Book review: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

One of the most viewed posts on this blog is my review/comparison of the books A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and A Patriot’s History of the United States by Schweikart and Allen. I intended to read through both books and compare them chapter by chapter, but I gave up after a while – mostly because it was clear that the latter book was simply an attempt to rewrite history to confirm social conservatives’ belief that they are the best. It was propaganda for nationalists.

Whatever those two books are, neither of them hold a candle to An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. This book is heavy. The history related by Dunbar-Ortiz is raw and you need to know about it if you want to call yourself an American. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “Book review: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz”

Advertisements

Patriot’s vs People’s Part IV – This is the End

Patriot’s vs People’s is an analytical review of two books about American history that most would assume are politically opposed – Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s Guide to the History of the United States and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It started as an idea after I bought Zinn’s book and was given Schweikart and Allen’s by an uncle who so rightly explained his gift as a way for me to read “the other side of the story.” I decided to read them side by side, chapter by chapter, in order to compare and contrast the two works to each other. It didn’t go so well. This is Part IV, here are Part I, Part II and Part III.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fishy Facts

This post has been a long time coming. The first three posts of Patriot’s vs. People’s can be found here. I’m sorry to all my readers* to have to cut it off like this.

After reading fighting my way through Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought, I decided that I would never again waste time reading a book that wasn’t enjoyable or beneficial to me. That is why I have put down A Patriot’s History of the United States forever.

The first problem with Patriot’s is that it’s not well written. I know that alone is no reason to give up on a book. I don’t expect Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen – or any historian for that matter – to write like Shakespeare. But poor writing is merely the tip of the iceberg and I won’t focus on it more here. Pick up Patriot’s in the store and find out for yourself.

The other problem(s) depend on which type of person you are. You either know American history or you do not. I’m choosing these two extremes because Patriot’s is a waste of time for both of them, and therefore a waste of time for anyone in between. Let’s start from the viewpoint of someone who does not know American history. This is the only type of reader for whom Patriot’s can be of any value, but certain restrictions apply.

If you know nothing of American history and do not intend to read any American history books besides Patriot’s, you will not feel like you have wasted your time. Because the information in Patriot’s is factual. Patriot’s has a conservative bend to it, but the authors admit that (or at least they admit to being anti-liberal and they start the book with a transcript of a congratulatory interview with Rush Limbaugh). But that’s where the fun stops. Learn from anywhere but Patriot’s and you’re going to be disappointed, dear reader, because Patriot’s chooses its facts wisely.

And that’s where the problems start for readers who know any American history. The amount of holes in Patriot’s depends on how much you know about American history. The more you know, the sooner you will realize you are wasting your time. This is why I recommend Patriot’s only for those who both know nothing of American history and do not intend to learn any more from any other sources. Because the more you learn, the more you will realize you wasted your time reading Patriot’s.

The other problem you will have (and I sure did), no matter what type of reader you are, is personal. A Patriot’s History of the United States is insulting. When you think about it, it’s infuriating that Schweikart and Allen would write Patriot’s the way they did because their style assumes that you are an idiot. Why else would they pick and choose facts to support their biased opinion, lie and say it’s “an honest evaluation of the history of the United States,” and then not expect anyone to call their bluff? Because they are either shitty historians or they think you’re dumb.

I have nothing else to say about this. If I came off as irritated, it’s because I am. I’m upset that I wasted my time, but I’m slowing learning to move on. I will finish People’s, because even though it was as admittedly biased as Patriot’s, it was at least full of facts I don’t already know (and the writing is better – less condescending). But I doubt I’ll go back to it soon. I’m off American history for a while.

Up next: Under the Dome by Stephen King

*This post is especially dedicated to one Anonymous commenter, who was kind enough to not only read my other posts, but encourage me to keep writing. I just can’t do it, my friend. I’m too jaded. If you end up reading Patriot’s, feel free to let me know how it went – if you think it’s worth it.

