Rush Limbaugh went on an extended rant, suggesting that young people should toughen up, and do whatever they have to, citing the Donner Party's unfortunate cannibalism as proof of American exceptionalism.
July 16, 2020

A few days ago Rush Limbaugh went on an extended rant complaining that COVID-19 was no excuse to stay home and not suffer and support Donald Trump.

Limbaugh claimed during the Spanish flu, Woodrow Wilson didn't even mention it because he was preoccupied with World War I. A super spreader event?

Woodrow Wilson? Never talked about it, there was no national policy to deal with it. There was no shutdown, there was just, “Hey, go outside, get some fresh air, stand in the sun as long as you can, get some vitamin D, feel better.”

That's the ticket, hey everybody get some sunshine, shake a few hands, hug a few people and breathe deeply in to get those coronavirus particles and show your love for Trump.

Limbaugh then went off on a tangent about California settlers called the Donner Party who turned to cannibalism to survive a brutal winter trying to get to California.

You’ve heard of the Donner Party? Maybe some of you haven’t. The Donner Party, the Donner family and a bunch of travelers trying to get to California over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They made the mistake of trying to make the trip in the middle of winter. We’re talking the Lake Tahoe region. They get to the peak. It was so bad that they had to turn to cannibalism to survive. That’s what’s noteworthy about the Donner Party. If you read the diaries written by the leaders of the Donner Party, the only reference to how cold it was, was one sentence: “It was a particularly tough winter.”

American pioneers sacrificed for America, right?

It’s just what was. They didn’t complain about it, because there was nothing they could do. They had to adapt. This is what’s missing. There seems to be no concept of adaptation. There seems to be no understanding in the Millennial generation that we can adapt to this, and that we’re going to have to

The Donner Party didn't bitch and complain about the winter when they set out in the freezing cold and the unimaginable hunger they felt. Oh no, they cooked up some juicy neighbor along the way to survive and had a little American barbecue because that's the American way.

The Nation writes:

This account makes clear that for Limbaugh the cannibalism wasn’t an unfortunate tragedy in an otherwise awe-inspiring story about surviving adversity. Rather, the cannibalism is the whole point of the story: It is the evidence of fortitude and toughness.

But that economic position is intertwined with a moral system, one that sees suffering as socially necessary. “Suffering builds character” is perhaps the quickest way to sum up this worldview.

This is a very selective stoicism. After all, Limbaugh is hardly the type to join the Donner Party himself. The risks for Covid mostly fall on people who are very unlike Limbaugh: the poor and people of color. So it’s not so much that suffering builds character as suffering helps keep the lower order in line.

Seth Meyers roasted him for it:

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