Over the weekend, Steven Thomma at McClatchy News had a terrific piece that was a decent corrective to some of the bad history that's being bandied about by right-wingers like Glenn Beck these days:
In articles and speeches, on radio and TV, conservatives are working to redefine major turning points and influential figures in American history, often to slam liberals, promote Republicans and reinforce their positions in today's politics.
The Jamestown settlers? Socialists. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton? Ill-informed professors made up all that bunk about him advocating a strong central government.
Theodore Roosevelt? Another socialist. Franklin D. Roosevelt? Not only did he not end the Great Depression, he also created it.
Joe McCarthy? Liberals lied about him. He was a hero.
Some conservatives say it's a long-overdue swing of the pendulum after years of liberal efforts to define history on their terms in classrooms and in popular culture.
"We are adding balance," Texas school board member Don McLeroy said. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."
The upshot of this wave of historical revisionism -- which was kicked off, in many regards, with the publication of Jonah Goldberg's fraudulent rewrite of history, Liberal Fascism -- is to depict the progressive movement as the source of all evils that have befallen America since the dawn of time. That's why Glenn Beck has embarked on a campaign of eliminationism against progressives.
Beck provided a splendid example of this miscarriage of history last month when he ran a segment claiming that FDR actually admired Mussolini by citing a selective quote. (In fact, many people were enamored of Mussolini's words, early on, and then were disabused by his actions.) Somehow left out of the discussion: The fact that FDR declared war on Mussolini and effectively drove him from power. Yeah, that's some admiration society.
But really, the entire enterprise is utter bosh. As we've pointed, at least in respect to middle- and working-class economics, and civil rights, there's a whole bunch of things Beck and his cohorts are omitting from the picture.
Let's just talk, for a moment, about the many things Americans enjoy -- and largely take for granted -- that were the product of the progressive movement. Here, just off the top of my head, are my Top 12:
- The 40-hour work week.
- The right of women to vote.
- The right of people of all colors to vote.
- The right of people of all colors to use public schools and facilities.
- Public schools.
- Child-labor laws.
- The right to unionize.
- Health-care benefits.
- National Parks.
- National Forests.
Those are just for starters. I bet you can come up with some of your own.
Saying you believe the progressive movement has brought evil on the nation should logically suggest that you want to reverse the reforms that it has produced. That is, you're saying you want to take these 12 things away, too.
That might not be such a popular thing to do, ya know?