American Huckstery

From AlterNet:

Mike Huckabee […] has started a project, “Learn Our History,” where on a monthly basis–sort of like BMG or Columbia House music–Huckabee’s organization will send subscribers Time Travel Academy, an animated children’s cartoon featuring a group of intrepid time travelers who teach lessons about U.S. history “without a political bias.”

If judged by its artistic qualities, the cartoon is so poorly done as to be a pitiable joke. Its main characters are a contrived group of multicultural “tweens.” The history is predictable: Ronald Reagan is America’s savior, America is a Judeo-Christian country preordained by God to be exceptional, and flag-waving jingoistic nationalism is a virtue and never a sin. The guiding principle of this right-wing approved version of U.S. history is simple: “What we see and hear isn’t always the same as what we read in books, or see on TV. We know the truth. And that’s good enough for us.”

Original DVD cover

The takeaway here is simple. The “liberals,” a cabal that ostensibly holds sway over public schools and universities, are corrupt and anti-American. In their fantasy, conservatives have access to a quasi-secret, pure and unadulterated version of history that is only available to true believers.


The Time Travel Academy is patently absurd. Huckabee’s effort at overt historical revisionism is part of a larger national trend that has been decades in the making.


First, they correctly understand that the educational system is one of society’s primary sites for political socialization. There you create citizens. The classroom is also where citizens are equipped with the critical frameworks needed to ask hard questions about the common good, their role in society, and the State’s obligation to the people.

Conservatives have made a series of bold strikes in politicizing the classroom in the service of their agenda.

1. David Horowitz, failed academic and incendiary polemicist, and his group, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (now called the David Horowitz Freedom Center), have been policing college classrooms for years. They have compiled a McCarthy-like enemies list of professors who are “dangerous Leftists” that “poison” and “pollute” the minds of young people by criticizing the pet policy positions of conservatives.


2. The Koch brothers, the astroturf puppet masters of the New Right, have been funding academic programs and research centers that parrot the extreme gospel of trickle-down economics, anti-statism, and other policy positions that are favorable to the most extreme elements of the conservative agenda.


3. Christian Nationalist pseudo-historians such as David Barton offer an uncritical view of American exceptionalism and the Constitution where the United States is portrayed as a theocracy beholden to Judeo-Christian beliefs. They have become darlings of the New Right and the Tea Party. A historian without credentials, he has become a mascot for popular conservatives and praised by Newt Gingrich as a preeminent scholar in his field. Barton has risen to fame on the backs of Glenn Beck and Fox News, who together pander his “righteous” and “correct” versions of American history to their audiences


4. The Arizona Ethnic Studies ban, along with the efforts to rewrite Texas school books to reflect a conservative view of U.S. history, are entry points for (re)educating children in a mold that fits the Right’s social and political agenda. In the age of Obama these state-level moves are designed to quite literally whitewash American history and to remove the successes of liberals and progressives from the classroom.


The second part of the Right’s efforts to remake American citizenship involves the media. Aided and abetted by Fox News and the right-wing media echo chamber, there has been a concerted effort to create an alternate reality that destroys the post-Civil War consensus and the social contract that has guided this country since World War II.


Although culture warriors such as Pat Buchanan, and carnival barker pseudo-historians such as Glenn Beck would suggest otherwise, the forces of social and political conservatism have repeatedly been shown to be on the wrong side of American history. The triumphs of the Civil Rights, women’s and labor movements were high water marks for the country. While maligned by the New Right as near profanities, the long arc of American history suggests that the forces of progressive and liberal thought have expanded rights and liberties for the country’s citizens, as well as provided a more certain future in the pursuit of the common good than those alternatives offered by the Right.

For contemporary conservatives the solution to this dilemma is a simple one. When losing simply rewrite the history. Change the narrative. Then disseminate this alternate version of reality through the right-wing media and the schools.

This is the foundation of the Big Lie. The right-wing echo chamber offers a different version of the facts.


The assault by conservatives on education is prefaced on a need to destroy those with whom they disagree.


