Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Short Musing on the Mangling of History and Literature

Michelle Bachman, the Tea Party lust object du jour, has recently been caught mangling American history. When she confuses New Hampshire and Massachusetts because both have cities named Lexington, I’m pretty sure she has failed to meet one of the Common Core Standards. I don’t get to teach history because I don’t coach a an athletic activity, so I’m not sure which standard Bachman failed to meet, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the more basic ones.  Her failure to meet basic standards becomes more obvious when one notices that she has made similar mistakes in the past.

While I will hang my head in shame and ignore both her factual errors and her misinterpretations of history, I can’t let her misappropriate literature.

Representative Bachman has called a vote on a continuing budget resolution “a mice or men moment,” concluding that her Tea Party allies must ask themselves, “Are we mice or are we men.”

Literature has two famous “of mice and men” moments. Neither involves comparing rodents to humans. The first is Robert Burns’s “To A Mouse,” the poem that has its speaker muse,
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Clearly, Bachman, a woman brimming with Tea Party certitude, doesn’t have enough doubts about the alleged propriety of her cause to wonder who will suffer “grief and pain” if she gets to impose her “best laid plans” on innocent Americans.

The other, is the John Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men. At the novel’s conclusion, George must shoot Lennie to prevent him from being taken by a lynch mob. I’m not sure Bachman wants voters comparing her to either George or Lennie, a mentally challenged man who accidently kills a young woman. Besides, I’m pretty sure that Bachman doesn’t want anyone to read Steinbeck who had some left of center ideas.

I wish Bachman and the rest of her ilk would represent their districts and stop mangling history, the constitution, and great literature. It’s obvious she neither loves nor understands any of it.

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