Paul Revere and Sarah Palin: Sending a Message Versus "Sending a Message"

By now, you might have heard that politicovangelist possible presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been burbling inanities about Paul Revere, including this doozy:

He [Revere] who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells, and making sure as he's 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.

She then doubled down on her idiocy. Amanda Marcotte puts this into context:

But I think it helps to understand that, for right-wing populists, this thing we call "history" is less about real people who did real things in the real world, and more like just the Bible Part II. It's a myth that can be manipulated to suit their purpose, which is usually to establish themselves as the only Real Americans. When Palin says she got it right, I believe she believes that, because her story wasn't really about Paul Revere. Her story was a thinly veiled allegory of the Tea Party worldview, and in it, Tea Partiers are Paul Revere and the British stand in for Obama, the foreign usurper who is out to take their guns.

I think the other thing that's going on here is the politics of machismo--often referred to as 'sending a message.'

Now, of course, Revere was sending a message: he was trying to mobilize the militia to prevent the regulars from seizing their artillery. But that's different than 'sending a message', which seems to constitute the primary impetus behind most of our foreign policy and much of our domestic policy. It's about "standin' up" (real Americans wouldn't dare pronounce the g in standing). This seems to be one of the primary goals of modern conservatism.

It's also stupid and counterproductive, but that's the Tea Party for you.


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"Now, of course, Revere was sending a message: he was trying to mobilize the militia to prevent the regulars from seizing their artillery"

Only indirectly--that was Gage's mission, but Revere thought he was going to arrest Adams and Hancock. It was only after Revere and Dawes got to Lexington that they realized that the redcoats were headed to Concord. But it wasn't unexpected--Gage had seized the powder stores in what is now Somerville and the colonists were nervous about that sort of thing happening again.

However, that doesn't excuse Ms. Palin making a hash of the story for contemporary political purposes.