Patriot’s vs People’s – Part III – Patriot’s Chapter 1

Patriot’s vs People’s is an analytical review of two books about American history that most would assume are politically opposed – Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s Guide to the History of the United States and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It started as an idea after I bought Zinn’s book and was given Schweikart and Allen’s by an uncle who so rightly explained his gift as a way for me to read “the other side of the story.” I decided to read them side by side, chapter by chapter, in order to compare and contrast the two works to each other. It didn’t go so well. This is Part III, here are Part I, Part II and Part IV.

There’s a New U.S. History Book in Town… Because the Old One Sucked

Patriot’s was written because Schweikart and Allen thought that People’s was insufficient, while People’s was written because Zinn thought older U.S. History books were insufficient. And the authors of those history books most likely thought the U.S. History books of their day were insufficient. And on and on…


But since People’s clearly states that it is not a complete history of America, it’s pretty much off the hook. It subverts the U.S. History book model by focusing on everything part of American history that has been either ignored or pushed under the rug.

Patriot’s, on the other hand, sets itself up for a monumental task – and potentially a monumental failure. So let’s look at how it falls short.

Since Patriot’s specifically called out People’s in its introduction, I’m actively watching for it to fall into the trap that People’s warns against. Its claims of being written specifically to right the wrongs perpetrated on Americans and American history by books such as People’s, has me scanning it extra-closely. Patriot’s should at least try to be better without committing the errors that People’s accuses other history books of, right? They should be able to beat People’s at its own game, right? Right?

I guess not. In making his case for People’s, Zinn accused historians of justifying atrocities by focusing on other matters. Specifically, Zinn called out the Columbus historian Samuel Eliot Morison for focusing too much on Columbus’s sailing skills and not enough on his, ahem, people skills. What do the authors of Patriot’sPatriot’s do? They quote Morison’s praise of Columbus.

But that’s OK. Allen and Schweikart probably weren’t expecting an audience that had aslo read People’s.

Let the Crazy Begin – Did Columbus Really Do “You Know What” to the Indians?

The concern that People’s raised is good to be adapted. A concern for misleading statements can go a long way. The problem with Patriot’s is it lays down such idiotic statements as this:

“[Columbus] did not, as is popularly believed, originate the idea that the earth is round. As early as 1480, for example, he read works proclaiming the sphericity of the planet. But knowing intellectually that the earth is round and demonstrating it physically are two different things.”

What the hell does that mean? What group of shitheads “popularly” believes Columbus originated the round-world idea? On second thought, I don’t want to know. But what’s this nonsense about knowing something intellectually and demonstrating it physically. I can hear the Apollo 11 astronauts right now as they went around the moon – “I knew it! Buzz, you asshole! I knew the moon wasn’t flat!”

Pictured, from left: The Moon is Round bet winner, Bookie, and bet Loser.

Patriot’s makes some other questionable statements, but they don’t amount to much more than ham-handed writing. In fact, while reading of Cortes’s military superiority of over the Aztecs, I couldn’t tell if Patriot’s was praising or condemning the Spaniards. I think this is a good thing and I hope Patriot’s keeps it up. While People’s has a narrow focus that could be praised for its goal, Patriot’s makes no small claims about it’s book. It’s trying to be the be all and end all of U.S. History books. It’s obviously going to make some mistakes on the way, but to write with an unbiased voice is impressive (especially since the beginning of Patriot’s was nothing but biased).

But then Patriot’s does something very strange. Right in the middle of the chapter, there’s an infoblock entitled “Did Columbus Kill Most of the Indians?” It comes out of nowhere and it includes nothing but misguided and misleading information. For example, here’s how the infoblock starts:

The five-hundred-year anniversary of Columbia’s discovery of was marked by unusual and strident controversy. Rising up to challenge the intrepid voyager’s courage and vision – as well as the establishment of European civilization in the New World – was a crescendo of damnation, which posited that the Genoese navigator was a mass murderer akin to Adolf Hitler. Even the establishment of European outposts was, according to the revisionist critique, a regrettable development. Although this division of interpretations no doubt confused and dampened many a Columbian festival in 1992, it also elicited a most intriguing historical debate: did the esteemed Admiral of the Ocean Sea kill almost all the Indians?

