Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sad Defense of Sarah Palin’s Botched History

-E.D. Kain

Various Sarah Palin defenders have come out of the woodwork to defend her mangling of that most American of tales, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
The crux of their defense is an obscure letter that Revere wrote in 1789 that has been preserved by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Here’s the key bit:
I observed a Wood at a Small distance, & made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back,and orderd me to dismount;-one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from,& what my Name Was? I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if  I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and  aded, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up. He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.
Setting aside the likelihood that this is a letter Palin has actually read, the fact still remains that the story of Paul Revere that Americans know and love is one of Revere riding across the countryside alerting the colonists that the redcoats were coming.
This is one of the key stories of the American Revolution, as much legend as history at this point. Nobody references Paul Revere being waylaid by British soldiers and warning them that the Americans were coming. If you answer a question about Paul Revere you talk about his ride, you recite Longfellow. You don’t babble incoherently about warning the British unless you happen to be a half-term former governor of Alaska who simply can’t be bothered to learn a little bit of American history.
I mean, surely Palin could have hired a few tutors between the 2008 debacle and now, right? Does she really honestly think she can just scrape by without spending any time off the publicity circuit? Maybe a course at Khan Academy, or a few hours in a library?
In any case, nobody needs yes men. At least no serious candidate. Maybe her supporters should stop defending her every foible and help her with her education instead.
It sure couldn’t hurt.
P.S. Just to clarify, my broader point is that Palin neither described the famous legend of Paul Revere as told in Longfellow’s poem, or the actual historical events. She mangled the facts (and mangled the syntax much more ferociously) and now her defenders are digging up an obscure story not even relevant to the history itself and holding it up as though Palin knew exactly what she was talking about. This is ludicrous.