I am totally fascinated by the controversy over Sarah Palin’s comment about the ride of Paul Revere.
First off, I have no need to defend Sarah Palin. She’s a big girl now. She’s riding around the country in her bus, looking for and getting attention, so she asked for moments like this.
At the suggestion of a friend whom I respect very much, I watched the clip again. This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8koxCWVwTlg. Palin’s statement does lack some pronouns.
Some have criticized her for not even answering the question by giving her take on the ride of Revere. She was asked about her take-away from "this trip." She pretty obviously interpreted “this trip” to be the trip to Revere's house (where she was at the time) and not the trip to Boston or the trip around the country. She did not only talk about the ride, be started the answer talking about seeing where Revere “hung out as a teenager.” No biggie there.
As for the ride description and motivation, yes, it is a muddled sentence. Here is what she said: “And you know, he who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure, as he is 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.”
Just how far would that sentence have to be edited for it to be accurate and coherent? Let’s see:
“And you know, he [who] warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms[,]. [b]By having colonists ring[ing] those bells and making sure everyone knew about the British [by ], as he [is riding] rode his horse through town, and to send those warning shots and ring the bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”
I had to take out two words, change the tense of two words/phrases and a punctuation mark, and add 12 words. I don’t think I’ve changed the gist of what she was saying though I’ll grant that some will think I have. I don’t have a problem with that. Is the statement poor? Yep. Is it wrong. I wouldn’t go that far.
He didn't ring bells or fire shots. He was out to tell others to ring bells and fire shots. I didn't know that before this controversy hit and I’m pretty well educated in history. I don’t thing most of the critics knew that either. And he did warn the British. It was a bluff once he had been captured. In contrast, the reporter in the clip above ends his piece by telling his audience that there were no bells and that lanterns were used to warn the colonists about the British. It was the opposite of Palin’s comment; a good sentence and completely wrong. There were in fact bells being rung that night to warn the colonists about the emergency. Today, we use Twitter and Facebook for that. The lanterns didn’t warn the colonists as the reporter said. They sent info to Revere and his fellow rider so that they could warn the colonists. Revere and William Dawes went out to do the warning. Smug reporter.
There were a lot of facts in what Palin was trying to say that most people didn’t know. So why has the controversy gone on so long. There are plenty of fact-check reports and articles out there that spin the history one way or the other but most have the facts as I’ve written them here. There should probably be more controversy over teaching our children Longfellow’s poem about the ride and the appalling lies therein. (Longfellow’s Grandfather found Revere to be a coward)
My theory is that once folks publically jumped on Palin for what they thought were gross inaccuracies, whether they were broadcasting, writing on the internet or just around the water cooler at work, they became invested in making this a “stupid Palin moment.” To admit that it wasn’t as bad as they first thought would damage their pride and potentially give Palin a break. For liberal Democrat, this last bit would be worse than Reagan returning from the dead.
Finally, I know what is coming in the comments, so before I’m written off as another right-wing nut (evidence for that can be found elsewhere) or a Palin lover, I want to point out that I’ve publicly defended Joe Biden along these same lines here.
It’s not worth much as theories go, but it entertains me. So there.