The social conservative and right-wing historian David Barton has reportedly filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against two Texas Democrats, because he alleges they falsely portrayed him as a sympathizer with white supremacists.
Earlier this month, Barton filed suit in Texas against two former candidates for the State Board of Education (SBOE), Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Judy Jennings, as well as an internet blogger who posted on Examiner.com under the name W.S. Smith. Both Jennings and Bell-Metereau lost their elections.
Barton, who some critics have called a “Christian nationalist history revisionist,” founded the group WallBuilders, which argues that America has taken the separation of church and state too far.
He alleges that Bell-Metereau and Jennings defamed him in a campaign YouTube video last September, in which they criticized his “expert” testimony before the Texas Board of Education in 2009 during hearings to adapt new curriculum standards for textbooks.
Barton, the ad said, is “known for speaking at white supremacist rallies [and] says taxes on Wall Street executives go against the principles of the Bible.”
Here’s the video:
The suit asks for unspecified damages for opening Barton and WallBuilders to “public hatred, contempt, ridicule, financial injury and impeaching [Barton’s] honesty, integrity and virtue,” according to the Weatherford Democrat.
One of the “white supremacist rallies” referenced in the video is likely when Barton appeared at a summer retreat in Colorado in the early 90s, sponsored by Scriptures for America. The Anti-Defamation League ties Scriptures for America to the “Christian Identity” movement, which argues that Jews are a threat to civilization and black people and other minorities are inferior to white people. The ADL also calls Pete Peters, the leader of the group, a “a leading anti-Jewish, anti-minority and anti-gay propagandist.”
In 1993, in response to criticism over the appearance, WallBuilders wrote that at the time they “had absolutely no idea” that the head of the group was a white supremacist. “Simply because David Barton gives a presentation to a group of people,” the letter said, “does not mean that he endorses all their beliefs.” Read the letter here (.pdf).
Kathy Miller, President of the progressive right-wing watchdog group Texas Freedom Network, argued in a statement Tuesday that “it’s puzzling” that Barton is filing this suit now, when this is “something that has been in the public record for nearly two decades - his past associations with groups reportedly tied to white supremacist and anti-Semitic movements.”
“I think it’s one of those cases of a frivolous lawsuit,” Bell-Meterea told the Democrat. “The people who were helping me with my campaign were very scrupulous about fact-checking everything we put out.”
Barton and WallBuilders did not return TPM’s request for comment.