Besides “where the hell does this come from?” the next question is “what the hell is it doing here?” The authors go through five “reasons” that Columbus didn’t “kill most of the Indians, but the extreme carelessness of the authors to include this biased and misleading infoblock means one of two things. Either they don’t know that their arguments are misleading because they’re are idiots, or that they do know they are being misleading and they are just playing to the base because they’re assholes.

But let’s say it’s neither and that the arguments Patriot’s uses are valid. Since Patriot’s played the Hitler card first, would the same argumentative device would work for der Fuhrer? Let’s see. I’ll switch Columbus’s name for Hitler’s and “Jews” for “Indians” and leave you with the actual quote from Patriot’s.

Did Hitler kill most of the Jews?

1. First of all, estimating the number of Jews in Europe before Hitler’s arrival is very difficult. Some say there were as many as 8 million. [Actual quote: “Pre-Columbian native population numbers are much smaller than critics have maintained.” Remember, kids, you can’t kill what isn’t there.]

2. Jews were being slaughtered long before Hitler arrived. [Actual quote: “Native populations had epidemics long before Europeans arrived.” See that? The murder of thousands of Indians at the hands of invading Europeans is just another epidemic. This is where the authors of Patriot’s are being assholes. When germs kill millions of people, it’s called an epidemic. When people kill millions of people, it’s called genocide.]

3. There is little evidence available for estimating the numbers of Jews lost in warfare prior to Hitler. [Actual quote: “There is little evidence available for estimating the numbers of people lost in warfare prior to the Europeans.” So? What the hell does this have to do with anything? ]

4. Large areas of Germany and Central Europe were depopulated more than a hundred years before the arrival of Hitler. [Actual quote: “Large areas of Mexico and the Southwest were depopulated more than a hundred years before the arrival of Columbus.” Good thing Columbus didn’t land in Mexico or the Southwest. There would have been a lot less Indians for him to kill.]

5. European scholars have long appreciated the dynamic of small-state diplomacy, such as was involved in the Italian or German small states in the nineteenth century. What has been missing from the discussions about Jewish populations has been a recognition that in many ways the Jews resembled small states in Europe: they concerned themselves more with traditional enemies (other Jews) than with new ones (Nazis). [Actual quote: “European scholars have long appreciated the dynamic of small-state diplomacy, such as was involved in the Italian or German small states in the nineteenth century. What has been missing from the discussions about native populations has been a recognition that in many ways the tribes resembled small states in Europe: they concerned themselves more with traditional enemies (other tribes) than with new ones (whites).” That’s all fine and good, but that discussion about native populations resembling small states in Europe was missing from Columbus’ evaluation of them as well. Appreciating dynamics long after the fact doesn’t change the genocide brought on these native populations, dumbasses. Nice try.]

So you see, claims of the Hitler Holocaust are just silly. There is no way Hitler killed all the Jews. Sure, he’s responsible for killing millions of Jews, but he didn’t kill all of them. And don’t let any of those Marxist/leftist/communist/revisionist/elitist/whateverist historians tell you any different, ya hear?

The Best of the Rest

Surprisingly, the rest of the first chapter continues this flip-flop pattern between outlandish, American exceptionalist claims and even-headed, rational historical descriptions. It’s a little hard to take at times. Your senses will perk up to a sentence like, “English colonists found land so abundant that anyone could own it,” (“anyone” white, that is), when Patriot’s throws you a changeup with thoughtful sentences like, “New microbes transported by the Europeans generated a much higher level of infection than previously experienced by the Indians; then, in a vicious circle, warring Indian tribes spread the diseases among one another when they attacked enemy tribes and carried off infected prisoners.”

