Sarah Palin’s fancy history walkin’ (Plus: Video of Joy vs. Mark Tapscott on MSNBC)

Maybe she should have stocked that bus with Piper's history books.

It’s bad enough that Sarah Palin touts herself as “more American than thou,” but doesn’t appear to know anything … and I mean anything … about American history. But when the conservative movement is willing to bend actual history for Sarah Palin, Houston, we’ve got a problem.

By now you know that Sarah Palin took to the airwaves last Thursday, and in between stomping her high heels all over Mitt Romney’s presidential announcement (for which she’s sowwy now, boop-boop-be-doop!) … made horse manure of basic American history once again. Here’s what Sarah from Alaska — who is running for billionaire, not president — had to say:

This is the transcript, and no, I didn’t change a thing. This is her actual syntax… brace yourself:

He who warned, uh, the, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town, to send those warning shots and bells, that uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free.”

Spoken like a future president of the United States … on Saturday Night Live.

And while the appropriate reaction to such a stream of poorly worded, ahistorical nonsense (Revere road to warn the colonists, not the British, he wasn’t ringing bells or firing shots, and his ride had nothing to do with gun rights … ) would be this one:

… or this one, the reaction of Palin and the Palinites has been something different altogether.

Palin, for her part, is doubling down, insisting she didn’t get it wrong at all! Even Chris Wallace had to laugh at that gambit.

And her devoted fanboys and girls in Conservativeland are abandoning all dignity, and deciding that it is history itself that’s wrong, not Palin (HotAir links to a Boston Herald story that relies on the august scholarship of the dude from So if Sarah says Paul Revere rang bells and fired shots to warn the British that they weren’t gonna take away our guns, damnit, that’s what happened! I encountered one of these special persons on MSNBC this morning, as Washington Examiner conservative writer Mark Tapscott attempted to explain to the foolish among is that Sarah Palin was right, but we media types are too “elitist” to admit it. Seriously.

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And consider the Los Angeles Times’ in-house embarrassment, Andrew Malcolm, who wasted precious column space attempting to say that it wasn’t Sarah Palin who’s stupid … it’s you, and all the other Americans who only know actual American history, and not the real, insidery history that Sarah Palin recounts in her mangled syntax:

Now, that so many Americans have wallowed in their smug confirmation that Palin is an idiot unqualified for anything but repeating sixth-grade history, how far, wide and fast do you think the contradictory news will spread that the former governor of Alaska was indeed correct?

That the Republican non-candidate, in fact, knew more about the actual facts of Revere’s midnight ride than all those idiots unknowingly revealing their own ignorance by laughing at her faux faux pas? How secretly embarrassing this must be, to be forced to face that you’re dumber than the reputed dummy.

As it happens, though, such phenomena are regular occurrences in American politics, reminding consumers of news to be wary when some fresh story seems to fit contemporary assumptions so absolutely perfectly.

The well-known fable is Revere’s late-night ride to warn fellow revolutionaries that….

…the British were coming. Less known, obviously, is the rest of the evening’s events in which Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution’s inevitable victory.

Palin knew this. The on-scene reporters did not and ran off like Revere to alert the world to Palin’s latest mis-speak, which wasn’t.


So I guess among the MORONS who just can’t grasp Palin’s genius is the Paul Revere House, which has the temerity to post the following, un-Palin-like history for all to see:

In 1774 and the Spring of 1775 Paul Revere was employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as an express rider to carry news, messages, and copies of resolutions as far away as New York and Philadelphia.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. After being rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown by two associates, Paul Revere borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. While in Charlestown, he verified that the local “Sons of Liberty” committee had seen his pre-arranged signals. (Two lanterns had been hung briefly in the bell-tower of Christ Church in Boston, indicating that troops would row “by sea” across the Charles River to Cambridge, rather than marching “by land” out Boston Neck. Revere had arranged for these signals the previous weekend, as he was afraid that he might be prevented from leaving Boston).

On the way to Lexington, Revere “alarmed” the country-side, stopping at each house, and arrived in Lexington about midnight. As he approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry asked that he not make so much noise. “Noise!” cried Revere, “You’ll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!” After delivering his message, Revere was joined by a second rider, William Dawes, who had been sent on the same errand by a different route. Deciding on their own to continue on to Concord, Massachusetts, where weapons and supplies were hidden, Revere and Dawes were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. Soon after, all three were arrested by a British patrol. Prescott escaped almost immediately, and Dawes soon after. Revere was held for some time and then released. Left without a horse, Revere returned to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on the Lexington Green.