While Huckabee and company’s agenda may seem like child’s play at first, this is a real and deadly serious business. The Right is playing a deep game where they are remaking the very notions of citizenship and reality. What will progressives and the left do in response? Will they roll over and play nice? Or will they rise to the challenge?

The Right has been playing for keeps. The Left has been letting the fight go to the scorecards. It is time to step up and go for the knockout punch.

There’s lots more in the article, and you should read the whole thing, kids.


Filed under Barack Obama, Christianity, Constitution, David Horowitz, Democrats, Fox News, Glenn Beck, humor, Media, Mike Huckabee, movies, Newt Gingrich, parody, politics, religion, Republicans, Ronald Reagan, snark, Texas, Wordpress Political Blogs

27 responses to “American Huckstery

  1. jean-philippe

    Well, Huckabee could have been a national Republican leader, but he made his choice:

  2. John Erickson

    Remember the musical South Pacific? There was a neat little song in there called “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”. It makes the great point that kids don’t naturally hate by race or religion, that they have to be taught to hate.
    “Get ’em young” was another slogan, the source of which evades me.
    The best comparison? Maybe we should refer to the “Time Travel Team” as the Huckleberry Jugend. Indoctrinate the kiddies, before they learn the truth.
    Please tell me this ain’t for real? That this is just a bad vision I’m having from too many meds?
    What’s next? “Amerika Uber Alles?” instead of the Star-Spangled Banner?

    • all kidding aside, it really frightens me. i don’t want rethugs, especially fundie rethugs, determining who is a true american. thankfully, the only ones buying this shit will be those who are already homeschooling their kids and teaching them revisionist history. not to say that all homeschoolers are haters, but the ones who are will waste their money on this tripe.

  3. jeb

    They make up their own truth in everything else, why not history. Facts are just an inconvenience that should not get in the way of regress.

  4. As John said, “Get em young.” …. this is getting sadder and sadder as the religious right continue to force their values on the entire country. I’m a Christian who feels insulted and invaded by this group.

  5. I have been beating the drum pretty hard this week over TEA PARTY PATRIOTS attemp to wash the mind of school age children. PART OF THEIR FOURTY YEAR PLAN (yep, the have one) so I assume this is the big deal for the year. The following link, with sources that are also pretty fine, is a must read, IMHO.

    And if long link don’t get you there start here:

    Of course


    I first picked up from a religiosity type news article. The latest post

    • my first thought was–oh crap! how much you wanna bet floriduhhh schools will be forced to present that bullshit, because the criminal in the governor’s mansion will do anything to appease the teabaggers?

  6. “a group of intrepid time travelers who teach lessons about U.S. history “without a political bias.”

    Not only is it a comic book, but made by a comedian!

    • with really crappy animation. i can’t see it appealing to kids or adults.

    • John Erickson

      Ooo, be careful condemning bad animation. The 1970s’ Star Trek Animated series had HORRIFIC animation, REALLY horrid. Their only saving grace was (in my opinion) some really good stories, and great voice work by Jimmy Doohan. It’s amazing what you can get people to watch.
      Then again, this thing has bad story, bad animation, and bad history. Either a trifecta, or a hat trick, depending on your sporting preferences! 😀

      • Well, yeah, but “Star Trek” is an entirely different thing. For example, it’s far more educational than revisionist history from right-wing kooks.

        And I think that one of the best things was watching those characters run. My brothers and I used to swear that Kirk was going to punch himself …

        By the way, you can watch all of the animated “Star Trek” episodes on Life is good …

        • John Erickson

          Oh, ye of little fannish persuasion. I have them on DVD AND videotape. Life it VERY good! 😀
          I also bought the videotapes of the original series as they came out. I have a copy of “The Cage” BEFORE they found the colour footage they clipped out when cut-and-pasting the Menagerie, so the episode pops between colour and B&W. Epic.
          And you ain’t lived until you’ve seen a 12th-gen camera copy of a British show like Blakes 7. That is HARDCORE fandom! 😉

          • Yeah, you win. No question about that. I do have “ST:TAS” on DVD, but not VHS. I did have that same video of “The Cage.” But when my brothers and I left our parents’ home, it became quite an issue of conflict. My older brother has it. I suppose I should do something about that …

            I love the way the Talosians’ voices change abruptly between the BW and color bits. That, and watching Spock shout, “The women!” when he realizes that they were taken to Talos IV.

