Rush Limbaugh’s “True Story of Thanksgiving” is a lie-filled load of stuffing that turns villains into victims
Every Thanksgiving, like clockwork, an email makes its way around the inboxes of conservative Americans across the country — along with those of the unsuspecting family members and friends to whom they may forward it. The missive claims to tell “The True Story of Thanksgiving.” In reality, all it does is further propagate myths and lies about the already greatly misunderstood holiday.
Limbaugh tells the same story each November, lifted from chapter six, “Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You,” of his 1994 book, “See, I Told You So.” The accuracy in Limbaugh’s telling of the story basically ends with the title of the chapter — it is indeed a story about dead white guys, and it is a story that, truthfully, is not told in history books.
But the reason it is not told in history books is not, as Limbaugh implies, because the real story has been hidden, stifled, repressed; rather, the reason it is not told in history books is because it is not actual history. It is ahistorical right-wing propaganda; it is conservative mythology that was conjured to defend an idealized, fictitious representation of the United States of America and its origins.
In Limbaugh’s telling, which is echoed ad nauseam by the Tea Party, the Pilgrims were early-17th-century socialists who created a “forerunner to the communes we saw in the ’60s and ’70s out in California.” Their supposed socialist experiment, Limbaugh insists, “didn’t work. They nearly starved!”
It was only by abandoning collective ownership of property and adopting capitalist principles, Limbaugh insists, that the Pilgrims subsequently flourished. To celebrate their success, and to give thanks to God and the Almighty Free Market, the conservative pundit maintains, the colonists created Thanksgiving.
Supply-side economics “existed before the 1980s,” he insists, referring to the euphemistic name for top-down free-market economic policies implemented by Ronald Reagan. The colonists “set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans.”
“It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day,” Limbaugh concludes, which he says is “acknowledged by George Washington in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789″ — a proclamation in which Washington mentions neither capitalism nor Scripture (although he does mention science).
Rush Limbaugh uses the story in order to bludgeon socialism. In the process, he also bludgeons history.