Sarah Palin said this about Paul Revere:
“He who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and by making sure that 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 and we were going to be armed.”
Revere, of course, is known for his “midnight ride” to Lexington to warn American patriots that British troops were coming. Revere’s story is considered basic American history and widely taught in American elementary schools.
Palin’s account, of course, stands in stark contrast to that story.
The former governor, however, refused to acknowledge her mistake. She said Paul Revere did indeed warn the British; he did it in the other part of his ride than people don’t talk about. That’s what she was referring to.
Her explanation, however, just isn’t believable.
First, there is no indication that part of Revere’s mission was to warn the British. Even if he were detained by British forces and then told them about America’s preparedness, it was never Revere’s initial intention. In fact, Revere was actively trying to avoid the British.
Second, Palin was clearly shooting for the basic “elementary school” story of Paul Revere, not some obscure fact about him.
She began her gaffe with saying “we saw where Paul Revere hung out as a teenager, which was something new to learn.” So, the subject was about Paul Revere, not about American defiance or the advantages of an armed citizenry.
She then said “he who warned the British.” The phrase “he who” – used after the introduction of a historic figure as the subject matter – is always followed by whatever that person is most well-known for.
For example, for King David, it’s “he who slew Goliath,” not something like “he who slew Uriah.” For Paul Revere, it’s “he who warned the Americans,” “he who rode to Lexington,” “he who warned of the British,” “he who warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock,” or any number of similar phrases. What it’s not is “he who warned the British.”
Palin messed up on basic “elementary school” American history.
If an American first grader gave his teacher Palin’s answer, he would have been corrected. If he tried to argue that he was referring to the other part of Revere’s ride, he would have been scolded. If an American college student tried to pull that stunt, he would have been mocked.
Palin, however, seems to have no shame in doing so.