I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you didn't have to spend any time arguing with your right-wing relatives about this nonsense.
Despite a comprehensive repudiation by historians of the belief that the original Pilgrims were socialists who only began to succeed and prosper once they turned to capitalism, on this Thanksgiving conservative leaders and writers continue to spread the urban legend that the settlers were almost doomed by their socialist-ways.
Some background: according to real historians, the Pilgrims held their land in common “in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.” But the settlers, who came from different part of England, “spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming, and looked upon each other with great wariness.” Because of such difficulties, the colony scrapped the land arrangements in 1623, yet the colony held the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the original “arrangement did not produce famine.”
But that hasn’t stopped the Right from propagating the myth that the failures of “socialism” forced them to embrace capitalism. In order to make the myth seem true, Fox News commentator John Stossel simply moves the date of the first Thanksgiving from 1621 to 1623.
And Rep. Todd Akin continued to embarrass the state of Missouri with some similar nonsense as well.
Today, millions of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. To mark this holiday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to explain its history. At one point, he opined, “It might be helpful to think back and say there’s more to Thanksgiving than the Pilgrims.” He explained that they were “a group of people who were willing to change the system, to think of different ideas.” Akin continued, “They came here with the idea that after trying socialism that it wasn’t going to work. They realized that it was unbiblical, that it was a form of theft, so they pitched socialism out. They learned that in the 1620s”:
AKIN: It might be helpful to think back and say, there’s more to Thanksgiving than the Pilgrims. They were a group of people who were willing to change the system, to think of different ideas. They came here and separated civil and church governments. They came here and created the model of a written constitution, the idea that the government should be the servant of the people. […] They came here with the idea that after trying socialism that it wasn’t going to work. They realized that it was unbiblical, that it was a form of theft, so they pitched socialism out. They learned that in the early 1620’s.
And as TPM noted, the teabaggers and Glenn Beck have been getting in on the act as well.
It's reasonable to assume that tea partiers, Fox News hosts and conservative bloggers look forward to today for the same reason most Americans do: the turkey (or tofurkey, depending on your preference) and the football (or cable TV marathons, depending on your preference.)
But those folks also look forward to Thanksgiving for another reason that it's equally reasonable to imagine most Americans don't: the celebration of capitalism's final victory over communist-leaning Pilgrims.
"Sadly, few Americans know the real story of the early colonists," FreedomWorks' Julie Borowski wrote yesterday. "For evidence of the failures of communism, we do not need to look to disastrous experiments in foreign lands. In fact, the Plymouth Plantation is one of the most apparent examples of the failures of collectivism." [...]
And last but not least Steve Benen did a nice write up on Akin's hackery as well -- Just in Time for Thanksgiving.