Here’s some history that even Piper Palin could grasp, since it’s from Yahoo! Kids:

Revere, Paul, 1735—1818, American silversmith and political leader in the American Revolution, b. Boston. In his father’s smithy he learned to work gold and silver, and he became a leading silversmith of New England. He also turned to various other skills–designing, engraving, printing, bell founding, and dentistry. In the French and Indian War he was a soldier, and in the period of growing colonial discontent with British measures after the Stamp Act (1765), he was a fervent anti-British propagandist. He early joined the Sons of Liberty, took part in the Boston Tea Party, and was a courier (1774) for the Massachusetts committee of correspondence. Revere became a figure of popular history and legend, however, because of his ride on the night of Apr. 18, 1775, to warn the people of the Massachusetts countryside that British soldiers were being sent out in the expedition that, as it turned out, started the American Revolution (see Lexington and Concord, battles of). William Dawes and Samuel Prescott also rode forth with the news. Revere did not reach his destination at Concord but was captured by the British; nevertheless, it is Revere who is remembered as the midnight rider, chiefly because of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He designed the first seal for the united colonies, designed and printed the first Continental bond issue, and established (1776) a powder mill at Canton, Mass. His military career was not distinguished. On the ill-fated expedition against Penobscot he was arrested for disobeying orders (though a court-martial later acquitted him of the charges), and in 1780 he returned to silversmithing. His shrewdness in other enterprises, particularly the establishment of a copper-rolling and brass-casting foundry at Canton, helped to make his later years very prosperous.

See biographies by E. G. Taylor (1930) and E. Forbes (1942, repr. 1962).

So yes, Paul Revere did come into (unwanted) contact with the British. But did he shoot them with his guns (I mean, if he was firin’ shots and stuff, he must’ve had a gun, right?) Well, no. He got captured by them. Rick Ungar, your witness:

What is true is that Revere was briefly captured (along with two others who managed to quickly escape) and held by the British while on his now legendary ride. With a pistol aimed at his chest, and then his head, Revere was forced to answer the questions put to him. He answered by lying to his British captors, misleading them by overstating the number of armed colonists awaiting the arrival of the Regulars in an effort to give the enemy pause and confuse their mission.

As made clear via Revere’s own letter setting forth the story of the event (which is making the rounds of the conservative blogosphere), and through any number of historic accounts, at no time did Revere warn his captors of anything, or make any rousing speeches as to how they would not be getting their hands on the colonists’ guns as suggested by Gov. Palin.

Revere did what any good patriot would do in that circumstance – he lied to the enemy to aid and protect his compatriots. Thus, when Palin’s legion of defenders suggest that Revere warned the enemy , they are suggesting that he sold out his side.

Any American should be distressed at this effort to paint Paul Revere as less of a patriot – all in the name of defending Sarah Palin’s ridiculous remark.

To be clear, I do not believe that Governor Palin, in any way whatsoever, sought to impugn Mr. Revere’s good reputation. It is her supporters who are pushing the argument that she was accurate in her statement by suggesting that Revere warned the British by telling them about his ride and the militia troop strength. These are the people who, in their zeal to protect their leader, are making a hero of the Revolution into a traitor.

The next bit of fractured fairy tale being peddled by the Palinistas suggests that while Revere may not have been literally motivated by his desire to protect the colonists’ right to bear arms, this is what it was all really about so no big deal that Palin didn’t get it exactly right.

Wrong again.

First off, Revere’s mission took place at the behest of Dr. Joseph Warren, a Boston leader of the revolutionary cause, for the purpose of warning Samuel Adams and John Hancock – who were staying at the Hancock home – that the British soliders were likely coming to arrest them and that they would do well to get out of the house before they were taken.

Further, while it is absolutely true that the British did have their eye on the gunpowder stockpiles at Concord, Revere’s mission had absolutely zero to do with this. He was all about getting to Adams and Hancock while passing the word along the way of the coming arrival of the British Regulars. Thus, using this bit of history to find some basis in Palin’s remark that, “He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms….” is as absurd as the original statement and only serves to further highlight the same.

Just to be thorough, let’s take another, closer look at the Palinites’ claims, versus Palin’s statement. Again she said Paul Revere:

He who warned, uh, the, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town, to send those warning shots and bells, that uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free.”

