Is Paul Revere really a ‘gotcha question?’ Sarah Palin thinks so, and so do her fans. Apparently, they rushed to her defense quickly by trying to validate her historical accuracy misstep, and thereby making her seem more accurate, through a concert of editing George Orwell’s Winston Smith would have been proud of.
Palin’s history says that Revere himself was “riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells.” Never mind that it would have been physically impossible for a man on horseback in the mid-18th century to ring a bell with one hand while continually loading and firing his musket with the other. Even Rooster Cogburn (from True Grit) would have had a tough time pulling that feat. Even if he did, it’s kind of difficult to yell, “The British are coming,” with reins clenched between your teeth.
According to Charles Johnson, on his Little Green Footballs blog, Sarah Palin’s supporters have been “trying like crazy to edit the Wikipedia page for ‘Paul Revere’ to make it match Palin’s botched version of history,” over the last few days.
The editors at Wikipedia quickly fixed the revisions, but not after some really obtuse discussion. The justification they claim for her “gettin’ it right,” as she told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Sunday, is that Paul Revere was captured by the British at the end of his ride. There are accounts that he told them, with perhaps some bravado, that “There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”
But, as someone who calls himself “Amadscientist” says in the the wiki discussion, “I am willing to bet everything I own that Sarah Palin was not talking about this.”
Even the rather conservative Christian Science Monitor cannot make the truth stretch to fit Palin’s version comfortably. In an article examining her statements, they write:
“Look, from the point of view of strategic communications, Revere’s ride did indeed warn the British that fighting in the colonies was going to be tougher than they’d thought. That’s a sort of meta way of looking at it, we suppose, but that’s what they teach in the colleges these days. If we were here that’s the defense we’d use – it has the virtue of being both logical and vague enough to avoid further discussion.”
As for her twisted way of trying to tie in Revere’s brave and patriotic ride to the right to a “well regulated militia,” the CSM reminds her that by claiming, as she did on Fox News, that Revere told the British “‘you won’t be taking our arms’ is technically non-factual. The Second Amendment was not yet in existence,” adding, a bit snarkily, “that was passed under the administration of President Charlton Heston.”