I could pick at other unsubstantiated and/or misleading claims in the first chapter – there’s plenty. I could praise the understanding and, yes, at times honest evaluations of history that Patriot’s makes. There are plenty of those too. But that’s not what I’m after with this series of articles. I’m trying to see which book offers a better view of U.S. History.

Unfortunately, Patriot’s isn’t very good at being a history book. It’s too basic so far. While none of the history in Patriot’s is news to me, I suppose it would be to someone who doesn’t know American history. The problem is, Patriot’s is 900 pages long. A competent scholar could write 900 pages on the arrival of Europeans in America and everyone from a business major to a history major would learn something. When Patriot’s covers the subject in 35 pages (and specifically omits the subject matter of People’s), don’t expect to learn much.

I’m really hoping that changes in the other chapters.

People’s vs Patriot’s – Part II – People’s Introduction

Patriot’s vs People’s is an analytical review of two books about American history that most would assume are politically opposed – Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s Guide to the History of the United States and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It started as an idea after I bought Zinn’s book and was given Schweikart and Allen’s by an uncle who so rightly explained his gift as a way for me to read “the other side of the story.” I decided to read them side by side, chapter by chapter, in order to compare and contrast the two works to each other. It didn’t go so well. This is Part II, here are Part I, Part III and Part IV.

Last week, I gave my review of the introduction to Schweikart and Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States. I went a bit harsh on them, but that’s only because the authors seemed to be suffering from an extreme case of confirmation bias. I guess that’s OK. We’re all guilty if it, just some of us are more guilty than others, I suppose.

It is now time to turn our inquiring minds to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Let’s hope Zinn can balance things better.

The title could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For the authors of Patriot’s, however, A People’s History of the United States, “honestly represents its Marxist biases in the title!” [Exclamation theirs] I’m not sure which part of the title is Marxist, but I’m guessing it’s the “People’s” part, probably because some communist countries are called the “People’s Republic of Whatever” and Marx is the godfather of communism. It’s an emotional salvo, but factually strained. Marx never published anything called A People’s anything and by Patriot’s logic, Google’s most Marxist result is…

The People’s Choice Awards. Seriously, Patriot’s? Lame sauce.

Other than the “Marxist” title, People’s has no introduction, no statement of purpose, no interviews, and no out-and-out chest thumping, acerbic, and/or combative blurb on the back, except for this:

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.

Such an altruistic aim – those people are often denied a voice in history books – but don’t worry. Although People’s begins with the history of the Native Americans encountering Columbus, it does include a thesis statement in this first chapter. It also includes interviews with Zinn and excerpts from his other books, but these are buried way in the back after the index, as if People’s thinks it has nothing to prove.

After describing the terrible things that Columbus’s men did to the Arawak Indians (“terrible things” = fucking genocide), Zinn says, “When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure – there is no bloodshed – and Columbus Day is a holiday.” This must be the line that pissed of Patriot’s authors enough to write their own non-Marxist version of American history for they claim that, according to “any mainstream U.S. history textbook,” “America’s past is a tale of racism, sexism, and bigotry.”

So what’s really in our kids’ U.S. History books – self-righteous heroic adventure or tawdry racist bigot sex? Who knows? Screw it. Let’s hope it’s both and move on.

People’s further elaborates its purpose with an exceptional admittance of the problems inherent in history books. Zinn makes the point that historians should neither lie outright nor by omission and then writes, “It is not that the historian can avoid emphasis of some facts and not of others […] My argument cannot be against selection, simplification, emphasis, which are inevitable […] for historians.” He not only admits his shortcomings (and the shortcomings of all historians), he goes on to the say that the decisions historians make in telling history serve (intentionally or not) to support “some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual.” So, is this a profound insight or cheap cop out? That probably depends on which side of the aisle you pee on.

