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Rep. Todd Akin: Pilgrims Were Running From Socialism



Wow. I don't even know where to begin...

Steve Benen's commentary is a good start:
The problem is that Akin's wrong. The New York Times' Kate Zernike had an item on this the other day, citing the work of actual historians, rather than easily-confused right-wing politicians.

In our reality, the settlers agreed to hold their property in common, not as experiment in socialism, but as a short-term decision "in the interest of realizing a profit sooner." The Pilgrims "were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism."

In the right's version, the commonly-held property led to laziness and famine. That's wrong, too: "The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving."

The Pilgrims ultimately moved away from the system, not because of discoveries about their "unbiblical ways," but because settlers "spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming, and looked upon each other with great wariness."

In the right's version, the Pilgrims flourished after moving away from communal property, which made the first Thanksgiving possible. In reality, the first Thanksgiving was held two years before the settlers gave up on holding their property in common.

Their production improved, not because they turned from a wicked economic system, but because the Pilgrims got better at farming crops like corn that they'd never seen before.

Brian at Right Wing Watch noted that Akin's not the only one caught up in the conservative-politically-correct myth on Thanksgiving's origins -- John Stossel and Phyllis Schlafly like the bogus version, too -- so don't be too surprised if your crazy uncle brings it up tomorrow at the dinner table.
Hey, I've got a GREAT idea -- let's politicize f**king Thanksgiving!

As if we don't have enough to worry about getting into legitimate political arguments over a steaming hot plate of turkducken. Now I have to concern myself with some grossly uninformed family member shooting off at the mouth about how Pilgrims were fleeing socialism. Gah.