TheTattoedProf, said. “We’re in these public spaces and, to quote Liam Neeson in ‘Taken,’ we have a very particular set of skills.” Gannon, whose burly arms are heavily tattooed, has almost seventy thousand followers and has tangled with D’Souza, too. He has reservations about Twitter as a teaching forum. “It’s not a deliberative space,” he said. “The real struggle for me is it’s very easy to be angry online all the time. But, if all you’re doing is yelling, there’s nothing of substance there.”

David Trowbridge, an associate professor at Marshall University, said, “It’s not us at our best.”

“Well, sometimes it is,” Edward T. O’Donnell, an associate professor at the College of the Holy Cross, said. O’Donnell, whose Twitter handle is @InThePastLane, is the creator of the annual Weemsy Awards, for “the biggest history fails of the year.” He crowdsources the nominations from Twitterstorians. Last year’s winners included President Trump, who said during a Fourth of July speech that George Washington’s army “took over the airports” from the British, and the conservative writer Erick Erickson, who, in criticizing the Times’s 1619 Project, opined about “the cost white people paid to free slaves.”

Gannon argued, “We’re at a particularly dangerous moment, historically speaking,” noting the way that “history, or versions of it, have been weaponized against marginalized communities.” He went on, “When people are reading history and thinking, ‘I wonder what it would be like to live during the Civil War? I certainly would have been one of the good guys,’ well, what you’re doing now is probably what you would have done then.”

“Somebody said that on Twitter a while ago,” O’Donnell said. “It was, like, ‘Remember that time in history class when you were reading about the abolitionist movement and said, ‘I definitely would have stood up’? Well, now is one of those times.”

Trowbridge cleared his throat. “My small viral moment was that one,” he said.

“Oh, that was you?” O’Donnell said. “I instantly retweeted that!”

Trowbridge looked pleased. “I think I went from five followers to five hundred.”

Read the entire piece here.

Why Trump’s Twitter Account is Equivalent to Official White House Letterhead

What's happening

David Graham makes a great point in his recent piece at The Atlantic.  Indeed, there seems to be no difference between Trump’s Twitter account and White House letterhead.  Today’s letter to Nancy Pelosi seems to prove this theory. Here is a taste of Graham’s “An Angry Letter Reveals the Fiction of the Two Trumps“:

Throughout the Trump presidency, his reluctant allies have asked the public to imagine that there are effectively two Trumps. Let’s call them Mr. Trump and President Trump. Mr. Trump says unhinged and unwise things at his rallies and tweets wildly. President Trump, meanwhile, is a dignified and relatively normal commander in chief. When Mr. Trump tweets something wacky, Republicans say they deal only with President Trump. Adopting a tactic popularized by former Speaker Paul Ryan, members of Congress will often insist that they don’t read Twitter.

When Mr. Trump heads off on self-destructive flights of fancy, Republican apologists try to redirect attention to President Trump’s actions—judicial appointments, regulatory rollbacks, and so on—and plead with people to ignore the rallies and social-media missives.

The White House has embraced this distinction, too. Sure, Mr. Trump loudly trumpeted his plans to ban Muslims from entering the United States, but government lawyers asked courts to ignore those statements and instead consider only the official paper trail of documentation that the administration created to support a ban after President Trump took office.

Read the entire piece here.

Court Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. Deletes Crude Tweet About David Platt

File Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Relevant magazine has it covered:

It appears that the president of Liberty University has deleted a crude tweet he sent to pastor and author David Platt.

Yesterday, he sent a tweet that read,  “Sorry to be crude but pastors like [David Platt] need to grow a pair. Just saying.” That tweet no longer appears on his timeline.

Context

I am guessing there were economic considerations at work here.  Falwell must have come to the conclusion that the tweet was not good for Liberty University.

What Did Trump Mean by Capitalizing the Word “TRAIL” in a Tweet About Elizabeth Warren?: Some Historical Context

Donald Trump tweeted this today:

Thoughts:

  1.  Trump is definitely worried about Warren’s candidacy.
  2.  Why did Trump capitalize the word “trail?” As an American historian, one thing comes to mind when I see the word “trail” emphasized in a tweet about native Americans.  That is the “Trail of Tears.” Perhaps you are unfamiliar with this tragic event in our history.  Learn more here.
  3.  Andrew Jackson initiated the Trail of Tears.  He believed native Americans were racially inferior and an impediment to the advancement of white settlement across the continent.
  4.  Jackson called Indian removal a “just, humane, liberal policy towards the Indians.”  This reminds me of Trump’s statements about his “humane” border wall. He has said on numerous occasions that the wall will protect both American citizens and the immigrants.
  5.  Jackson understood the removal of these Indian groups in the context of democracy.  In the 1830s, of course, democracy was white.  The white men who voted Jackson into office wanted Indian land.  Jackson heard their voice and gave then what they wanted by forcibly moving native Americans to present-day Oklahoma.
  6. Andrew Jackson’s portrait hangs prominently in Trump’s Oval Office.
  7. Is Trump really smart enough to know that capitalizing the word “trail” would send such a message?  If he is, this is blatantly racist and yet another appeal to one of America’s darkest moments.  (I mention other such appeals in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump).  If he does not know what this tweet implies, then it is just another example of the anti-intellectual clown we have in the Oval Office right now–a man who is completely unaware of the national story to which he has entered as president.

Tweet of the Day

I need to work on this.

I would add one more to Tommy’s list:

“Am I asking this question to show how smart I am?”  If I am, I can almost guarantee that few in the room will be impressed.

Kirsten Powers is Off Twitter

I am really sorry to see this.  I was a regular reader of Powers’s feed and always learned from her.  I will continue to watch her on CNN because she is one of the few independent thinkers on mainstream cable.  I was actually inspired by her strong stand on the Covington Catholic incident.

And for those evangelicals who harassed (not criticized, harassed) Powers, read this and then this.