Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the time-traveling horse and Rush Revere
No, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow didn’t really write the above first two lines.
But Henry Wadsworth Longfellow doubtless would have loved Rush Limbaugh’s idea.
Longfellow was the fabled 19th century American poet who inspired generations of children by telling a famous story from American history in the lyric poem "Paul Revere’s Ride." The poem’s memorable lines — which my fifth grade class in Massachusetts was required to memorize — began:
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
As with Longfellow’s ability to transform American history into popular rhyme, writing Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims wasn’t just a good idea.
In fact, in the style of Longfellow, Rush Limbaugh’s idea to pen a children’s book using the character of his famous “Two if By Tea” company — Rush Revere — in telling the tale of the Pilgrims is a significant idea.
When you’re Rush Limbaugh — which is to say, America’s number one radio host, with two bestselling books long ago under his belt — why bother writing a third book? To say what? Everybody knows Rush and his view of the world.
Yet faced with the urgings of his friend, the late novelist Vince Flynn, to write another book, Rush’s real question was “why?” Wife Kathryn Limbaugh supplied the answer — and the answer was as perceptive as the book is necessary.
To illustrate the problem that Kathryn Limbaugh zeroed in on, let’s take a minute to go back to a recent column titled "The Cold War We Lost: A Whole New Generation Cluelessly Raised" by Paul Kengor that appeared in the Spectator. Kengor, well aside from being a terrific author of bestselling books (among others, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life, God and George W. Bush: A Spiritual Life, and The Communist, a book about President Obama’s childhood mentor Frank Marshall Davis), is a professor of political science at Grove City College. Which is to say, Paul Kengor teaches college kids.
Kengor begins his column by referring to an e-mail from a friend astonished at the 50-point election victory of Bill De Blasio as the new Mayor of New York. The friend had asked: “What the HELL is going on?” The question was prompted because De Blasio, famously nicknamed “Red Bill” has spent an entire career on the extreme far left, traveling to Nicaragua to support the Communist Sandinstas, honeymooning in Fidel’s Cuba and so on. In effect, the new mayor of New York, elected in a landslide to follow Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg — the latter famously a billionaire capitalist — is a man with serious pro-Communist sympathies. How in the world did this guy get elected?
Mr. Kengor replies to this question in the following fashion, taking note of his own hands-on experience teaching today’s college kids in the classroom:
The answer, coincidentally, arrived in my email box moments earlier. It came from a college student, and was the sort I receive all-too-frequently. I’ve deleted his name and college to protect him from persecution by the tolerance-preaching academic left. Here’s what he wrote:
‘I had a Communist Prof. last semester and we were talking about communism in class and he stood in the front of the room and talked about how great communism is. He even held up his little red book a few times and yelled “Long live chairman Mao.”... If it wasn't the biggest class [the college] offers, there [were] 120 kids in the class, and if not 9 in the morning I probably would have said something. I have a reputation for speaking up…. I once told my English prof. that what he was saying was full of, pardon my speech, but bulls—t…. The stories I could tell you about my time at [college deleted] … I could write a whole New York Times best seller….’
Kengor goes on to note the triumph over Communism in the 1980’s and Reagan’s leadership in winning the Cold War. But then he adds this, the bold print for emphasis supplied by Mr. Kengor:
But alas, it’s a generation later, and something crucial happened in the interim: the political left retained control of higher education and much of education generally, not to mention Hollywood, television, and media. Positioned in the right places, the left controlled the most influential forces in the country and culture. This meant that the next generation never learned the vital lessons about the Cold War, about communism, about the pitfalls of the left’s penchant for centralization, collectivization, redistribution, government fiat, moral and cultural relativism, militant secularism, and on and on. The nation’s youth was ample prey for the left’s cynical misuse of phony slogans like “diversity” and “tolerance,” which the academy preaches mightily but doesn’t dare apply where it matters most in a university: ideas. Thus, the post-1989 generation learned the bad ideas that lost, not the good ones that won; the latter were refused and repressed.
Again, I saw it coming. I watched it up-close, personal. Around the country, I would speak to college audiences—on communism, socialism, progressivism, collectivism, redistributionism—where I’d repeatedly warn: We’re not learning these lessons. This stuff isn’t being taught. This will come back to haunt us.
