Minnesota Representative, Michelle Bachmann, still holds the lead with respect to Republican ignorance of American History, with her comment that the Founding Fathers ended slavery.
But Huckabee is a close second. He started off the interview by reiterating his support for theologian, David Barton, a right-wing lunatic known for peddling his belief that separation of church and state is a myth to simpletons and the occasional white supremacist organization.
David is, I think, very much a historian, and I love his stuff, because he documents everything with source material, and he’s very specific about dates and times and he has a lot of original documents — Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence...
Notice that Huckabee incorrectly calls Barton a historian, but I'll let that pass, since it's normal for Christians to confuse theology with history. But, I will point out that Barton has zero history credentials. In fact, he barely even has academic credentials, since his degree is actually in religious eduction from Oral Roberts University.
What Huckabee likes about Barton is that Barton challenges the belief that the Founding Fathers intended to separate church and state.
There’s a perception among many that this is a completely secular nation and that the Judeo-Christian worldview was not a very significant part of our creation. I think it was, and that’s what I believe he’s trying to do...Separation of Church and State was a phrase that didn’t appear until a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in  1804, and it was written to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.
This is an argument frequently used by Republicans. The logic seems to be that since the phrase wasn't used until after the constitution, then the constitution couldn't possibly have meant to separate the two.
This is a preposterous and nonsensical argument. Jefferson used the phrase to easily sum up what Madison established with the First Amendment. Actually, we know that Madison, who authored the First Amendment, wanted to go much further than what the amendment actually states. Madison wanted to disestablish religion at both the federal and state level - the amendment only separates the two at the federal level. The 14th amendment later did it at the state level.
Huckabee, not really understanding the constitution, tried to change the subject, and turned to an earlier document for support.
Well, listen: take the Declaration of Independence, which was the establishment of our nation as an independent country.
Oops, he got the wrong also. The Declaration of Independence did not establish our country, the constitution did.
When it says, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,' if you read the early state constitutions, the states — and originally our government was supposed to be a rather weak, limited, and local form of government, with not a whole lot of power at the federal level.
Incorrect again. Yes, the states were suppose to have more power and the federal government less power, but that was not "our government," it was the Confederation. Huckabee conveniently forgot that we corrected that mistake with the constitution, which created a completely different government - the United States of America.
But in the state constitutions, there are some surprising things regarding the establishment of the government, to make sure that there was a Christian — or a Judeo-Christian — there were often these very explicit languages in the constitutions of states in New England that would probably not recognize those constitutions today.
Yes there are some very surprising things in those state governments. Things like no Jews, Catholics, or Atheists. Is that what Huckabee wants to return to? Which of those groups would he like to eliminate? I'm sorry, "eliminate" is too harsh. I meant, which of those groups would he like to reduce to second class citizenship? I know how PC Republicans like to be.
Thankfully, the 14th Amendment prohibits that today. How inconvenient that must be to Republicans - although it was Republicans who passed it following the Civil War.
Huckabee continued with an extended rant:
Now, what we’ve done over the past 240 years is, we have moved more and more power to the federal government. Let me be fair: this isn’t a Democrat / Republican thing, because Republicans have been just as adamant about moving that power more and more toward the federal government and away from cities and states. The danger is that, the closer you are to the people being governed, the more likely you are to get it right, because when you govern more locally, and in a more limited way
Madison disagrees with constitutional scholar Huckabee. Madison and the Founding Fathers were actually highly suspicious of democracy, precisely because the people would trample on the rights of minorities. It's why Hamilton saw democracy as "mob rule." And it's why Madison wanted the federal government to be able to veto laws passed by the states.
Jon Stewart rightfully called Huckabee out for his support of Barton. Stuart challenged:
But you’re gonna run for President and you call him a historian who you think should teach our children in public school. Now, that is the intersection of state and religion that makes some people — non-evangelical Christians — uncomfortable.
Huckabee responded with more gibberish that was edited out of the broadcast:
Some of us, Jon, are uncomfortable with the idea that we have history books today in which there is more material about, let’s say, Madonna, than there is about George Washington. That’s the thing.
Wow, I'd like to see that book. It's a common Republican tactic. When confronted with logic and reason that you can't respond to, make shit up.
I have no problem with people being ignorant about history. People have lives. They don't have time to read all the scholarship that's been produced on the subject. But at the same time, people who don't have the time to be smart, shouldn't pretend they know something, shouldn't run for president, and certainly shouldn't cite pseudo-historians, who preach to white supremest groups and Nazis.
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, April 7, 2011.
Jay Jordan Hawke is author of "A Scout is Brave," a novel about anti-gay bullying.