Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh is the author of two new books that have driven the political left into conniption fits.
What Mr. Limbaugh’s critics find intolerable is that these are children’s books. The first, “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims,” narrates the story of the Pilgrims’ emigration to America in search of religious freedom. The second, “Rush Revere and the First Patriots,” describes the events leading up to the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and protests against the Stamp Act.
What makes these books so offensive to progressives is that Mr. Limbaugh has the audacity to challenge them on their own turf. The great irony of the 20th century is that while the United States won the Cold War abroad, we lost the battle at home for the hearts and minds of our children. While Ronald Reagan was preoccupied with defeating the Soviet Union, the left was quietly cementing its control over American education. Public schools in this nation, from kindergarten through graduate school, are quietly but effectively destroying our country by teaching our youth to hate it.
Many of us were dumbfounded by Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. We couldn’t understand how the same people who gave President Reagan two landslide victories could return Mr. Obama to office. Elections can be important, but we have to stop viewing them as causes and learn to see them as effects. When an entire generation has been indoctrinated into loathing their heritage, it should come as no surprise that they want a leader who shares their values. No campaign can change this.
Mr. Limbaugh’s books are effective because they are dedicated to the promulgation of our founding myths. If by the word “myth,” you think I am referring to something that is not true, you have entirely misunderstood me. A myth is not just true, it is truer than true because it is the distillation of an essential truth. As Joseph Campbell explained, “the rise and fall of civilizations is a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth.” Our myths speak to our aspirations. They are more than just historical facts because they inform us of who we are and why our country is worthy of continuance. Myth is identity. If we don’t understand who we are, we are already lost.
The most important of the American myths is American exceptionalism. Nations usually arise from accidents of geography, culture or religion. However, the United States is unique in world history because it is the only nation expressly built upon an idea. This idea is that people are born with inalienable natural rights and that governments exist to protect and preserve these rights. The most important of these rights are life, liberty and property.
The corollary to American exceptionalism is the American dream, the conception that everyone deserves an opportunity for success in life regardless of their social class, religion or ethnicity. In other words, the pursuit of happiness. We take political equality and self-government for granted, yet these were revolutionary ideas in an age where people argued for the divine right of kings to rule. These precious freedoms are still beyond the grasp of a majority of the world’s population.
The United States is a meritocracy. Equality before the law is not a guarantee of equality in wealth or status. Opportunity is not outcome. Indeed, equality is incompatible with liberty. A free people will naturally sort themselves out according to their individual aptitudes and inclinations. Unfortunately, every society from the beginning of time has been cursed with a minority of malcontents who will never be happy with mere opportunity. To them, government is not a means of protecting and preserving liberty, but a way of enabling predation. We must not let these people destroy our country.
The way to reclaim America is through patient diligence. First, have children. Demography is destiny. Second, don’t abandon your children to the public schools. Take the responsibility for educating them. Third, teach children why the United States is both unique and exceptional. With his new series of children’s books, Rush Limbaugh is showing the way.
David Deming is professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma and the author of “Black & White: Politically Incorrect Essays on Politics, Culture, Science, Religion, Energy and Environment” (CreateSpace, 2011).