Kengor talks about a lecture he has given many times, frequently on college campuses other than his own, where conservative students ask for his help. He uses primary sources — from Marx to the Harvard University Press classic The Black Book of Communism, the latter a compendium of the crimes of Communist taken from the detailed, recently opened archives of the old Soviet Union. He notes that while we won the Cold War, in fact we lost it at home. Why? Kengor again:
We failed to teach the essential truths to the next generation…..
The left ensured the forgetting. It took over the necessary institutions to secure its triumph. And thus, the ugly stepsisters of communism—socialism, “progressivism,” communism and socialism cloaked as “progressivism,” centralization, collectivization, etc., etc., etc.—are now prevailing. It explains how the likes of de Blasio, Obama, Pelosi, Sebelius, Boxer, McAuliffe, get elected. It’s how Sandra Fluke becomes a “progressive” heroine rather than a public outrage. As they expand government and encroach on basic civil liberties (especially religious freedom), as they advance their postmodern nostrums and ever-expanding list of new “rights” and entitlements, their young foot soldiers have no idea that their ideas are really nothing new—rooted in the extremes of an ideology we had vanquished a generation ago.
Speaking of that vanquishing, the architect of victory, Ronald Reagan, said that freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. Every new generation has to fight anew. That’s where we are. We have to fight all over again. It’s frustrating, yes, but the battle never ends. That, too, is the truth.
Again, catch that line as Kengor notes the Reagan quote about freedom never being more than a generation from extinction: “Every new generation has to fight anew."
In his own fashion, Longfellow who also penned the Courtship of Miles Standish, used his poetry to make popular in his generation exemplars of freedom from Paul Revere to the Pilgrims. He also wrote poems on slavery, calling it:
The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes
Who better to lead that fight for today’s generations of Americans than Rush Limbaugh? Writing a book that is exactly targeted to the next generation, and doing so through the medium that is every generation’s favorite at a certain age: a children’s book.
On his radio show recently, Rush talked about why he wrote a children’s book, his thoughts exactly on track with Kengor’s teaching experience. Said Rush:
The school curriculum today, particularly American history, is a shame. What young people are being taught about their country, they're being taught to feel guilty about it, that this country was immorally founded, unjustly so, and it was founded for just a few to benefit while everybody else suffered.
It's outrageous the lies that are being taught young people about this country's founding. So this book has a mission, the beginnings of a mission to counter that. We all ask, what can we do, what more can we do. I've got this program every day, and people call here, "What can I do, Rush, besides vote?" This is my, "What more can I do." And as I've said, folks, and I don't mind saying this at all. I'm very proud of my parents, and I'm very proud of my background, and I'm proud of the way I was raised, and I'm proud of this country, and I want everybody to be.
I wish that everybody could listen to this program. I wish everybody would listen to this program and agree with it. That's not gonna happen. Young people are not gonna listen to talk radio. They're just not. They're gonna do other things. So this book is an effort to take the values that I believe in, that I think are wholesome and worthwhile -- and the truth of the founding of this country is a miraculous blessing. I want people to know it. So the book is just the truth.
And the book itself?
It’s a terrific book for kids. Imaginative, colorful — and most importantly historically accurate.
The central character that kids love — and the letters and e-mails are pouring in to Rush Limbaugh from youthful fans of Rush Revere — is the time-traveling and talking horse Liberty. A cross, if you will, between Mr. Ed from the old 1960’s TV series about a talking horse that is still in syndication and the 1999 film Thrill Seekers (also known as Time Shifters) about the adventures of futuristic time travelers.
Along with kids Tommy and Freedom, history teacher Rush Revere rides Liberty through a time-travel portal back to 1620. There to meet the Pilgrims, through the wonders of 21st technology sending the whole adventure back through the portal to his classroom where the rest of his students think they are watching a video. In the course of his trip we meet the real historical Pilgrims, with a focus on Pilgrim leaders William Bradford, Myles Standish, and Native Americans Squanto, Massasoit, and Samoset.
Rush Limbaugh has Rush Revere listening to William Bradford as Bradford reveals that the Pilgrims had tried living commune-style where “no one owns property but rather shares what everyone else has.” Bradford goes on to say to Rush Revere that this method of living:
has caused many of our people to do less instead of do more. We thought everyone working for each other would help the community flourish and prosper. But that hasn’t been the case because men who work harder and smarter are beginning to wonder why they are putting all of their profits into a common box, as you say, so that other men who choose not to work receive an equal share of the profits. …I’m beginning to wonder if the solution to our problems is for everybody to keep what they produce.
