In the aftermath of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin’s gaffe in Boston last week claiming that Paul Revere was on his ride to “warn the British” comes a flurry of edits to Wikipedia’s page Revision history of Paul Revere by presumably Palin supporters who want to edit history to conform more closely to her remarks.
Is this revisionism? Or damage control? Or just plain devotion to the perhaps-yet-to-be-decided-and-declared candidate herself?
What’s just sad is that such efforts to make subtle adjustments to history are hardly transparent. Just look at the date stamps. These all stem from after Mrs. Palin’s remarks. It raises legitimate questions as to motive as well as ethics.
I anticipate that any one who addresses these edits may be labeled as anti-Palin but that’s hardly the point. Crying out allegations and name calling like that smack of McCarthyism and the most treacherous kinds of intimidation. The simple truth here is that after her remarks a great number of edits were attempted. The timing seems more curious than coincidental.
This was a significant if perhaps not coordinated effort to change history but what of smaller edits, less attention grabbing headlines? When a vast majority of students rely more and more on single sources, including specifically Wikipedia, we all need to pay a great deal of care and attention placed on any one or any movement who seeks to make wholesale changes to content. I know that there is such an effort made by Wikipedia. Clearly history was shanghaied and that’s plain wrong.
2 thoughts on “Social media offers Palin’s supporters the chance to revise history to suit her remarks”
Sadly it has always been common practice. Look at the early biographies of George Washington. Or the story of Betsy Ross. Washington’s biography contains some bold face lies (Cherry Tree) while Ross had nothing to do with the design of the American flag.
And don’t get me started on the Pilgrims.
American history is made up of a lot of falsehoods and outright lies. Sadly, by allowing anyone to edit articles, Wikipedia is doing a significant disservice to people all over the world. Students need a place on the web they can go to and find accurate information. They turn to Wikipedia thinking it will be just that place.
But history is full of these types of situations. Yellow Journalism a century ago got us into the Spanish-American War by falsely claiming the Spanish bombed the USS Maine. And let’s not forget the media jumping on the story of Weapon’s of Mass Destruction in Iraq. And people still trust Cheney and Bush even though they bold face lied to everyone.
The media is absolutely at fault for much of the political discourse happening right now. They choose of focus on wack-a-doos like Palin and ignore people that are working hard and getting a lot done. In California we never hear about the work that Boxer and Feinstein are doing. They are two of the most active and successful Senators and yet their work is ignored.
What is most interesting to me is that Americans no longer care if their elected officials or the people they hold up as their political gods know anything about American history. This would be OK if folks like Palin weren’t saying we need to go back to the days of the founding fathers. If you are going to make that your political gospel then you need to know the actual facts of America’s history. If she and others in the Tea Party said, “We intend to create a new country, with a new Constitution and we don’t care about the past,” then I wouldn’t care if she knew anything about America’s history, But that is not her battle cry.