Written By: Anton Sawyer
Jesse Kelly & Rush Limbaugh: How Indoctrinating Children Has Evolved Through The Ages
When you look at all the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in a myriad of red states across America, you are looking at the greatest example of finger-pointing as a distraction. I believe the reason the Republican Party is trying to tie the LGBTQ+ community to child abuse is that in an educational sense, they are doing that very thing to their own children, and are playing a game of “hey, what’s that?” The indoctrination of the youth. From what’s being spoon-fed into the minds of our future citizens to the long-term negative impact of what can occur from such a thing is what I will be examining today. More specifically, I want to dissect two very different (yet still very powerful) methods that have been employed by the Republican party via the nation’s airwaves when it comes to our future voters. The first is from relative newcomer Jesse Kelly, and the second is from the GOAT, Rush Limbaugh. By the end, you’ll see that neither method employed is particularly great, and in many ways, their techniques and implementations fly in the face of the values that they both espouse as their core values.
In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.
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For those of you who may not listen to a lot of conservative talk radio, the name Jesse Kelly might cause a bit of confusion. Given that he wasn’t given a nationally syndicated radio program until 2020, his relative “newness” is still present and therefore he hasn’t become a staple of controversial headlines. Though he may not have the same name recognition as someone like a Sean Hannity, or a Bill O’Reilly, or an Alex Jones, I promise that the information he spreads is just as ill-informed and done with the same amount of rage-filled passion as any of those other names I mentioned. Kelly loves controversy. He loves being hated. He lives for detractors. A good example of his schtick during the program is, he absolutely refuses to use the terms “Democrat,” or “liberal” when it comes to anyone who is a member of the opposing party. Instead, he only refers to them as “communist scumbags.”
So when you listen to him, instead of hearing something like “Today in Washington, the Democratic Party is trying to push …” you get, “Today in Washington the communist scumbags are trying to push …” In fact, communism is his word du jour in almost any case of those who disagree with him, or that he simply doesn’t like. Another example is in the fact that he refers to ALL universities in the American lexicon as being “communist indoctrinators.” Take Rush Limbaugh, remove half of the charisma and wit, and add nothing new or original when it comes to making the party talking points your own, and you have Kelly. So, why is he even worth the mention in an article, let alone a piece of inspiration for today?
During a show of his in early March 2022, I was listening in and heard him hang up and excoriate one of his callers due to them using a four-letter expletive—keep in mind this was someone who was agreeing with the host. As soon as the call dropped, Kelly went off. For almost three minutes solid—an eternity in radio land—he explained how his show is a family show and he will not tolerate profanity. He made it clear that though he does have a podcast, which isn’t beholden to the FCC regulations when it comes to what’s legally allowed on the airwaves, he does not care and will release your call, even if you agree. The one thing he repeated a few times during this tirade that stuck with me was the fact that he made it known children should be listening to him. He wanted it known that he puts on the type of a program that is meant for families and family values. That if you are a parent, you can put your child down with his program and be safe in knowing that there will be no profanity and that the information provided is beneficial to all ages.
Given his overuse of the phrase communist scumbag, I was bemused. But then I thought about it, and if you’re wanting your child to be raised with some kind of warped perspective, then his show would be the best device for such a thing. And then I thought about what kinds of things that child would take away and have baked into the pie that is their personality.
Using the Jesse Kelly show as an educational tool would allow your children to be free from things like respecting anyone who disagrees with them. Let’s say you are a 10-year old who consumes this kind of information. By listening intently, you have now learned that even if you felt you studied hard for that English test you got a “C” on in the third period, the real reason the grade was lower is due to your teacher being a communist scumbag that is a part of a communist educational program that is too afraid of applauding exceptionalism because it doesn’t fit a “specific mold or ideology.” To the listeners of Kelly, this completely makes sense and therefore the teacher is responsible for the lower grade, not the student who actually took the test. It was also when Kelly made the statements that his program has educational benefits for the youth of America that I was drawn even further towards the wannabe Limbaugh comparison. Though, Limbaugh did write children’s books during his lifetime.
While he was alive, Rush Limbaugh wrote and published five books as a children’s historical educational series called “Rush Revere.” In these, Rush would travel through time to various important historical American events with his talking horse “Liberty.” Some of the titles include “Rush Revere and the First Patriots,” “Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner,” and the one that garnered the most focus for this article, “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.” It’s important to note that these books all sold millions of copies.
These tomes perfectly exemplify why I say that Kelly is a Limbaugh wannabe. Kelly may be trying to push the same kinds of false narratives, but his approach is incredibly over the top; it lacks any nuance. That is where the Limbaugh books come in.
As any good liar knows, you have to know your audience and apply the right amount of nuance to allow for the most amount of confusion to be attained. Sure, both Kelly and Limbaugh spout the same rhetoric about not trusting the government, but Kelly’s methodology is incredibly less palatable to a majority of Americans. There will be those who take from Kelly’s cues and just call whomever it is they disagree with as a communist scumbag and be done with it. But for most people, it’s a lot easier to get them to believe the government is your enemy by taking all of the correct details of the historical events of America, and then heavily shading what the intentions were. I believe “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims” book is a great example.
