Today’s episode of “Wallbuilders Live” with David Barton and Rick Green was dedicated to responding “to the accusations against some of American’s early key figures claiming them to be guilty of homosexuality.”
Apparently, a recent episode of the History Channel’s “America: The Story of Us” claimed that Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who is credited with instilling military skills and discipline in Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was gay.
But Barton was having none of it and, in a bit of amazing irony, attacked Randy Shilts, author of “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military” for engaging in historical revisionism by highlighting only the things that supported his claim while ignoring anything that didn’t.
I have no idea whether von Steuben was gay and don’t really think it is particularly relevant … but apparently Barton and Green decided it was important to attack this claim because otherwise people would start using it in pressing for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
A lot of Barton’s points during this broadcast seem to have come out of the 2001 document he wrote called “Homosexuals in the Military” which claims, among others things, that the Founding Fathers vehemently opposed homosexuality in general and would never have accepted it in the military.
Toward the end of the broadcast Barton read from a “great legal writing from back then [that] explains exactly why they reacted so violently against this particular vice: homosexuality … it is such a good lay out of the progression that occurs once you start accepting this advice.”
Barton also cited this “great legal writing” in his 2001 piece and here it is:
John David Michaelis, author of an 1814 four-volume legal work, outlined why homosexuality must be more strenuously addressed and much less tolerated than virtually any other moral vice in society:
If we reflect on the dreadful consequences of sodomy to a state, and on the extent to which this abominable vice may be secretly carried on and spread, we cannot, on the principles of sound policy, consider the punishment as too severe. For if it once begins to prevail, not only will boys be easily corrupted by adults, but also by other boys; nor will it ever cease; more especially as it must thus soon lose all its shamefulness and infamy and become fashionable and the national taste; and then . . . national weakness, for which all remedies are ineffectual, most inevitably follow; not perhaps in the very first generation, but certainly in the course of the third or fourth. . . . To these evils may be added yet another, viz. that the constitutions of those men who submit to this degradation are, if not always, yet very often, totally destroyed, though in a different way from what is the result of whoredom.
Whoever, therefore, wishes to ruin a nation, has only to get this vice introduced; for it is extremely difficult to extirpate it where it has once taken root because it can be propagated with much more secrecy . . . and when we perceive that it has once got a footing in any country, however powerful and flourishing, we may venture as politicians to predict that the foundation of its future decline is laid and that after some hundred years it will no longer be the same . . . powerful country it is at present.
Now, I have no idea how John David Michaelis managed to author this in 1814 … considering that his name was Johann David Michaelis and he died in 1791.
But this is typical Barton: mistakenly presenting history while citing the views of some arcane German biblical scholar from over two hundred years ago as if they were relevant to public policy discussions today.