Recently, Sarah Palin has been on a bus tour, to...well, no one is exactly sure what she's doing, but she has a bus and a film crew, and hey, who wouldn't stop at some American historical sites if they had that? Here's a video of what she was doing in Boston
I'm sure most of my loyal readers have seen this video...basically Mrs. Palin tells how Paul Revere "warned the British" by "ringing bells" because they were coming to "take our arms." In her defence, the British WERE coming to steal weapons and powder at Concorde, but Revere was warning the American rebels. My beef is not with Sarah Palin's idiocy. My beef is with her appropriating American history in the cause of...whatever it is she's up to. (Running for president? Running for a seat in the Senate? Trying to get her job back at Fox? Keeping her name in the news?) As a patriotic American, I sorta resent Sarah Palin for co-opting 'merican history, and trying to use it in the name of Freedom, Values and the American Way.
Notice how in the previous paragraph I referred to the American patriots as American rebels. That's because, in 1775, they were rebels. They were freakin' terrorists. But gradually, as history has been written by the winners, they were transformed into Patriots, who, apparently, are direct descendants to the...Tea Party. I am much more comfortable with the murkier idea of rebels turning themselves into the Establishment...my brain is comfortable with the idea of governments permuting over time...it gives me hope that it can change again in future. The Founding of America was not a foregone conclusion. The Founding Fathers were men, same as us, who disagreed, a lot. And the country they spawned contains Tea Partiers and protestors, patriots and patriots.
Further proof of this co-opting and whitewashing of early American history can be found in a recent (ish) story about a woman dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. In 2008 a group of friends gathered at the Jefferson Monument to celebrate his 265 birthday by dancing, wearing headphones and listening to iPods. Sort of like a flash mob. But one of the women was arrested, and after she sued, the DC court ruled that dancing at monuments was illegal. National monuments are a place for contemplation and reflection...not dancing. Naturally, some people felt this was an infringement of their rights ("our monuments, our respect?"), so they protested, and more people were arrested. Article and video here. The idea of dancing at a monument (especially a monument to an anti-big government, freedom lovin' founding father!) has not lost momentum: most recently a group of people danced again in May 2011. This time, police showed up but arrested no one. (I especially like the part of this article where the former Marine pulls out the Constitution and says "I got yer permission right here!")
No one is suggesting we Macarena at the Vietnam Wall, or Charleston at the USS Arizona. But a little perspective on how we honor our history would be appreciated. Some people view our Founding Fathers as saints...me, personally? I get a little tickled when I think about how TJ had time to write the Declaration of Independence, be ambassador to France, get elected President and then start the University of VA...all while being a bad-ass violin player. Huzzay!