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I was thrilled to watch friends Jay Lassiter and Jeff Gardner on Reporters Roundtable but dismayed to yet again see a conservative blogger lying about our American History and trying to appropriate the trappings of one of our most progressive forefathers. Especially one I think about nearly every time I sit down to my keyboard to spout off about the way things are.
Thomas Paine. As a NJ citizen who has been associated with the Fort Lee Historic Park since I was sixteen years old and helped build the stone oven there as part of the Youth Conservation Corps in 1981, and as an employee of the park off and on over the many years since, I intimately know the Revolutionary history of Bergen County, and Fort Lee in particular in detail, as well as many of the Re-enactors who stage demonstrations there and the historians who have written books on Revolutionary history of Bergen County. Imagine my surprise at Murray Sabrin bragging on living “near the Thomas Paine statue”. Because there ISN’T one yet.
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I know this first hand because I have spent a few Saturdays and evenings singing at events set up by the Liberal DEMOCRATS of Fort Lee who have been raising the $130,000 to GET a statue of Thomas Paine in Fort Lee. The statue is STILL BEING MADE. So for Murray Sabrin to say he lives near something that doesn’t exist is just par for the course for Republicans trying to re-write history and wrap themselves in the trappings of Revolutionary War history and hope nobody notices they made stuff up.
By modern standards, Thomas Paine would have been labeled a progressive. His pamphlets on “wealth redistribution” and organized religion respectively called Agrarian Justice and Age of Reason would today elicit howls of derision from conservatives like Sabrin and Sarah Palin. They don’t know their Revolutionary history, and make things up to suit their Patriotic red white and blue image of themselves, but they are re-writing history and making fools of themselves in the process.
Sabrin making up the fact that because he lives near a statue (that doesn’t exist yet) of a guy he wants to be compared to (who has ideas antithetical to his) makes me not want to even read his nonsense. Jay, you were too nice to this guy.
But isn’t that what the Tea Party folks are all about – rewriting a history they never read? Fancying themselves new Thomas Paines and throwing around his name and the words “Common Sense” in vain while espousing ideas the real Thomas Paine would find abhorrent.
I wasn’t surprised that Sabrin would do such a thing, conservative bloggers make up an awful lot without researching. What surprised me was how much it irritated me this time. DEMOCRATS have initiated trying to get this statue in Fort Lee. And they have been raising the $$ for a few years now in a difficult economy. There are only a few statues of Thomas Paine in the country, due to the fact that he was excoriated and ridiculed later for espousing the ideas of social justice.
For a Republican conservative to now claim Thomas Paine for his cause, hoping that no one would check his facts (that there even is a statue in Fort Lee) was beyond the pale. Especially when it is a group of liberal Democrats who are friends of mine who have been struggling to get Thomas Paine the recognition he really deserves in Fort Lee, for this conservative blogger to imply that because he LIVES near it, he deserves the same fame is appalling and sad. He obviously knows a lot less about the statue than he would have you believe, and probably even less about Thomas Paine himself.
For more on how you can get the real statue done and installed at the park near the Fort Lee Museum click HERE. There will still be more fundraisers since they are still shy of the amount needed to finish the statue.
This article in the Record states the statue will be unveiled in 2012 (that’s called the future folks).
For anyone who wants to know the real story of Thomas Paine, here is a real biography for folks who actually read books.
Oh, and for the record, Paine was a recent immigrant too – arriving in the US in 1774, just 2 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.