Zinn then explains how emphasizing Columbus’s heroism and sailing abilities over the genocide committed by him and his men is an ideological choice that serves only to “justify what was done.” He’s got a point there, but he backs off a bit, saying that condemning “Columbus in absentia […] would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality.” I have to say that if he didn’t want his readers to do that, he shouldn’t have started off with the genocide of the Arawaks at the hands of Columbus.

Before coming to his main reasoning for writing People’s, Zinn says that the idea of the United States as “a community of people with common interests” and “national interest” found in the U.S. Constitution and laws of Congress are mere pretenses. He then delivers his thesis:

My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest […] And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.

Although People’s claims to tell the story of the “Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves,” etc., etc., Zinn says he doesn’t want to “grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners” nor to “invent victories for People’s movements.” He instead offers this lofty goal:

If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.

An astute reader, however, would notice that Zinn is indeed inventing victories for people’s movements. His earlier statements about how historians’ decisions serve to support interests means that Zinn either knows that inventing victories will be one of the consequences of his work or that he just unintentionally missed a major point in his own argument. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he knows he is being two-faced, he’s just doesn’t have the cajones to own up to it.

I’m not so sure, however, about the straw man argument that he invents later in the chapter. With his statement, “Was all this bloodshed and deceit – from Columbus to Cortes, Pizarro, the Puritans – a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization?” Zinn is drawing in any reader that ever felt suspicious, guilty, or angry with the expression “sacrifices were made.” But who is saying that “this bloodshed and deceit” were a necessity – Columbus, Cortes, Pizarro, and the Puritans? People’s is beating a 400-year old dead horse here.

Similarly, Zinn sets up another dubious argument when, speaking of the genocide of Native American tribes, he says, “Beyond all that, how certain are we that what was destroyed was inferior?” Again, who is calling the Native Americans inferior? Columbus, Cortes & Co. made those decisions centuries ago – not me, nor Zinn, nor Patriot’s Schweikart and Allen (At least, not that I know of).

I can sort of understand if Zinn is trying to get his readers to place more stock in the Indians, but he’s not doing it right. Basically, he’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. He writes:

They [the Native Americans] were people without a written language, but with their own laws, their poetry, their history kept in memory and passed on, in an oral vocabulary more complex than Europe’s, accompanied by song, dance and ceremonial drama. They paid careful attention to the development of personality, intensity of will, independence and flexibility, passion and potency, to their partnership with one another and with nature.

But this is just sentimental bullshit that sells Europeans short. “An oral vocabulary more complex than Europe’s?” What the hell is that? And what the hell does he mean by Indians paying “careful attention to […] flexibility?” Or “passion and potency?” Nothing. He means nothing. He’s just trying to get his readers to view Native Americans as more than savages, which is insulting to any reader with a working brain.

Another problem with this portrait of Native Americans is that Zinn falls into his own trap when he lumps the Native Americans together as one people. What happened to “Nations are not communities and never have been?” Or to “The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest?” Hmmm? It’ not OK to lump the Americans together as a whole, but it is OK to lump Indians together? I thought we were supposed “to not be on the side of the executioners” and to not group whole swaths of people together, as Columbus did with the Indians. In fact, I’m not even sure Columbus did that. Whatever.

Zinn sums up his motivation and goal with People’s very nicely in the last sentence:

Even allowing for the imperfection of myths, it is enough to make us question, for that time and ours, the excuse of progress in the annihilation of races, and the telling of history from the standpoint of the conquerors and leaders of Western civilization.

When I first read this line, I thought it showed that Zinn was combative, possibly a bit short-sighted, and maybe trying to sell his point to strongly because there is obviously a great need for the history of all people – the more the merrier. But now when I reread that line, I think it shows Zinn laying open a consideration that any inquisitive reader has had while reading history. It is a noble aim and the sentence tells readers what they will be getting with People’s, which is a welcome skeptical view of history as usual.

Let’s just hope it stays that way.

