It Rings a Familiar Bell

by Jose Medina

The ideologically motivated battles over science and history that we’ve witnessed over the last few years at the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) can be exemplified by a 10-second sound bite by a certain former governor of Alaska and the resulting revisionist attacks on the Wikipedia page for this man: Paul Revere.

If ever you’re hanging out with friends from out of state and they ask you about the culture wars in Texas, point them to the Sarah Palin-Paul Revere dust up of a few days ago. Though it didn’t happen in Texas or involved anyone associated with the SBOE, it’s a perfect example of how far-right revisionists on the board have operated, how they abhor facts and how they’re willing to flippantly manipulate history for political ends.

It was earlier this month when Palin and family were rolling through parts of New England on her much-publicized bus tour of historical sites when — during a stop in Boston — someone threw this softball of a question at the tea party and media darling:

What have you seen so far today and what are you going to take away from your visit?

In true Palin fashion, what was an easy enough question to answer quickly turned into a viral video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dRqaDrhgb8&w=425&h=349]

Everyone at one point or another in his or her lifetime has flubbed a historical fact or two. But what’s so unnerving is what happened next, when what appeared to be Palin supporters tried to unblunder her blunder by editing Revere’s Wikipedia page to fit Palin’s version of history.

Wrote one would-be Wikipedia editor:

“I think the addition represents this fairly — the mainstream position is that Revere’s warnings were verbal, but there are differing accounts that the warnings were done with bells — with two sources: WDHD television plus a live interview, with a highly influential US politician relating these facts.”

Differing accounts? What differing accounts? Facts? What facts? Palin getting it wrong is not a differing account, nor was she relating facts.

Excuse the pun, but this incident rings a few bells. It sounds a lot like “TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!” and the “strengths and weaknesses,” doesn’t it? You know, the move by the far right to take down already settled evolutionary science. It also sounds a lot like the far right using Texas social studies curriculum standards to revise history for political purposes.

Really, people, have we gotten to the point where it would be so terrible to admit you made a simple mistake and move on instead of trying to hit the reset button on history?

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