What Bradford is describing to Rush Revere is, of course, socialism…and his realization that it doesn’t work.
This is exactly the kind of thing that drives Rush Limbaugh’s leftwing critics crazy when delivered in monologue and entertainment form on his radio show. To put these sentiments into a children’s book has critics foaming.
A personal note here. As someone born and raised in Massachusetts, when Thanksgiving rolled around in pre-political correctness days, the historically accurate tale of the Pilgrims was regularly drilled into my little skull full of mush. Annually I make a point of reading William Bradford’s The History of Plymouth Plantation that was written between 1620-1621.
Just as Paul Kengor uses the original source material of The Black Book of Communism and Marx in his lectures to riveted college kids, so too is Rush Limbaugh using the original source of William Bradford — the same source my own teachers once used — in his children’s book. While he updates the English and puts it into kid-accessible language, the sentiments expressed by William Bradford to Rush Revere, Tommy and Freedom are completely accurate.
Here is an excerpt from Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, quoted here in the original English, spellings and all:
The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; - that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communite into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this comunite (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the young-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission and cloaths, then he that was weak and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice…..And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dressing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemed it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands brooke it…..God, in his wisdom saw another course fiter for them.”
Bradford writes that once the Pilgrims headed out on that “another course fiter for them”…aka capitalism, private property rights, with each reaping the reward of their own labor:
This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Gov-r or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into the field, and tooke their little-ons with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilite; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranic and oppression.
Thus William Bradford in his own words. Spelling out in detail a lesson the Left is determined not to teach America’s children. Resulting in the astonished kids Paul Kengor details as he teaches those very kids come-of-college-age.
Writes Rush Limbaugh in the author’s note to kids in his tale of Rush Revere and the adventures with Liberty and the Pilgrims:
We live in the greatest country on earth, the United States of America. But what makes it so great? Why do some call the United States a miracle? How did we become such a tremendous country in such a short period of time. After all, the United States is less than 250 years old!
I want to try to help you understand what ‘American Exceptionalism’ and greatness is all about. It does not mean that we Americans are better than anyone else. It does not mean that there is something uniquely different about us as human beings compared to other people in the world. It does not mean that we as a country have never faced problems of our own.
American Exceptionalism and greatness means that America is special because it is different from all other countries in history. It is a land built on true freedom and individual liberty and it defends both around the world. The role of the United States is to encourage individuals to be the best that they can be, and make their dreams come true. In the United States, they come true every day. There are so many stories of Americans who started with very little, yet dreamed big, worked very hard, and became extremely successful.
William Bradford couldn’t have said it better himself.
As if to illustrate the critical importance of Rush Limbaugh’s project one has only to look at the response from two very different audiences: the Left — and parents and their kids.
Over at The Daily Beast one finds this from outraged left-leaning writer Michelle Cottle — spewed out even before Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims hit the bookstore shelves. Fumes an amusingly hysterical Ms. Cottle in a piece angrily titled "Rush Limbaugh Has No Business Teaching History to Our Kids" filled with the trademark spittle of venomous leftist invective (Rush is a “degenerate rodeo clown—a toxic provocateur” yada yada yada):
Rush Limbaugh is coming for your children…..The story itself is based on a heart-warming Thanksgiving-themed tale that Rush shares with Dittoheads each holiday season, about how the pilgrims, following that first harvest feast with the Wampanoag, went on to reject communal living. Forget inviting the locals over to give thanks to God for not wiping out the entire colony in its first year; as Rush sees it,“The true story of Thanksgiving is how socialism failed.”
….it’s tough to think of a cultural development more frightening than one of conservatism’s most age-inappropriate personalities peddling his ideas specifically to young kids.
Over at CNN, you can depend on the ever reliable Carol Costello to screech in a Tweet that she is “a little sick now” at learning of the book.
Cottle and Costello have reason to be concerned. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims has soared to number one on both Amazon and the New York Times children’s list.
