The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
I saw this book in the bookstore about a month ago, leafed through it, and tossed it aside, shaking my head in disgust.
Of course, I knew it would be beloved by the same folks that embraced Ann Coulter and Rush – the folks who have no real interest in whether a thing is true or not, just in whether in shores up their worldview – but I’m still discouraged to find out it’s number eight on the NYT bestseller list.
Here’s what today’s NYTimes editorial has to say about it, in part:
More than a history, it is a checklist of arch-conservative talking points. The New Deal public works programs that helped millions survive the Depression were a "disaster," and Social Security "damaged the economy." The Marshall Plan, which lifted up devastated European nations after World War II, was a "failed giveaway program." And the long-discredited theory of "nullification," which held that states could suspend federal laws, "isn't as crazy as it sounds."
It is tempting to dismiss the book as fringe scholarship, not worth worrying about, but the numbers say otherwise. It is being snapped up on college campuses and, helped along by plugs from Fox News and other conservative media, it recently soared to No. 8 on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list. It is part of a boomlet in far-right attacks on mainstream history that includes books like Jim Powell's "FDR's Folly," which argues that Franklin Roosevelt made the Depression worse, and Michelle Malkin's "In Defense of Internment," a warm look back on the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The editorial goes on to note the real dangers of this revisionist tack Conservatives are taking these days:
It is not surprising, in the current political climate, that liberal pieties are being challenged, and many of them ought to be. But the latest revisionist histories are disturbing both because they are so extreme - even Ronald Reagan called the Japanese internment a "grave wrong" and signed a reparations law - and because they seem intent on distorting the past to promote dangerous policies today. If Social Security contributed to the Depression, it makes sense to get rid of it now. If internment was a good thing in 1942, think what it could do in 2005. And if the 14th Amendment, which guarantees minorities "equal protection of the law," was never properly ratified - as Mr. Woods argues - racial discrimination may be constitutional after all.
I keep trying to convince myself that the Right can’t really be trying to take us back to the world where people of color were routinely abused, where women had no rights, where anyone who wasn’t a white male adult Christian could be treated like a criminal – I mean, they can’t really want to go back to that country, can they?
But read James Dobson.
Listen to Rush Limbaugh.
Have a look at Ann Coulter’s columns, sometime, if you can stand it (and yes, I know she’s female – so what? So’s Michelle Malkin.)
That’s exactly what they’re arguing for.
9 hours ago