Let’s say hundreds surround you while cameras snap and fans grovel and journalists bark. You might commit a gaffe. You might say “British” when you meant “American.” We’d all understand. Joe Biden put televisions in our Roosevelt-era homes and Jimmy Carter said “Huber Horatio Hornblower” and President Obama called a senator a “jackass.” It was an “oops” moment. Shrewd leaders immediately correct themselves and throw in self-deprecating humor: “I meant to say ‘American,’ but I was distracted because I can see Russia from my house.”
Take that, Tina Fey!
But, sadly, Sarah Palin displayed her lack of the leadership skill God most cherishes: Wisdom (see 1 Kings 3:10-15). She rushed to defensiveness and, as is her habit, blamed her questioners and portrayed them as assailants, leaving others to argue that Revere warned the British of American capabilities once he was captured. It was a futile rescue attempt. Palin said he meant to warn the British at the outset.
So Palin was wrong and showed her usual inability to take advantage of an awkward moment. Story done.
Not quite. Something sinister prowls beneath the surface and infects us all: At least a few of Palin’s supporters tried to re-write the Wikipedia entry on Revere’s ride. That’s inexcusable – especially since many say they’re Christians and claim a true reading of the Constitution. Advocating a vision of a “true America” based on a re-written history is fundamentally dishonest and dangerous. Remember Communism’s historical revisionism.
Behold America’s current plight: If the facts don’t fit the argument, change the facts. The “enlightened” are not immune. School textbooks barely mention the Pilgrims’ religion and gloss over the 18th and 19th century revivals. Fact: Religion lay at the Pilgrim core. Fact: The 18th century revival, known as the Great Awakening, played a vital role in forming the American psyche and in molding the political theory behind the Revolution. Fact: the 19th century revival, known as the Second Great Awakening, spurred abolitionism and many reform movements, including women’s suffrage. Those historic facts may not fit the myth of an America swept clean of religious influence, but false myths should fall, especially among those with advanced degrees.
So egg is splattered over all our faces as we subtly and blatantly re-write history. Sarah Palin, the easy target par excellence, is more of a microcosm than we’d care to admit. Wisdom has been slowly drained from our society, leaving us only with assertiveness, toughness, and charisma. We need wise politicians. We don’t get them because we no longer want to hear the facts.
James McGrath writes more thoughtful comments here. Follow his links.
And here’s a video of Palin’s defensive explanation. Don’t view it to laugh at her. View it as a mirror: