A few weeks ago, we posted some audio clips from a “WallBuilders Live” radio program in which David Barton explained the concept of just war theory during which he justified the brutal treatment of Native Americans by white settlers and the American government on the grounds that they needed to be destroyed in order to be taught a lesson and eventually made civilized.
Shortly thereafter, WallBuilders posted a message on its Facebook page claiming that Barton was not “justifying” this sort of treatment but merely “explaining” what had happened:
David was not justifying, but merely explaining the historical context of what happened, in the same way that he explained the British march to the sea. He made a parallel between the two as to tactics and strategy that were used during war at that time. David was explaining the historical events regarding King Philip’s War, not the atrocities that were in general committed against the Indian tribes and nations, which we in no way condone. There is a big difference between justifying and merely explaining or reporting.
Like so much of Barton’s work, this explanation holds up only so long as one blindly accepts Barton’s nonsensical interpretation and doesn’t bother to verify what he says, which is pretty easy since we produced a transcript of it at the time.
As anyone can see, Barton was not merely “explaining” what happened but was actively defending it on the grounds that “you cannot reason with certain types of terrorists.” As Barton said at the time, the Indians had “declared war on all the white guys” and so “we had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over” until they got the message:
You have to deal, a lot of it, with how the enemy responds. It’s got to be based on what the enemy responds [to,] you cannot reason with certain types of terrorists; and see that’s why we could not get the Indians to the table to negotiate with us on treaties until after we had thoroughly whipped so many tribes … What happened was the Indian leaders said “they’re trying to change our culture” and so they declared war on all the white guys and went after the white guys and that was King Philip’s War. It was really trying to be civilized on one side and end torture and the Indians were threatened by the ending of torture and so we had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said “oh, got the point, you’re doing to us what we’re doing to them, okay, we’ll sign a treaty.”
Take, for example, what happened in the western plains wars in the late 1800s when we were taking on the plains Indians. I’m not talking about treaties, I’m not talking about behavior of Americans toward Indians or vice versa, there were violations on both sides of nearly every treaty. I’m talking about what happened in ending those wars after Custer and everything that went on.
People complain about the fact that the American military and buffalo hunters went out and wiped out all the buffalo in the western plains. Doing that was what brought the Indians to their knees because the Indians lived on those wide western plains where there were very few towns; Indians didn’t go into town to buy supplies, they went to the buffalo herds, that’s where they got their meat, that’s where they got their coats, the hides provided coats, they provided covering for their teepees.
If you don’t have the buffalos, those Indians cannot live on the open western plains without those buffalo and so what happened was the military wiped out the supply line by wiping out the buffalo. That’s what brought those wars to an end, that’s what brought the Indians to their knees and ended all the western conflict.
The focus of the radio program was a discussion of just war theory and Barton’s purpose in bringing up this issue was to explain that these tactics were justified specifically because they do not appear to be justifiable.
Barton was not merely “explaining” what had happened, but was justifying it on the grounds that when your enemies refuse to abide by the “rules of civilization, you still have to secure the life and the property and the protection of your citizens” in whatever way you can.