Patriot’s vs People’s – Part I – Patriot’s Introduction

Patriot’s vs People’s is an analytical review of two books about American history that most would assume are politically opposed – Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s Guide to the History of the United States and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It started as an idea after I bought Zinn’s book and was given Schweikart and Allen’s by an uncle who so rightly explained his gift as a way for me to read “the other side of the story.” I decided to read them side by side, chapter by chapter, in order to compare and contrast the two works to each other. It didn’t go so well. This is Part I, here are Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Everything leading up to Patriot’s first chapter, from the phrase on its spine to the introduction, not only has me looking for inspiration to read the rest of the work, but is carefully crafted to appeal to one particular type of reader. In my analysis below, I’ll number the clues to which type of reader Patriot’s is written for in order to make a nice and handy list when we’re done.

The phrase on Patriot’s spine, “From Columbus’ Great Discovery…,” starts off the tone on the work. It smacks of selfishness. The back isn’t much better. I’ll quote it here in full:

Is America’s past a tale of racism, sexism, and bigotry? Is it the story of the conquest and rape of a continent? Is U.S. history the story of white slave owners who perverted the electoral process for their own interests? Did America start with Columbus’s killing of all the Indians, leap to Jim Crowe laws and Rockefeller crushing the workers, then finally save itself with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal? The answers, of course, are no, no, no, and NO. [Emphasis not mine – JM]
One might never know this, however, by looking at almost any mainstream U.S. history textbook. Having taught American history in one form or another for close to sixty years between them, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen are aware that, unfortunately, many students are berated with the tales of the Founders as self-interested politicians and slaveholders, of the icons of American industry as robberbaron oppressors, and of every American foreign policy initiative as imperialistic and insensitive.
The authors of A Patriot’s History think that an honest evaluation of the history of the United States must begin and end with the recognition that, compared to any other nation, America’s past is a bright and shining light. America was, and is, the city on the hill, the foundation of hope, the beacon of liberty. They utterly reject “My country, right or wrong” – what scholar wouldn’t? But in the last thirty years, academics have taken an equally destructive approach: “My country, always wrong!” Schweikart and Allen reject that too.
Cover design by Joseph Perez
Whew! It’s going to be hard not to take pot shots at this book. For starters, the first paragraph is right and wrong. While America’s past most definitely does include racism, sexism, and bigotry, the paragraph implies that America’s past includes more than these things. Whoddathunkit?
The second paragraph just baffles me. None of the textbooks I read in school ever said anything about U.S. history being “the story of the conquest and rape of a continent.” And how do Allen and Schweikart know that “students are berated with tales of the Founders as self-interested politicians” unless they’re doing the berating (sorry, that one slipped out).
The third paragraph elaborates on the selfishness of the phrase on the spine. Why does an “honest evaluation of the history of the United States” have to be a comparison? Also, empty phrases like “city on the hill” and “beacon of liberty” serve only to trivialize an honest evaluation of any country’s history.
After reading the back, the main concern I have about Patriot’s is that it will fall victim to pointing out the better aspects of America’s history while omitting the worse. I’m afraid it will deliberately tell only one side of the story. In People’s, Zinn warns against this by saying, “One can outright lie about the past. Or one can omit facts which might lead to unacceptable conclusions […] outright lying or omission takes the risk of discovery which, when made, might arouse the reader to rebel against the writer.” (8) You can see my concern – I’m already rebelling against Patriot’s and I haven’t even opened it up yet.
Unfortunately, the beginning of Patriot’s doesn’t inspire any more hope in me, but it does help cement my idea of who this book is written for. Patriot’s starts with an interview of its co-author Harry Schweikart by Rush Limbaugh. There’s one of two reasons for doing this. Either they’re trying to further prove who the book is for (hint, hint, it’s conservatives) [clue #1]or they’re trying to sell more books. Neither possibility bodes well for Patriot’s since the authors/publishers either think their targeted audience is too dumb to realize that Patriot’s is written just for them or they don’t trust their book to stand on its own without the help of the big dog himself, Captain Restraint – Rush Limbaugh.
