Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sarah Palin, Paul Revere, History, and the Mass Media

I wasn’t going to write this post today. Then yesterday, our local newspaper printed a political cartoon that had the following dialogue recorded (Peoria Journal Star, June 8, 2011, page 4). I’ve edited some of the dialogue and can’t given “credit” to the author because I can’t read the credit information. It’s smeared. The dialogue:

Box 1: “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere as told by Sarah Palin” (Said by the author—my addition.)

Box 2: “So, Tom Revere gets on a unicorn and rides it over a rainbow and into a river filled with candy fish.” (Said by Sarah Palin—my addition.)

Box 3: “He then warns the Viet Cong that if they bomb Pearl Harbor, ‘LeBron James will join the Miami Heat!’” (Said by Sarah Palin—my addition.)

Box 4: “He tells them not to steal our guns, hamsters and big screen TVs. Then tweets from his phone, ‘Remember the Alamo!’” (Said by Sarah Palin—my addition.)

Box 5: “His unicorn passes out from heatstroke (Caused by global warming?—my addition) so Revere hails a Yellow Cab.” (Said by Sarah Palin—my addition.)

Box 6: “The press are coming!!! The press are coming!!!” (Said by two people labeled “Palin supporters.” For, of course, no one who supports Palin is literate enough to speak a grammatically correct four word sentence!!!—my addition)

Box 7: “You kids wanna hear more history?” (Said by Sarah Palin—my addition.) “No thanks. We’ll stick to our history books.” (Said by a child—my addition.) “Something you should consider.” (Said by a second child—my addition.)

Clever isn’t it? But wait!


“Experts back Sarah Palin’s historical account
You betcha she was right!
By Chris Cassidy
Monday, June 6, 2011—Updated 2 days ago

Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere ‘warned the British’ during his famed 1775 ride—remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed—is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up.

Palin prompted howls of partisan derision when she said on Boston’s Freedom Trail that Revere ‘warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.’

Palin insisted yesterday on Fox News Sunday she was right: ‘Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.’

In fact, Revere’s own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin’s claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them ‘there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.’

Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, ‘Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting,’ and the British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing—she was right about that—and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”

Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House said Revere was probably bluffing his British captors (Of course! Since Mr. Leehey was not there at the time and since he is now trying to interpret events 200 years plus later, could he be trying to put his own spin on events? It’s something that some “historians” try to do!—my addition), but reluctantly conceded that it could be construed as Revere warning the British.

‘I suppose you could say that,’ Leehey said. ‘But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.’ (What! He can read Paul Revere’s mind but not Mrs. Palin’s?—my addition)

McConville said he also is not convinced that Palin’s remarks reflect scholarship. ‘I would call her lucky in her comments,’ McConville said. (Of course, he would!—my addition)

Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party held a thin blue line on the issue, insisting on mocking Palin despite a brief historical review of the matter. State party chairman John Walsh wise-cracked that the region welcomes all tourists, even those with ‘an alternative view of history.’ (Even if the alternative view is historically accurate!—my addition)

‘If you believe he was riding through the countryside sending text messages and Tweets (Now, where did Mrs. Palin say anything about tweets?—my addition) to the British, still come to Boston,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of things to do and see.’

But Cornell law professor William Jacobson, who asserted last week that Palin was correct, linking to Revere quotes on his conservative blog, said Palin’s critics are the ones in need of a history lesson. ‘It seems to be a historical fact that this happened,’ he said. ‘A lot of the criticism is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history.’”

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I’ve got a feeling that Sarah Palin may have sent up the mass media. When I was in school, we had to memorize Longfellow’s poem about Paul Revere as an example of patriotic poetry. We were told, however, that the poem was NOT historically accurate and that Paul Revere was captured by the British.

I’ve taught a few history classes in my day. In the scheme of American history, Paul Revere was a minor character who would have probably been long forgotten if not for the Longfellow poem. I doubt if most history teachers even mention him unless it is in reference to the poem. I think Sarah Palin set up a “Gotcha!’ moment. If not done intentionally, the result is the same.

The mass media and some Democrats are the ones who look and sound silly! The mass media and some Democrats are the ones who don‘t know their history! Maybe they believe the Longfellow poem?

That said. I’m still not going to support Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination.


1) I’m supporting no one who ran in 2008 for President or Vice President.

2) She made a commitment to serve as Alaska’s governor for four years and then resigned after the 2008 loss. I personally don’t believe any office holder should resign from office early except under extraordinary circumstances. But if she was going to resign, she should have resigned after she received the nomination and before the election campaign. Arizona has a law that any State office holder (Does not apply to federal offices.) who is running for another office before the last year of his term must resign before running for that other office. I like that law!

3) She was not effective enough in helping Joe Miller win the Senate election in Alaska.

4) She supported John McCain in his 2010 Senatorial reelection against a Tea Party candidate. False loyalty on her part and I think done, at least in part, to reap the benefits of John McCain’s gratitude.

5) She has no experience dealing with Congress and especially the Senate which will be important in getting strict constructionist federal court members appointed to the courts.

6) Alaska has only three electoral college votes. It is basically a given that President Obama will carry California, New York, and Illinois. We need a candidate who, if possible, is from a large electoral college State, will carry that State, and start the accumulation of electoral college votes on a positive note.

It’s time, it is past time to TAKE BACK THE NATION!!! It’s time, it is past time to TAKE BACK THE NATION!!! It’s time, it is past time to TAKE BACK THE NATION!!!