Re-Writing History – Thomas Paine & Fort Lee

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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.

Comments (18)

  1. ken bank

    This clown professes to be a Libertarian but has as much credibility as Chris Christie promoting Weight Watchers.

    He has made a career of trashing the public sector while profiting off of it more than anyone I know.  From his earliest years in taxpayer-subsidised public schools, to his education at taxpayer-subsidised public universities, to his employment at taxpayer-subsidised Ramapo STATE University, even to his receipt of over half a million dollars to promote his “Libertarian” campaign for Governor in 1997.

    When one considers how much Sabrin The “Schnorer” has consumed from taxpayers versus how much he has given back to society he has as much credibility preaching “Every Man For Himself” Economics as the madam of a whorehouse preaching virginity.

    BTW, I consider Thomas Paine to be an anarcho-collectivist, not a libertarian, and Murray Sabrin has as much in common with Thomas Paine as Pat Boone has in common with “RuPaul”.

    Reply
  2. johnleesandiego

    yeah, I know, we’re talking teaparty here but I recently discovered the Fort Lee Historic Site and found it interesting not only for its commanding views of the George Washington Bridge, but also for the fort itself.  

    Reply
  3. ken bank

    Here’s the link to Wikipedia which describes Hal Turner as Sabrin’s campaign manager.  I actually met Hal Turner once when I visited Sabrin’s campaign headquarters.  At the time he seemed like any other political operative, and all he talked about was going negative on Whitman.  Eventually he was replaced as campaign manager, and Rick Shaftan came aboard later as a strategist.

    The Sabrin campaign was a complete disaster and a great many libertarians, myself included, began to question our own beliefs.  In fact, the downfall of the New Jersey Libertarian Party, as a viable alternative to the major parties, can be directly traced to the Sabrin campaign.  The NJLP since then has never been the same, and has become virtually irrelevant in New Jersey politics (and deservedly so, I might add).

    The real hypocrisy was Murray’s whining about the inefficiency of the public sector, meanwhile he had no scruples about taking over half a million dollars in taxpayer money to finance his campaign.  After the campaign was over and disclosures released to the public, I got to see the documents and was appalled, as were many NJLP members, at the waste and inefficiency of the Sabrin campaign.  Almost 90% of the money was spent on administrative, compliance, fundraising, consulting and professional fees.  Very little was spent on advertising.  I was at a general membership meeting after the campaign (Murray didn’t show up. of course) and it got real ugly real fast.  Nothing like a roomful of libertarians, who are supposed to preach individual responsibility and accountability, pointing fingers at one another and blaming others for their failures.

    I might mention that my total disillusionment with Sabrin in particular, and libertarians in general, came the following year when Murray wrote me a letter asking me to support the mayor of some town in Bergen County I never heard of who was then running in the GOP congressional primary, Steve Lonegan.

    Since then Murray has been bouncing back and forth between the GOP, the NJLP, and even declaring himself independent.  Whoever will have him, so long as he can raise enough money in his failed primary bids for US Senate in 2002 and 2008 to be a cash cow for political consultants like Rick Shaftan.

    I doubt Murray will ever give up.  My guess is now he’s promoting himself wherever he can so he can become New Jersey’s version of Rand Paul, perhaps the Senate in 2012 or, more likely, a taxpayer-financed run for Governor as an independent candidate ala Chris Daggett.  

    Whatever he decides “Maverick” Murray, just like Steve Lonegan, will doubtlessly continue to keep us political junkies constantly entertained with his antics while he becomes a constant thorn in the side of the GOP establishment.

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  4. williamhseward

    That’s a major gaffe by Murray, but please don’t generalize.

    Christie really does communicate well without a teleprompter!

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  5. Nick Lento

    …….and more thanks for introducing me to this wonderful work from the mind of Thomas Paine who was clearly a revolutionary of the first order and would have been quite at home having a chat with Senator Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich!!!  This is a guy that was a fan/supporter of the French Revolution (!) and here we have Murray Sabrin acting as if Paine was his ideological guidepost.   What hypocrisy, at best….and sheer ignorance at worst.

    http://www.ssa.gov/history/pai

    What follows is but a small portion of the whole……

    “Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.

    In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right, and not a charity, that I am pleading for. But it is that kind of right which, being neglected at first, could not be brought forward afterwards till heaven had opened the way by a revolution in the system of government. Let us then do honor to revolutions by justice, and give currency to their principles by blessings.

    Having thus in a few words, opened the merits of the case, I shall now proceed to the plan I have to propose, which is,

    To create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property:

    And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.

    MEANS BY WHICH THE FUND IS TO BE CREATED

    I have already established the principle, namely, that the earth, in its natural uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race; that in that state, every person would have been born to property; and that the system of landed property, by its inseparable connection with cultivation, and with what is called civilized life, has absorbed the property of all those whom it dispossessed, without providing, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss.

    The fault, however, is not in the present possessors. No complaint is tended, or ought to be alleged against them, unless they adopt the crime by opposing justice. The fault is in the system, and it has stolen perceptibly upon the world, aided afterwards by the agrarian law of the sword. But the fault can be made to reform itself by successive generations; and without diminishing or deranging the property of any of present possessors, the operation of the fund can yet commence, and in full activity, the first year of its establishment, or soon after, as I shall show.”

     

    Reply

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