Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin's Sloppy Scholarship

I just discovered that majority of quotations from Palin's "Christian Heritage" resolution are misquotes. The actual underlying quotations do exist. She doesn't cite them exactly as they are in the originals. When scholars want to do this, they have to use ellipses "..." and brackets [] or else they make an error [sic]. Most of Palin's quotes are copying errors.

Let's break down her resolution beginning with the first quotation by Ben Franklin:

WHEREAS, Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention stated, "It is impossible to build an empire without our Father's aid. I believe the sacred writings which say that, Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1)."


This misquotes Franklin's speech at the Constitutional Convention [as recorded by James Madison] where he was recording as saying:

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel:


Next Palin writes:


WHEREAS, George Washington enunciated, "animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and conducting ourselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, we may enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity."


This misquotes an address Washington gave to Roman Catholics by a few words, notably switching "ourselves" for "themselves." The bold is mine:

And may the members of your society [the Roman Catholics] in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.


Next Thomas Jefferson. Palin writes:

WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote, "Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"


This misquotes Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia" where he said:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."


In her defense, though, the words "Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" do appear on panel three of the Jefferson Memorial.

Next Madison, Palin writes:


WHEREAS, James Madison, father of the United States Constitution advocated "the diffusion of the light of Christianity in our nation" in his Memorial and Remonstrance.


What the Memorial and Remonstrance actually says:

12. Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind.


The George Mason quotation from the Virginia Declaration of Rights is accurate. And I haven't been able to confirm the Patrick Henry quotation in the original record.

31 comments:

Dan Atkinson said...

Oh no! Heaven forbid! Give me a break, Jon. This is just liberal fear due to the fact that Palin has stolen Obama's thunder. Who cares about a minute issue like this?

Face the facts my liberal commrades...McCain and Palin are GOING TO WIN! Mark my words.

Dan Atkinson said...

I invite you all to visit my blog (www.americancreation2.blogspot.com) to read my response to this article.

bpabbott said...

Nicely done Jon.

I'd really like to see the quotes done properly. For example, would the Franklin quote written properly be ...

"[It is impossible to build] an empire [...] without [...] [our Father's] aid. [I believe] [...] the sacred writings [which say] that, Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it [(Psalm 127:1)]."

Jon, did I get the brackets and ellipses correct? As the ordering of the paragraph's sentences and phrases changed even this representation is lacking.

Dan, the point is not who will win.

The point is that Palin is dishonest in her quotations.

For example, in the Franklin quote above, she added more material than she preserved :-(

The end result is that they are more her words than Franklin's.

Dan Atkinson said...

Oh give me a break bpabbott! Palin was not being dishonest. She got a couple words wrong here and there but the meanings are EXACTLY THE SAME. And, you cannot prove that SHE was the one that made the error.

You make it sound as though Palin is conspiring to distort what the Founders said. There are so many books out there than mistakenly change a couple of words UNINTENTIONALLY!

The efforts of this blog to categorize Palin as a liar is beyond ridiculous...it is terrible scholarship.

bpabbott said...

Dan: >>he got a couple words wrong here and there but the meanings are EXACTLY THE SAME.<<

She didn't claim to be paraphrasing. She offered quotes.

Regarding "exactly the same" ... No. She got the paraphrasing wrong as well :-(

Washington was speaking of Roman Catholics, but Palin's version implies he was speaking of *all* Christians.

Jefferson's words were part of a critique of slavery, and the part our Nation was playing in denying "these liberties" to them.

Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments is a critique of a Bill intended to favor teachers of religions. It was not written for the purpose of patronizing Christianity.

Besides, if they were "exactly the same" why change them at all?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, I don't see anything "dishonest" here. It would certainly be better that the quotes were strictly accurate, but this is well above average for this sort of thing.

There aren't any claims of religious truth, like Jesus Christ is God. A good scholarly catch, Mr. Rowe, but only the Madison quote warrants a correction on substance.

Pinky said...

My experience with governmental officials and resolutions tells me that Palin never penned the text in the first place.
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Some group did it and she signed it.
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That's what happened. And, in doing that, she improved her relationships with that group.
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The question gets to be, "Who is the group?"

Tom Van Dyke said...

Good point, Pinky. I'd say she scanned it and saw nothing that was particular contentious, and not being a regular reader of American Creation, it seemed, er, um, kosher.

I'd say whoever was in "the group" did a good job of not making extravagant claims.

bpabbott said...

Tom: >>[...] the Madison quote warrants a correction on substance<<

I'd say the Jefferson quote is nearly as bad.

In any event, considering the nature of politics in the USA, I agree this is above average :-(

Although, you'd hope with all the resources at their disposal they'd set higher standards for themselves.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't see the problem with the Jefferson quote, Ben, either in substance or that it was carelessly cribbed from the Jefferson Itself Memorial.

You can find enough whoppers on both sides in this campaign at factcheck.org that I give this issue a .001.

Pinky said...

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What difference does it make one way or the other.
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It was all done for politics anyway.
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It lets you know thatPalin is a political animal--plain and simple just like the rest of the yahoos.
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The election is about direction.
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Which way do you want to go?
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bpabbott said...

Pinky: "It lets you know thatPalin is a political animal--plain and simple just like the rest of the yahoos."

Which, I suppose, means she is qualified :-(

... maybe I'm getting a bit too cynical ;-)

Ray Soller said...

Alaska's Governor Palin is not responsible for the quotations being used. Various Governors have already proclaimed "Christian Heritage Week" for their states. It appears that Christian Heritage Ministries has been the primary organization behind this effort. This site, America's Christian Heritage Week, provides more information that outlines the movements historical progress.

