Timing is everything. I am teaching the Federalist Papers and the Constitution later today. In searching for a clip from the PBS on slavery and the founding, I came across the above gem from the one and only pseudo-historian David Barton. Several months ago I posted a gem where Barton gave a Christian-approved tour of the Capital and Washington D.C. where he exposed the "hidden" history of the framers and the founding of the Republic to a crying and emotionally-moved audience.
To my eyes, Barton's expose on how the Constitution is an anti-slavery document is yet another blood boiling exercise in professional lying. His lie is also a genius exercise in propaganda. Here, Douglass's demand that the Constitution lives up to its potential regarding human liberty and freedom is actually a device for Barton to frame the 3/5th's clause as a demonstration of the framers' anti-slavery intent.
This is a common canard for Conservatives who worship the Constitution as a document divinely inspired, and its authors as perfect men--as opposed to people who were pragmatists, with a particular class and racial interest that they were working to protect, all the while crafting a very narrow and anti-populist document.
Ultimately, the Constitution is a pro-slavery, Southern document that protects the rights, privileges, and property of a very narrow part of the population at the expense of others. The Constitution is also practical, radical, and genius. That does not at all absolve the document from the stains of white supremacy which penetrate it. For the Constitution's authors, these facts are not contradictions or problems for their "democratic" project.
Barton is a genius liar. I admire his craft while condemning his dishonesty and ethics. But then again, maybe Barton actually believes the pablum that he is selling to the mouth breathing Christian Conservative Republican Nationalist crowd?
Help me understand. Why would any educated, reasonable, and historically aware person buy into Barton's lies about the Constitution when the truth is far more interesting and compelling?