Jesse Lee Peterson is an African-American evangelical who hosts a radio program.
- “Thanks God” for slavery and the “white man” who brought his ancestors to America.
- Does not believe woman’s suffrage.
- Is not happy that Muslims, non-Christians, and homosexuals have become “first-class citizens” in America.
- Believes Blacks stayed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina because they were expecting the federal government to save them and were too lazy to get out.
- Once called Nelson Mandela an “evil man” and suggested that South Africa was “better under apartheid.”
- Believes that Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and the Democratic Party “hate Blacks” and W.E.B. Du Bois was a “communist, socialist, pig.”
- Thinks Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to give marriage licences to gay couples in 2015, is a “modern-day Rosa Parks.”
- Insists Barack Obama is not a Christian
As part of his self-proclaimed “White History Month,” Peterson recently had David Barton on his radio show. Barton is the pro-Trump GOP activist who uses the past to make political points in the present.
Barton thinks “white history month” is “fun.” At the same time, he seems very uncomfortable with the whole thing.
It’s the usual stuff:
- Columbus was a Christian hero.
- Juneteenth is bad and it should not be a federal holiday.
- Public schools should not open in the Fall because they indoctrinate students to hate history. This is a great moment to strengthen the home-school lobby.
- Barton says public schools don’t teach students how to “think.” I am sure there are thousands and thousands of teachers who might disagree with him here. And many of these public school teachers are Christians. For Peterson and Barton, any students who learn to “think” they become members of the Christian Right.
- Barton defends Confederate monuments, including a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest. He confuses statues with history education. For Barton, history is just a big morality play.
- Barton wants to talk about free blacks who owned slaves and Native Americans who owned black slaves. He says that Native Americans were the “highest black-owning group in America.” Read this please.
- Barton has obviously never set foot in a public school history classroom. He seems to think that history teachers are just cherry-picking facts to serve a political agenda. There are probably some Howard Zinn disciples who do this, but most teachers know that effective history teachers are in the business of teaching their kids how to detect bias through close readings of primary sources. This whole discussion is ironic coming from a guy who has been debunked by virtually every professional American historian for his manipulation of the past to serve his own present-day political agenda. There is a reason why Barton edged out Zinn for the “least credible history book in print.”
- I know I’ve pointed this out a few times, but I wonder what Barton would think about the tearing-down of this statue?
- Barton condemns white evangelical pastors for supporting racial reconciliation.
- In a convoluted argument, Barton seems to suggest that white people are “licking the boots” (Peterson’s phrase) of Black people because white people don’t know how to rise-up and defend their race like African Americans and Hispanics. It sounds like Barton is saying that white people are “taking a knee” to Black people because they never learned how to defend their whiteness. I wonder if Barton knows that he just made an argument in favor of white identity politics. This is Trump, Steven Miller, Breitbart News, and alt-Right stuff.
I’ll end with this:
Folks need to stop tearing down monuments. It just gives fodder to people like Barton and Peterson. It allows them to spread fear to their evangelical followers and claim that America is under spiritual attack. This is one of the two or three things left that still might get Trump re-elected in 2020. Let’s have a conversation about monuments and race in America, but tearing-down U.S. Grant or George Washington doesn’t help.