September 2011, Week 1


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Thu, 1 Sep 2011 19:02:06 -0400
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Perry Retreat Co-Host: Mlk Deserved No Credit On Civil

By Joy-Ann Reid
The Giro
August 24, 2011


While hundreds of thousands of Americans converge on
the National Mall to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
this weekend as the president dedicates a memorial to
the slain civil rights leader, Rick Perry, the newly
minted Republican Party presidential front-runner, will
be attending a retreat with a man who believes King
deserves no such honor.

The "call to action" retreat, reported by Politico's
Jonathan Martin earlier this month, will be hosted by a
prominent San Antonio doctor, Jim Leininger, and his
wife Cecilia. Among the co-hosts of the Fredericksburg,
Texas event, which is being called a "get together to
discuss the 2012 election," rather than a fundraiser,
will be David Barton, the founder of the evangelical
Christian group WallBuilders.

It's ironic that Perry will be spending the day before
the King memorial dedication with a man who has said
that King does not deserve credit for the revolutionary
changes in civil rights law that took place in the
1950s and 60s. Barton was among a group of Texas
conservatives who in 2010 sought to revise that state's
textbooks to promote their view that the notion of a
constitutional separation of church and state is a
myth, and that students should be taught a version of
American history that blends theology with themes of a
constant clash of civilizations between Christians and
Muslims. According to a Washington Monthly article in
January 2010, Barton, the former head of the Texas
Republican Party, and Peter Marshall, who the article
described as "a Massachusetts-based preacher who has
argued that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina
were God's punishment for tolerating gays," had even
more ideas in mind when they testified before the Texas
Education Assembly. Per the Washington Monthly:

    Barton and Peter Marshall initially tried to purge
    the standards of key figures of the civil rights
    era, such as Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall,
    though they were forced to back down amid a
    deafening public uproar. They have since resorted
    to a more subtle tack; while they concede that
    people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place
    in history, they argue that they shouldn't be given
    credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As
    Barton put it, "Only majorities can expand
    political rights in America's constitutional
    society." Ergo, any rights people of color have
    were handed to them by whites--in his view, mostly
    white Republican men.

Both men are described in the Washington Monthly
article as "self-styled historians," with no actual
training in the discipline. Barton has been featured
the resident "historian" at events and on the radio and
former Fox News television program of right wing gadfly
Glenn Beck.

Barton's views on race are unusual, to say the least.
He has promoted the notion that slavery was "forced" on
America by the British, and that even so, slavery was
allowed by God because it is the wages of societal sin.

He has said that black Americans should seek
reparations for slavery, but only from the Democratic
Party. And in 1991, Barton twice spoke to groups
associated with the white supremacist group Christian

One wonders what he and Perry and their other conferees
will discuss if the issue of race comes up at that
Texas retreat.


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