It's known that in 1492, Christopher Columbus began his voyage to discover the new world. This is a verifiable fact. But what about his intent for sailing in the first place? Some could say it was due to the spice trade. Some could say it was to prove that the Earth is not flat. Or, some could say that he was driven by a revelation received from God that HIS true land is somewhere out there across the ocean. To a majority of people who have never studied history intently, this is what Limbaugh does.
Limbaugh’s story consists of short snippets of these Pilgrim adventures and includes what scholars and historians have come to call popular myths that have become part of American history. For example, while on the Mayflower, Revere and two of his students witness the signing of the Mayflower Compact. During the signing, Revere makes the point that this is a key moment in American history because it is the brief outline of self-government in the New World, and "just as important to American history as the Declaration of Independence." James W. Loewen, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont, in his book, "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong," noted that while the Mayflower Compact provided a democratic basis for the Plymouth Colony, the framers of the US Constitution paid little attention to it. If Limbaugh cared about historical accuracy in his books (this one in particular), he could have also included the story of Increase Mather, a Puritan minister, who preached about a land conflict with Native Americans by saying "God ended the controversy by sending the smallpox amongst the Indians."
Another case in point is Limbaugh’s treatment of the Pilgrims’ commitment to liberty or freedom, a recurring theme throughout the book. We learn early on that the Pilgrims were “real people ready to give their lives for their freedom, no matter the cost, no matter the pain, no matter the sacrifice.” And indeed they were. But what the Pilgrims meant by “freedom” and what Limbaugh’s book conveys are two very different things. For this, we look to a section where Revere has a back-and-forth with his horse Liberty about free will, freedom, and the choices we make when he was trying to force Liberty to stay by his side. “Your freedom to choose as you please is becoming troublesome!” he scolds the horse. Liberty responds by telling Rush Revere that he sounds a lot like the tyrannical King James, who had similarly restricted the Separatists’ freedom in England. “I had a sick feeling in my stomach,” a chastened Rush Revere informs the reader. “I felt horrible for trying to force Liberty to do what I wanted.” Revere apologizes to Liberty and adds, “And just for the record, I hope you never feel forced to do anything.” This sets children up with the idea that personal freedom is penultimate. That the thought of trying to force anyone to do anything—even if it’s ultimately for that person’s benefit—is completely antithetical to who we are as a society.
There are many, many more examples I could use here, but I think you get the point.
Not only were these books and this disinformation being sought out by millions of American parents, but they were also being used by those who directly impact our children; the teachers. In 2014, a third-grade teacher called into his show to tell him that she was using his pilgrim book to teach kids about the civil war. But, more importantly, she believed that reading from the book in the classroom, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the lesson they are supposed to be learning, will get them excited about Rush Limbaugh and his books and they'll rush off to the taxpayer-funded library to devour more of them. She stated, “Rush, thanks so much for writing these books. They're incredible. I'm telling you, I think that there need to be teachers' guides that go with the books. I think teachers need to have classroom sets of these books.” Around this same time, there were local governments in conservative states like Texas which were looking at the possibility of these books becoming a part of class courses, though nothing ever materialized from it.
Let’s play “what if?”
So what if those books were taught in public schools? Or going towards the opposite end of the nuance spectrum, what if a parent did use Jesse Kelly as a primary educational source for their kid when outside of school?
Mellissa Carone is what happens.
Thankfully with the benefit of hindsight and federal depositions, we know that Mellissa Carone is the result of what happens when you are indoctrinated from childhood into having this level of fluidity when it comes to right and wrong, all of which are based on your perceptions.
For those of you who may not recall, Carone was the witness who testified before congress in 2020 when it came to election fraud. Her outright deceptions and hubris when it came to those deceptions went viral. Her contradictory testimony, wrapped up in a tortilla comprised of no self-awareness and arrogance, was so beyond the pale that her attorney at the time, Rudy Guiliani, was telling her to stop her shenanigans. When the attorney for ex-President Trump is telling you that you need to tone it down because of how many lies you’re pushing out in conjunction with it being presented in an incredibly indignant manner is too much … you know there’s a problem.
But that’s what’s to be expected. The methodology isn’t as necessarily important as the desired results. It could be Kelly teaching your kids to just disavow, attack, name call, and ignore that which you don’t like. Or it could be like Limbaugh, who is using the perceived intentions of America’s founders to shade information as to make it so only the Republican way of life is correct and was the ultimate goal as envisioned when we were born as a nation. Either way, when you start the lives of children out by making truth and reality fluid to perception, you’re going to end up with people like Carone. People who are willing to lie to the federal government, people who are willing to break the oath and covenant they make on a Bible with God before testifying, or people who are willing to storm the Nation’s Capital in an attempt to overthrow the very ideological principals they use as a red, white, and blue shield because all the real evidence is contrary to what they feel. All of these are being done by people without remorse because they KNOW they’re “right.”
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