Pinky said...

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There's more than enough out there to make anyone cynical.
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Thanks to Ray Soller for coming up with the link for the Christian Heritage Ministries.
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What a way to make money, huh? Start a charity and hit on all the churchified taps out there who, in desperation, seek ways to give their money to God. People leave their fortunes to those charities. And, poor people send money to the charities hoping that God will reward them in bushel fulls, pressed down and running over. It's called good stewardship in the churches that sponsor them. What racketeers! They have a license to steal and the politicians are right there with them.
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bpabbott said...

Pinky,

I'm in complete agreement with you!

Dan Atkinson said...

Ha! See, Palin is NOT at fault. Nice try to smear her name! I think that those of you that tried to proclaim her as a liar need to apologize.

As for Pinky's comment:

What a way to make money, huh? Start a charity and hit on all the churchified taps out there who, in desperation, seek ways to give their money to God. People leave their fortunes to those charities. And, poor people send money to the charities hoping that God will reward them in bushel fulls, pressed down and running over. It's called good stewardship in the churches that sponsor them. What racketeers! They have a license to steal and the politicians are right there with them.

Obviously you have no faith. God will reward the just and punish the wicked. For you to slander religion for seeking an honest heartfelt gift of someone's money shows your lack of faith. This is not racketeering, but the Lord's highest law.

Jesus is Lord, and may he ensure the future of this nation by inspiring us all to vote McCain/Palin in this election.

bpabbott said...

Dan: >>Ha! See, Palin is NOT at fault. Nice try to smear her name! I think that those of you that tried to proclaim her as a liar need to apologize.<<

Dan, your logic is totally bizarre.

It is Palin who needs to apologize ... along with all the others politicians who support such misrepresentations of our Nation's founding.

Pinky said...

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This might be off topic; but, I want to respond to Dan Atkinson's remarks.
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Atkinson wrote, "Obviously you have no faith. God will reward the just and punish the wicked. For you to slander religion for seeking an honest heartfelt gift of someone's money shows your lack of faith. This is not racketeering, but the Lord's highest law.
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I--NEVER ONCE--slandered anything other than those racketeers that masquerade to sitting ducks in the name of God. And, don't tell me that they're not out there. I see some of them on t-v quite often.
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bpabbott said...

Pinky,

Dan's words reflect on him not on you.

I think we can all see how bankrupt Dan's comment was.

Pinky said...

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Sorry, Folks, but, I just HAVE to respond to this one: Maybe you can find it in your thoughts to forgive me?
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Dan prays, "Jesus is Lord, and may he ensure the future of this nation by inspiring us all to vote McCain/Palin in this election." (My emphasis)
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I cannot believe any person with even a yeoman's interest in American history would ever make such an all encompassing statement.
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Come on, Dan, let's see your reasoning in making such a far out claim. How will the bleeding hearts of McCain and Palin ensure America's future?
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I can't help it. Every time I hear that poetic cadence that start out addressing "my friends", my mind sees a statue exposing its bleeding heart to the world--so thinly disguised and obvious.
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Brad Hart said...

Yeah, I second Abbott's comments. Do not take offense to this crap, Pinky. Dan has attacked me (and virtually every single one of us) from time to time and I doubt that we have seen the end of it. Just know that every time you are attacked by him it probably means that you are right.

As for Dan's comments regarding McCain/Palin and how they will "save" America, I agree with Pinky. Dan, can you "enlighten" us as to how this ticket will "save" America?

Dan Atkinson said...

So you want to know why I am staking so much on this election? Fine I will tell you, even though I am sure to be attacked for it.

This election is pivotal for the United States because the next president has the opportunity to appoint at least three new justices to the Supreme Court. If Obama gets in, we are sure to see a liberal court that will NEVER overturn Rowe v. Wade, will grant ridiculous rights to gays, and will leave our nation and military in ruins.

McCain and Palin, however, will ensure that conservative justices enter the court, who will overturn the genocidal Rowe v. Wade, will stand up against the evils of homosexuality, will protect our borders from illegals, and will keep our military strong.

Jonathan Rowe said...

As a Rowe, I know that it's "Roe" v. Wade.

I still don't buy that Dan is for real, but rather suspect he is a Stephen Colbert type in training.

Pinky said...

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"...I am sure to be attacked..."
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The [religus]-amoung-us like to play the martyr's role.
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bpabbott said...

Dan: "If Obama gets in, we are sure to see a liberal court that will NEVER overturn Rowe v. Wade, will grant ridiculous rights to gays, and will leave our nation and military in ruins."

Grant rights? ... the government doesn't grant rights. It protects them :-) ... or ... it violates them :-(

What "rights" are you so concerned about violating?

Pinky said...

I wondered the same thing, Abbott.
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bpabbott said...

Dan: "So you want to know why I am staking so much on this election? Fine I will tell you, even though I am sure to be attacked for it."

If you doubt the propriety of your position, you might want to spend some more time thinking about it.

If you are unable to provide a compelling argument, then it is not the fault of others. The lack is yours.

bpabbott said...

Pinky: "I wondered the same thing"

I am hopeful Dan will see fit to attempt to posit a compelling position.

I can think of nothing I'd be more grateful for and excited about than to have him (or another) convince me that my position is flawed, and/or that Dan's is enlightened.

Pinky said...

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Ah, but Dan walks in the light.
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He lives a life of enlightenment. Didn't you know?

bpabbott said...

Pinky: "Dan walks in the light. He lives a life of enlightenment."

The lights are on and waiting for him to step into them ;-)

Pinky said...

Hey, when God chooses a person before the world was even created, what does that say about the unclean who walk in darkness?
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