And the Palinites claim that that is accurate according to Revere’s letter describing his ride and detention. Below is what Revere wrote. Look for instances where he “defiantly”, in Malcolm’s words, warns the British that Americans aren’t giving up their arms, and are going to be free, damnit! And does so by ringing bells, riding his horse, and sending warning shots and bells. Theletter is to Dr. Jeremy Belknap, and recounts Revere’s and his cohorts’ efforts to spy on the British positions, something for which he most certainly did not want to get caught:

We had got nearly half way. Mr. Daws and the doctor stopped to alarm the people of a house. I was about one hundred rods ahead when I saw two men in nearly the same situation as those officers were near Charlestown. I called for the doctor and Mr.Daws to come up. In an instant I was surrounded by four. They had placed themselves in a straight road that inclined each way; they had taken down a pair of bars on the north side of the road, and two of them were under a tree in the pasture. The doctor being foremost, he came up and we tried to get past them; but they being armed with pistols and swords, they forced us into the pasture. The doctor jumped his horse over a low stone wall and got to Concord.

I observed a wood at a small distance and made for that. When I got there, out started six officers on horseback and ordered me to dismount. One of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from and what my name was. I told him. He asked me if I was an express. I answered in the affirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston. I told him, and added 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 immediately rode towards those who stopped us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop. One of them, whom I afterwards found to be a Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then ordered me to mount my horse, after searching me for arms. He then ordered them to advance and to lead me in front. When we had got about one mile, the major rode up to the officer that was leading me, and told him to give me to the sergeant. As soon as he took me, the major ordered him, if I attempted to run, or anybody insulted them, to blow my brains out.

We rode till we got near Lexington meeting-house, when the militia fired a volley of guns, which appeared to alarm them very much. The major inquired of me how far it was to Cambridge, and if there were any other road. After some consultation, the major rode up to the sergeant and asked if his horse was tired. He answered him he was- he was a sergeant of grenadiers and had a small horse. “Then,” said he, “take that man’s horse.” I dismounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse, when they all rode towards Lexington meeting-house.

So, it appears Mr. Ungar has it right. Revere was detained, not while riding through Boston “firing off shots” and ringing warning bells, but while trying to evade capture and after seeing his compatriots nabbed. He didn’t “warn” the British (with shots OR bells) defiantly or otherwise. He answered questions, with a gun to his head. Then he got his horse stolen. As was made abundantly clear during his account of his capture, Revere wasn’t carrying a pistol). And as to his warnings, no shots, no bells, just lanterns:

I returned at night through Charlestown; there I agreed Colonel Conant and some other gentlemen that if the British went out by water, we would show two lanthorns in the north church steeple; and if by land, one, as a signal; for we were apprehensive it would be difficult to cross the Charles River or to get over Boston Neck. I left Dr. Warren, called upon a friend and desired him to make the signals.

Up next: Sarah Palin explains that the civil war was really about Abraham Lincoln tryin’ to take away the southerners’ guns…

Geek link: Here’s Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, which memorialized a guy who in the end, wasn’t even the most prolific rider in the real story (here’s to you, Israel Bissell), but who gets the historic credit, and the Palinite mauling, anyway.

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4 Responses to Sarah Palin’s fancy history walkin’ (Plus: Video of Joy vs. Mark Tapscott on MSNBC)

  1. max says:

    Good grief … You guys on the LEFT are real scared of Palin… Yes she was right … Get over it …

  2. Rupert says:

    She was right, Max? Enjoy your delusions.

  3. kochToolin says:

    The narrative on Palin is interesting. In 2008, the GOP said they loved her because she drives “the left” crazy. Now they like her because she makes the left “mad.” Palin butchers the histroy of the country conservatives claim to love so much, and when we point and laugh, they say “her beauty makes you angry!!”

    Huh? Read this:

    David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, Nov. 23:

    Imagine you’re at the circus. On the ground is a poodle performing a stunt. Above the clown’s head, dangling from a thin wire, is a piano. The piano is teetering, tottering, looking as if at any moment it might slip, crash to earth, and crush the dog. Impossible not to watch, right? And that’s the Palin show, only this time with the party of Lincoln as the little dog, and Sarah Palin as the piano.

    So is that conservative pundit mad, crazy or leftist?

  4. Pingback: Conservatives, women and the ideological division of respect : The Reid Report

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