Among the things for which I can be thankful this season is the release of a book about George Washington by none other than Glenn Beck. Whenever Beck dons his history teacher’s hat it makes for great blogging fodder, and the comments his fans leave are invariably entertaining.
It is thus with a girlish squeal of delight that I share the following ad copy:
Through these stories you’ll not only learn our real history (and how it applies to today), you’ll also see how the media and others have distorted our view of it. It’s ironic that the best-known fact about George Washington—that he chopped down a cherry tree—is a complete lie. It’s even more ironic when you consider that a lie was thought necessary to prove he could not tell one.
For all of his heroism and triumphs, Washington’s single greatest accomplishment was the man he created in the process: courageous and principled, fair and just, respectful to all. But he was also something else: flawed.
For Beck to carp about how “the media and others have distorted our view” of history is an exhibition of either striking disingenuousness or breathtaking chutzpah, since few media personalities can match his track record of erroneous historical statements. This is the same man who insisted that pre-Columbian Indians wrote in Hebrew and built Egyptian-style pyramids, and that the Dead Sea Scrolls had something to do with Constantine.
Note the breathless overselling of common knowledge. Brace yourself, because you’re about to get the Real George Washington At Last—and apparently he was a fallible but genuinely great human being who didn’t cut down a cherry tree. Bet you haven’t heard that one before.
This is standard operating procedure for history written by celebrity pundits and politicians. Rehash general information from secondary sources, add a moral spin, simmer for two minutes, serve.