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Sarah Palin came to Boston June 3, 2011 with her traveling circus of friends, children, grandchildren, and hangers on… On vacation, she wanted to show herself off to Boston while instructing her claque in the finer points of American revolution history, so much of which took place right here.
Frankly, we were glad to see her since our tourist business was hard hit by the recent recession and is only just recovering, glad that is…
… until she started lecturing us locals on what we know best: our own history, whose facts she so scrambled that she managed to turn Paul Revere from our celebrated hero into a stooge for the British, a spy treacherously working for the very people we were fighting against, our 18th century owners and oppressors.
Here’s what she said after a visit to Old North Church when she was asked about Paul Revere’s historic ride, April 18, 1775. With the ringing certitude she’s made all her own Professor Palin commenced her mangling. Revere, she said, “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.”
Except for the part where Palin says Revere got on his horse and rode… Professor Palin is wrong on every single point.
Revere was not on a mission to warn the British. (Where does the lady get these ideas anyway?).
He rode to warn the colonists to get up and defend themselves for the “British were coming”, by sea.
He didn’t work alone but as part of a team of brave people who each, once briefed, had to get up and get out fast, to warn the colonists along their appointed route so that they could defend themselves and the arms they had dangerously, laboriously assembled.
If Paul Revere had done what Palin said he did (“warn the British”) he would have been snuffed out by the locals as a dangerous snitch, a traitor, not raised to the pinnacle of national respect and admiration.
This entire imbroglio, this tempest in a tea cup, should never had taken place. Palin could have chosen to do what I did when I took my nephew Kyle out to the same historic sites.
First, get a guidebook and read it.
Second, visit the superb visitor centers along the way. They are packed with pertinent detail and good (air-conditioned) films, a real pleasure to see and get out of the humidity, too.
Three, pepper the well prepared park service employees and local volunteers in period costumes with all your questions. They’ve heard it all and, in my experience (for I’ve taken friends and family members thither many times) are well qualified, well versed, and always warm and welcoming in the New England fashion.
Sarah, of course, chose none of these sensible alternatives.
Sarah likes “going rogue” about this, as everything else. It means she does things, everything, her own way… and those who don’t like it can lump it. She so liked the idea and the phrase that she titled her autobiography “Going Rogue: An American Life”. (Simon and Schuster 2009). In Palin’s “Alice in Wonderland” world whatever she says, no matter how wrong, is right and anyone criticizing her, however right, is always wrong.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, her Fox colleague, was the latest victim of Palin-think. Sunday June 5, he discovered why even suggesting that Palin could be mistaken ever about anything is like fighting with a skunk. And we all know what that means…
The daring but hapless Wallace suggested that Palin had erred in her Boston lecture on Revere. But Palin wasn’t about to suffer that. What? Sarah! Make! A! Mistake! Not just impossible… but inconceivable. And what’s more, that was just another instance of “gotcha” journalism, bad people out to get her. (In Sarah’s conspiratorial world there are always such evildoers at hand for Sarah’s world is lined with paranoia.)
“You know what?” Palin spat at Wallace, “I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”
There was more, lots more, delivered with the usual ingredients of her verbal Molotov cocktails… surety, disdain, condescension and her usual “Look brother,don’t tread on me. Get off my back” nastiness, which can in an instant turn her smile into a sneer. Make no mistake about it, Sarah’s a tough customer and any suggestion that she’s not as good as the Virgin Mary directs her firepower at you, while her stiletto comes down hard on your foot, the better to make her point — maggot, don’t mess with me.
And this to Chris Wallace, a professional colleague at the Fox Network!
She went on, fire and brimstone at the ready, for Palin always comes armed with the arsenal of the street fighter:
“Here is what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that the British were coming.., and they were going to try take our arms and we got to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take it,” Palin said June 5.
“But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers for seven years in the area. And part of Paul Revere’s ride –and it wasn’t just one ride — he was a courier, he was a messenger. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there…. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have. He did warn the British.”
And that, she suggests, is that. But, most assuredly, that is not that… and not just because she misstated a few facts which are all easily available in libraries and online. Even Boston’s own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his famous poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (published 1863) erred in focusing solely on what Revere did, to the detriment of his many other colleagues who also rode hard for freedom that April evening.
No, Palin’s fault is the assumption of infallibility with which she now approaches everything, great and small. That every word she mispronounces is faultless; every sentence she twists and destroys is perfect…. and every fact she gets wrong was in fact just previously misunderstood and is now clarified by her. This is not an American citizen and possible presidential candidate. This is the first, infallible American pope… and a woman too. And if you purists in the Vatican suggest that a non-Catholic and a woman will never be pope, Sarah will tell you different, thundering with words like schism and anti-pope at the ready.
For you see, Sarah aims for bigger fish than the White House with its tiresome term limits and insistent people always to propitiate. Sarah aims for the very seat of St. Peter and a lifetime audience commanded to listen and obey…
“A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore…”
The word of our Sarah urbi et orbi “In the hour of darkness and peril and need”… Amen! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
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Hear Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with his best known patriotic poem “Paul Revere’s Ride”.