            Sigh …

  7. As the colored boy said: “gimmie yo monee”. Thank god Reagan put a stop to all that! Old preacher Huck didn’t have much trouble jammin with The Nuge doing all those pussy lyrics. One clip I viewed on the start of WWII said…”and then America declared war on Japan and Germany”….well, it didn’t quite work that way. That December 8th declaration of war was against the Empire of Japan. Try to get those republicans in congress to vote against the Germans…not going to happen. What actually went down on the 10th was Bad Adolf going off on one of his famous rages and out of the blue declaring war on US. But why be specific when “teaching history”. …PS- John, I got the wrong analogy of the Trump demise. Instead of the exploding bomber in a firey death spiral, it went down more like a scene I witness in 1967 from a video crew out shooting a gas station ad that was alerted to a strange sound and panned the camera around just in time to catch a Goodyear blimp impaling itself on the top crossarm of a high tension tower and puncturing the gasbag (no pun intended)…..PPS-Nonnie, I need to sex the kittens. Would that be illegal in Florida now with the new law?

    • my jaw dropped when i saw the part where the guy of indeterminate racial background (but definitely not white) was mugging someone. they don’t even wink and nod when they display their racism anymore.

      you can get away with anything in floriduhhh these days just as long as the criminal in the governor’s mansion makes a profit from it.

  8. Once again, I find myself regretting that I supported this guy in 2008.

    This is disgusting. It’s also unpatriotic.

    If you love the US, then you have to love the good and the bad. Just like my wife loves me even though I didn’t trash downstairs and am not exactly a contestant for Mr. Universe.

    This whitewashing of history and the US role in it means that people don’t really love the US. It’s like falling in love with a centerfold model. It might look good and fulfill some fantasies, but it’s not real.

    I saw the trailer for the Reagan video, which I think is first in the series, and it really made me want to cry.

    In Christian circles, I’ve been pointing out that the Bible calls this stuff “idolatry.” Sadly, few people seem to care. I’m usually just told that I’m brainwashed because I listen to NPR.

    • back in 2008, chuckleberry’s disguise was a lot better, so you’re forgiven, wken. i don’t know if the disguise is getting more transparent, and he was really like this the entire time or if he thinks this is what he has to say in order to keep the bucks rolling in. either way, he’s a pretty despicable person.

      you’re spot on in your assessment. if you have to whitewash and gild this country and its history in order to love it, then you don’t really love it. i would add that, if you don’t recognize all the things we’ve done wrong, you can’t make this country a better place.

      • I was talking to another former Huckabee blogger about this. He and I decided that there are two main things that result in our former support and current utter disdain.

        1. We were focused on certain areas, and he didn’t discuss (and we didn’t ask … kind of like don’t ask, don’t tell) some of the questions that have since come up. Huckabee’s foreign policy, for example, was not a big issue in 2008. Being more visible now, we’re seeing more of his views and just how wacky he really is.

        2. He’s working for Fox now, and had to shift some things in order to fit in. Also, if he’s considering making a 2012 or 2016 run, he needed to bring some of his stuff in line with the party bosses and TPers.

        Of course, this means that he’s not a principled person at all. Since that was what we each liked about him before — that we thought he was really honest, whether right or wrong — it’s frustrating now.

        These videos scare me, too. I expect to see them show up in homeschooling circles as part of the curriculum.

        • i really thought chuckleberry was going to run against bill nelson for senate, but since that would be next year, i don’t think he will. he’s too money-hungry, and he hasn’t been on faux long enough to pay off his new mansion. i wonder if he’s thinking he’ll run for governor against the criminal currently in the floriduhhh’s governor’s mansion in 2014.

  9. Well, pull my goldfinger. I didn’t think Huck could look uglier. 😯

  10. I personally prefer Huckabee as Clippy, which a fan of Rachel Maddow made. It was hilarious!