My real problem with the Limbaugh interview, however, is the bold message it sends to any reader who is not an out-and-out right-wing conservative (hey, that’s me!). As I already said, I’m afraid Patriot’s will be nothing more than just one long tome of chest-pumping, flag waving, “real” American patriotism wrapped up in the guise of history. If the Limbaugh praise is foreshadowing this, Patriot’s is going to get old real fast because the only purpose that type of prose serves is to make words like patriot, liberty, and freedom meaningless.
The interview could be picked apart, but it suffers from two problems, both of which are common with Limbaugh. The first is the antagonism inherent in conservatives like Limbaugh. You’re either with them or against them. They are right, so you are wrong. The second problem is the psychopathic desire to protect their beliefs. Do not try to confuse them with facts. There is only one side of the story worth telling and that is the side they believe in (surprise!). This desire is usually manifested by someone like Limbaugh claiming victimhood in order to rally any like-minded listeners to support whatever belief is the topic of the day. If you have any doubts, you are not needed. The white man marches on… without you.
The introduction of Patriot’s brings up another concern I have with this book. Patriot’s is aggressive to the point of insulting. The authors write as if the reader is a blank slate, completely incapable of forming independent thoughts or noticing contradicting statements. In the absence of such readers, the only way this works is when the audience wholeheartedly agrees with the authors before reading even the first sentence.[Clue #2]
In the introduction, Patriot’s authors claim that America and its Founding Fathers are extraordinary because they are full of character. Unfortunately for them, however, praising character in prose also means being selfish and delusional. They say, “No society is free from corruption. The difference is that in America, corruption is viewed as the exception, not the rule.” It makes one wonder why the US isn’t the least corrupt country in the world. I guess that in Chile and Qatar, less corruption than in America is viewed as the rule.
Patriot’s authors also fall into a trap of their own design in two ways. First, they can’t even beat the leftists/Marxists at their own game. The introduction mentions no women, no black men, no Native Americans, and only two Europeans – Andrew Carnegie and Arnold Schwarzenegger (seriously) [clue #3]. They quote Lincoln, but don’t give him credit (“the United States is the ‘last, best hope’ of earth”) and they completely fail to either quote or give credit to Martin Luther King Jr. (“But it was not the color of the skin of the people who came here that made them special, it was the content of their character.”). Come on, Patriot’s! Show them fascist/Marxist/commies whose boss! They are getting history all wrong because they focus on women and black people instead of character, right? So show them that it’s the character of women and black people that made this nation what it is.
But Patriot’s can’t beat any other version of history at its own game. It doesn’t work in their style of argument. Engaging with any other side, in any way except with knee-jerk insults, would lend validity to that other side, which can’t happen in Lambaughland because everything is black or white, right or wrong. History includes what they say and only what they say. For example, the authors write, “Honor counted to founding patriots like Adams, Jefferson, Washington, and then later, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Character counted. Property was also important; no denying that, because with property came liberty.” But they fail to mention that with a 21-year-old, white, property-owning penis came the right to vote. I guess women and black people didn’t count that much to the founding patriots.
Let’s tally the clues to see what kind of reader Patriot’s is intended for:
  1. They’re trying to further prove who the book is for (hint, hint, it’s conservatives)
  2. The only way Patriot’s works is when the audience wholeheartedly agrees with the authors before reading even the first sentence
  3. The introduction mentions no women, no black men, no Native Americans, and only two Europeans
So if you’re a conservative white male who wants a slap on the back, you’re in luck. So far, Patriot’s is for you. And it’s here to further solidify beliefs with cut and pasted facts. You won’t be wrong, you just won’t know the whole story.

I really hope Patriot’s doesn’t turn out this way, but everything before the first chapter leads me to believe it will. The authors are insulting to me and I’m their preferred audience member. I’m a white, American male. I’m their guy (sort of). I can only imagine how my mother or sister would feel reading this.