Life Would Be More Simple If Our Dead Ancestors Followed The Script …

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:

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

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3 Comments on “Life Would Be More Simple If Our Dead Ancestors Followed The Script …”

  1. kbrown2225 Says:

    This is an interesting article, but I am not aware of any legitimate historian denying the role religion played in American society. The Great Awakening was instrumental in the creation of many of America’s early colleges and played an important role in colonial America, as did the religious energy of the revivalist movement in the early 20th century. America has always had a Christian majority and that has played a significant role in our societal dynamics.

    I teach college history and I would never deny the faith of the Puritans (sorry I have problems with the term pilgrims) or the faith of the colonists of the Massachusetts Bay. Their religious beliefs go to the nature of their existence (try to explain the Salem Witchcraft hysteria without it.) How can you describe the creation of the Rhode Island colony without recognizing the religious dynamic. No historian worth a damn would want to exorcise religion from the narrative.

    The problem is that the religious right wants to rewrite American history to deny the separation of Church and State as a primary tenet of our law and culture. It is not that Christianity does not affect society, rather it is the fact that our Constitution and laws do not reflect Biblical society with a Christian God at its center.


    • Charles Redfern Says:

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it. My criticism had more to do with elementary and high school text books that virtually eliminate religion from American history. Look at the role of religion critically (in the constructive sense of that word) is thoroughly appropriate — which you do here.

      Again, thank you.


      • kbrown2225 Says:

        You make a good point, unfortunately the state of history as it is often taught in elementary and seconday schools is sad. Too often it is more concerned with political correctness and not offending school boards than with educating our young people. It is a shame, because if we do not know where we have been, how do we know where we are going. Once again I enjoyed and appreciated the insights of your article.

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