Over at Politics USA: Real Liberal Politics writer Jason Easley was apoplectic. Spluttered Easley of Limbaugh’s explanation of why he wrote the book:
What Limbaugh was talking about sounds a lot like indoctrination. Rush is literally trying to keep people stupid and misinformed from the cradle to the grave.
One would be painfully embarrassed for Mr. Easley so easily illustrating the reason for the book. Not having read the original writings of William Bradford, as clearly Easley has not, is nothing if not being “stupid and misinformed from the cradle to the grave."
To adapt FDR, the only thing liberals have to fear is history itself. Once the shroud of propaganda that is political correctness is removed, bringing real American history back into the sunlight, American kids can grow decidedly intelligent and well informed.
Which is exactly why liberals are so terrified of Rush Revere and his time-traveling, talking horse Liberty. Unlike the professional Left, kids and their parents are loving the story. As they have called in to the Rush Limbaugh show or written themselves. Some samples:
Dear Liberty: My name is Ashley, and I'm 10. I love your CD. You're the funniest character. I like how you put on those wooden shoes and couldn't get 'em off. I love your CD. I can't wait to fish (sic) listening to it.
Dear Rush Revere and Liberty: We've been reading Rush Revere to our three daughters, 10, seven and four. They love your book. I wish you could have been in our living room last night listening to our seven-year-old belly laughing at Liberty's antics. Our 10-year-old daughter, who's very picky about her reading material, remarked, 'He's really good. We should get some of this serious. Trust us. This is a huge compliment from our kids, Rush. We are so thrilled to have this book in our library to open our girls' eyes to what the Pilgrim voyage was really like. We've spent some great family time reading this book together, so thank you so much, Rush Revere and Liberty, for sharing history with us. Grateful parents, Matthew and Kate. Delighted children, Sabrina, Sarah, and Simone.
Dear Rush Revere and Liberty: My two girls, age seven and six, are enthralled with your storytelling. To be honest, I didn't know if they'd really enjoy this type of book, but they absolutely love it, especially you, Liberty. When you said "Bless you" to Rush Revere in chapter one, we were all laughing so hard the tears were rolling. We are thoroughly enjoying the book so far. It's something we look forward to reading at bedtime every night. Thank you.
Dear Mr. Rush Revere: I love your book. I'm 10. My dad said I have to read your book. At first I thought history was boring and reading about it would be boring, but I guess I was wrong. You did change my mind. Now I'm a big fan of history. Please write another book of history, and please tell Liberty I said his history rocks, and thank you, Kathryn.
And so on…and on.
To borrow from Paul Kengor, the reason people like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, Bill De Blasio and all manner of other Leftists get elected — the reason millions are now losing their health care and the unemployment rate stays steadily high in the Obama era to name just two results — is because too many millions of Americans began their childhoods separated at grade school from real American history. In this instance the real history of William Bradford and his band of genuinely brave Pilgrims whose story, as Rush Limbaugh has said, has been re-written by Leftist educators determined to make kids “feel guilty about” that history. To make them feel that “this country was immorally founded, unjustly so, and it was founded for just a few to benefit while everybody else suffered.”
It is worth noting that today Longfellow is scorned for his “popular rhymings” and as a “hack imitator” — in the latter case by a modern poet who leads a movement that, among other things, attacks opponents for political conservatism. Mr. Longfellow, meet Mr. Limbaugh.
Ronald Reagan, who, as Kengor noted, believed that freedom is but one generation from extinction, made his career in Hollywood bringing stories like those of heroic Notre Dame football legend George Gipp to life. Reagan understood exactly the point Rush Limbaugh is making with his book — and why the importance of making that point in children’s book form.
Freedom really is always just one generation away from extinction.
There’s no better way for children in the free society that is America to begin to understand freedom and its real-time relationship to American history — to understand the importance of American Exceptionalism — than with the storytelling help of Rush Revere.
“We have only begun to scratch the surface” said Rush Limbaugh yesterday of his new mission to educate America’s kids. If one goes to the Limbaugh web site one quickly finds kids-oriented attractions centered around Rush Revere and Liberty. From sharing artwork to a history quiz from Liberty to a contest for kids to write in 500 words why their school should win a stash of school supplies, computers and books (not only Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims but “great American classics like Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer”) Rush Limbaugh has started out on his mission to educate kids in American history.
No wonder all those liberals are angry at the idea.
Who can battle a time traveling talking horse?